Giving tennis more than a shot

Slammin’

 

The new tennis season has just started, and Florian Mayer won the first main draw match of 2013, a 6-4 6-4 triumph over Santiago Giraldo at the Brisbane International. Nevertheless, over the last few days, it is the Grand Slam talk that has captured attention.

 

Last season was the first time since 2003 that the four majors have been won by four different players, as each of the top 4 players took one of tennis’s most important trophies, thus proving once more that they are the ones who really dominate the sport at the moment.

 

Can 2013 be any different? Perhaps. For one, Rafael Nadal is not playing in Melbourne, as he doesn’t consider himself fit enough to compete in the first Grand Slam of the season. There is also Roger Federer, who is not getting any younger, but has shown time and again that he is not and never to be discarded. As well, since winning the Olympic Gold and the US Open, Andy Murray hasn’t been the most consistent.

 

Which leaves Novak Djokovic, who started 2013 strong in the Abu Dhabi exhibition. The Serbian is on the hunt for making history at the Australian Open, a tournament that has never been won three consecutive times:

 

“I will be very motivated to hear that nobody has done this so I will try to make history there.”

 

Other players dream of Grand Slam glory

The World no 1 isn’t the only player with avowed Grand Slam ambitions this season. Several top 10 players have also admitted to aim for Grand Slam glory in 2013.

 

Juan Martín del Potro

Argentine Juan Martín del Potro announced at the end of last week that he would not play any Davis Cup ties in 2013 as he has “important goals on the Tour“.

 

In a press conference given last Friday at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, the World no 7, who won the US Open in 2009, expressed that goal fairly clearly:

 

“I dream of winning more Grand Slams and being World no 1.”

 

I will not get into the whole Argentine Davis Cup melodrama, as this is not the place, but I will say this: perhaps Roger Federer, whom Del Potro asked advice from about the Davis Cup, seldom plays it. However, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the proof that one can play, and win, the Davis Cup, win Grand Slams and be number one in the world.

 

Tomas Berdych

Currently ranked sixth in the world rankings, Tomas Berdych will start this season strong from having helped the Czech Republic to win the 100th Davis Cup, at the end of last season, and made his ambitions clearly known as far as Grand Slams are concerned in an interview given in the wake of his participation in the Chennai Open:

 

“I feel my career is moving in the right direction and really want to improve my current ranking and try to fight for a Grand Slam crown.”

 

Berdych reached the Wimbledon final in 2010, his best Grand Slam performance, and the best he did last year was reaching the semi-finals of the US Open, where he lost to eventual winner, Andy Murray, which was the furthest he did in any of the four majors since that final.

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

The French no 1 and actual World no 8 did not have a particularly glorious 2012 as far as facing the top players was concerned (he finished the year with a 1-15 record against top 10 opponents, his sole win being a round-of-16 triumph over Juan Martín del Potro in Rome).

 

Now working with a new coach, Aussie Roger Rasheed, Tsonga dreams of big glory for this new season:

 

“This year I want to win a Grand Slam.”

 

Tsonga reached the final of the 2008 Australian Open (l. to Novak Djokovic). Since then, injuries and lack of consistency have gotten in the way, but he has known some of his best Grand Slam moments at Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals in 2011 and 2012.

 

What about David Ferrer?

Spaniard David Ferrer finished 2012 crowning the ATP for the most wins (76) and titles (7), and is in a very good position to overtake Rafael Nadal in the top 4 as soon as this week, in Doha.

 

Is winning a Grand Slam in the plans for the 30-year-old? No.

 

“My goal is to be [in the] Top 10. It is difficult to win a Grand Slam [championship]. I never [reached a] final. Every year is more difficult, because I am older.”

 

Humble goals for a humble man, but let’s not overlook him. If he can improve his record against the actual top 4, he can very well cause many surprises in Grand Slams and Masters 1000 alike in 2013.

 

Who will Slam in 2013?

Many want one, 128 fight to try and win one four times a year. In the end, there are only four winners.

 

Who will be “Slammin'” in 2013? There are as many predictions as there are tennis fans and experts.

 

I will not make any global predictions for now, as we don’t know yet what the season will bring, especially as far as injuries are concerned.

 

My only prediction: although the current top 4 starts way ahead of the pack, we will have Grand Slam surprises in 2013.

 

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