The ATP World Tour season begins this week as players get ready and tuned-up for the Australian Open, only a short two weeks away. 2011 was, unquestionably, the year of Novak Djokovic. He dominated the sport in a very Federer-esque fashion, utterly destroying his main rival from the year in the process. His 6-0 record against Nadal last year may be just as impressive as his 41 (43 counting Davis Cup) straight wins to start the season.
Lost in Djokovic’s great season, however, is the fact that Federer is still one of the top players in the game. He is no longer as consistent as he once was, but he is still absolutely untouchable on indoor hard courts. Federer may not be favored at another Slam, but you can guarantee that he would be the prohibitive favorite is one was ever played on the same court as Basel. Federer also, once again, made it through a long season injury-free, which will be much more important as he gets into the older ages of his career. As the game becomes more physical and takes more of a toll on the top players, Federer’s seemingly-effortless style will be the type of play necessary to ensure longer careers.
Who to Watch in 2012:
The “Big 4″ have separated themselves from the pack these past few years, and no one has shown any indication that they are likely to join this group. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish have competed with them on certain surfaces, but overall and on the biggest stages, it’s all about Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Murray. Even Murray, who had been a tad behind the others at the Slams, still consistently won’t lose to anyone outside of those three. And he hired a new coach for this year, Ivan Lendl, who he hopes can bring him up to the level where he can consistently compete with and beat the others.
The others to watch this year are the “young guns” who made waves in 2011. Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Ryan Harrison all showed great fight and ability at times last season. Tomic looks to be the most developed of the three, both in physical talent and in his mental game, and will probably be the first of these three to challenge at a Slam or Masters. Harrison generally has the most exciting matches of the three and always fights, but he has a tendency to throw away games and sets that he needs to get rid of before he can really compete. Dimitrov might be the most talented of the three, but like Harrison needs to work on his consistency and his mental toughness.
To read the entire article, please click here
. As always, thoughts and opinions are welcome and requested.