2012 will be the year that Andy Murray wins his first major, but will that maiden slam come at the Australian Open? Two consecutive finals prove that he has the game to prosper in Melbourne and he has played as well as anyone in recent weeks. A fit and mentally prepared Murray can go all the way.
The pre-eminence of the big four prevents some highly ranked players from making a proper breakthrough at the slams. Gilles Simon is too good a player to have only reached one major quarter final (in Australia in 2008) and he can start 2012 by at least matching that best effort. He lit up last year's event in a five-set thriller with Roger Federer in round two and a reasonable draw means he should be backed to reach the last eight this time around. The Australian Open 2012 odds
show he has a good chance of making an impact.
British fans would count a Murray defeat as the biggest disappointment, but Rafael Nadal suddenly seems the most vulnerable to an earlier than expected exit. The Spaniard will be physically and mentally fresh for Melbourne, but some damaging defeats in 2011 might leave their mark. The tennis odds
Likeliest to prevent big four dominance.
Juan Martin del Potro, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling have had their moments against the big four in slams, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is now the most consistent threat. Runner-up at Melbourne to Djokovic in 2008, the Frenchman can claim another big scalp if he finds the Wimbledon form that was too good for Federer.