2015 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff


Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 61-8

Grand Slam Record: 180-33

Australian Open Record: 43-6

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008, ’11-’13)

Fast Fact: If Djokovic wins the title, he will be tied for 5th for Grand Slam titles won (8) with Agassi, Connors, and Lendl, and will have the most Australian Open titles (5) in the Open era.


Roger Federer

2014 Record: 73-12

Grand Slam Record: 279-45

Australian Open Record: 73-11

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10)

Fast Fact: Over the last five years, the Australian Open has been Federer’s most successful Grand Slam event, with 26 match wins (French – 22 wins, Wimbledon – 22 wins, US – 21 wins).


Rafael Nadal

2014 Record: 48-11

Grand Slam Record: 187-25

Australian Open Record: 41-8

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

Fast Fact: Over the last seven months, Nadal has lost as many matches (3) against players ranked outside the top 100 as he had over the prior seven years.


Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 39-17

Grand Slam Record: 82-38

Australian Open Record: 23-8

Australian Open Best Result: W (2014)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Wawrinka won 73% of his matches vs. Top Ten players (8-3); in prior years he won only 29% vs. Top Ten (27-67).


Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 54-14

Grand Slam Record: 37-21

Australian Open Record: 12-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Nishikori won $4.4M in prize money, more than he had earned in his entire career prior to 2014 ($3.6M in 2007-2013).


Andy Murray

2014 Record: 59-20

Grand Slam Record: 134-33

Australian Open Record: 33-9

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2010, ’11, ’13)

Fast Fact: Murray has reached at least the QF in his last 15 Grand Slam events played, a streak dating back to 2010 US Open (lost 3R to Wawrinka).


Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 55-22

Grand Slam Record: 103-45

Australian Open Record: 29-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Berdych has played 15 five set matches at Grand Slam events, but only one at the Australian Open (2009, lost 4R to Federer).


Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 49-20

Grand Slam Record: 35-16

Australian Open Record: 10-4

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Raonic has only one Top Ten win at a Grand Slam, defeating No. 10 Youzhny in the 3R of the 2011 Australian Open.


David Ferrer

2014 Record: 54-24

Grand Slam Record: 121-48

Australian Open Record: 32-12

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Ferrer’s win over Berdych in Doha last week was his first win vs. a Top Ten player since May, 2014 (def. Isner, Madrid 3R).


Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 50-18

Grand Slam Record: 20-17

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Dimitrov is the only player born after 1990 to have reached the Top Ten in the ATP rankings.


Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 27-29

Australian Open Record: 2-6

Australian Open Best Result: 2R (2009, ’14)

Fast Fact: Gulbis has lost in the first or second round in 22 of the last 24 Grand Slam events he has played.


Feliciano Lopez

2014 Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 73-52

Australian Open Record: 17-12

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2012)

Fast Fact: In his 17th year as a professional, Lopez had his most successful year in 2014, winning 39 matches.


Gael Monfils

2014 Record: 36-15

Grand Slam Record: 67-32

Australian Open Record: 16-9

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2009)

Fast Fact: Monfils is the only seeded man at the 2014 Australian Open to win the Boys Singles title (2004).


John Isner

2014 Record: 39-20

Grand Slam Record: 37-26

Australian Open Record: 7-6

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

Fast Fact: Of Isner’s 18 career final appearances, 15 have been in U.S. events.





Murray Wins First Title Since 2013 Wimbledon


Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(September 28, 2014) Scot Andy Murray came back from a set down and saved five match points to beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo of Spain 5-7, 7-6 (9), 6-1 Sunday to win the Shenzhen Open.

For the Scotsman, who came into the tournament as a wildcard, he broke a tournament win drought dating back to 2013 Wimbledon, the tennis title he won.

“It’s been a long time since I won a tournament, Murray said. “The way that the match was won doesn’t happen very often. It’s rare to win a match like that. I was very close to losing. It was an emotional week for me. I managed to fight my way through it, win the title, and hopefully I can win another one before the end of the year.”

Murray was down 2-6 in the second set tiebreak before rallying.

“I got lucky, basically, at the end of the second set,” Murray said. “I fought hard, tried my best and thankfully managed to turn it round.”

The Scot is trying to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and has moved up to 10th in the ATP Race To London with the addition of 250 points.

“When you finish second in a tournament it’s always great,” Robredo said. “In a match like today that was so close, it’s tough to accept it. But Andy did a great job. He was pushing right till the end and in the end, he deserved it. It was a good experience to learn from. I will keep working and hopefully next time I can win. It was a good week and hopefully next week I can be ready to play as well.”


Kei Nishikori Wins Malaysian Open

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

(September 28, 2014) Top seed Kei Nishikori earned his third title of the season, beating fourth-seeded Julien Benneteau 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Sunday to win the Malaysian Open.

The Japanese player was playing in his first tournament since losing in the final of the US Open.

“It was a really tough start, because he was playing so aggressive, “Nishokori said about trailing by a break in the first set. “I was waiting for my opportunity. I had so many break points and I couldn’t take them. In the last game, he got a little bit tight and I took my chance. After that I played much better and I think he was getting a little bit tired in the second set. I tried to raise my level. It wasn’t my best tennis, but it’s good to win like this.”
The Frenchman Benneteau is now 0-10 in finals. This was his third straight Malaysian Open final.

“Kei was simply too good in the key moments,” Benneteau said. “Especially at the end of the first set. I had some chances, but against these kinds of players they are small chances and you have to take them.”

“It was a very good week and today was my best match of the week. Kei was simply too good in the key moments, especially at the end of the first set. I had some chances, but against these kinds of players, they are small chances and you have to take them. I tried to play my best and I almost did it. I’m disappointed with the loss, but very happy with the level of my game.”

Nishikori is now 44-10 for the year.

Nishikori’s win extends his lead ATP Race To London over seventh-placed David Ferrer.


2014 French Open Men’s Contender Profiles – Fast Facts with Jack Cunniff


(May 24, 2014) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2014 French Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

1. Rafael Nadal
2014 Record: 34-6
Grand Slam Record: 177-24
French Open Record: 59-1
French Open Best Result: Won (2005-08, 2010-13)
Fast Fact: In his 59 wins at the French Open, Nadal has been extended to a 5th set only twice (Isner, 2011 1R; Djokovic 2013 SF).

2. Novak Djokovic
2014 Record: 24-3
Grand Slam Record: 162-31
French Open Record: 36-9
French Open Best Result: RU (2012)
Fast Fact: At the past four Grand Slam events, Djokovic has won more singles matches than any other player, male or female, but currently holds no Grand Slam titles.

3. Stan Wawrinka
2014 Record: 21-5
Grand Slam Record: 75-35
French Open Record: 20-9
French Open Best Result: QF (2013)
Fast Fact: Wawrinka has earned more prize money in the past 18 months ($6.3M) than he had in the previous 10 years ($5.9M).

4. Roger Federer
2014 Record: 28-6
Grand Slam Record: 265-42
French Open Record: 58-14
French Open Best Result: Won (2009)
Fast Fact: Both Federer and Lleyton Hewitt are appearing in their 61st Grand Slam at 2014 Roland Garros, tying them with Andre Agassi, and trailing only Fabrice Santoro (70) for the most Open Era Slam appearances.

5. David Ferrer
2014 Record: 27-10
Grand Slam Record: 115-45
French Open Record: 32-11
French Open Best Result: RU (2013)
Fast Fact: Ferrer is attempting to reach the Fourth Round at his 16th consecutive Grand Slam; he hasn’t lost before the 4R since the 2010 French Open (l. to Melzer, 3R)

6. Tomas Berdych
2014 Record: 27-8
Grand Slam Record: 93-42
French Open Record: 13-10
French Open Best Result: SF (2010)
Fast Fact:. In his 10 previous French Open appearances, Berdych has lost in the first round in half of them, and has only passed the 2R on three occasions (2006, ’10, ’12).

7. Andy Murray
2014 Record: 21-9
Grand Slam Record: 121-30
French Open Record: 18-6
French Open Best Result: SF (2011)
Fast Fact: Of his 13 appearances in Grand Slam semifinals, only one has been at Roland Garros (2011).

8. Milos Raonic
2014 Record: 15-7
Grand Slam Record: 23-13
French Open Record: 4-3
French Open Best Result: 3R (2012-‘13)
Fast Fact: Raonic earns a Top Eight seed without ever reaching the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam; the last player to accomplish that was Gilles Simon (2009 Australian Open).

9. Kei Nishikori
2014 Record: 27-5
Grand Slam Record: 28-18
French Open Record: 5-3
French Open Best Result: 4R (2013)
Fast Fact: Nishikori has the 3rd best winning percentage on tour for 2014 (84.4%), trailing only Djokovic (88.9%) and Nadal (85.0%).

10. John Isner
2014 Record: 16-9
Grand Slam Record: 30-23
French Open Record: 5-5
French Open Best Result: 3R (2010, ‘13)
Fast Fact: Isner is the only player in the Top Twenty with a career losing record on clay (36-37).

11. Grigor Dimitrov
2014 Record: 26-8
Grand Slam Record: 12-14
French Open Record: 3-3
French Open Best Result: 3R (2013)
Fast Fact: After losing his opening round match in 8 events last year, Dimitrov has a 10-0 record in his opening round matches in 2014.

12. Richard Gasquet
2014 Record: 13-7
Grand Slam Record: 69-37
French Open Record: 13-10
French Open Best Result: 4R (2011-‘13)
Fast Fact: Gasquet is attempting to win his 100th clay court match in the first round of Roland Garros.

13. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
2014 Record: 17-10
Grand Slam Record: 75-25
French Open Record: 17-6
French Open Best Result: SF (2013)
Fast Fact: Tsonga’s last win against a Top Ten player was in the 2013 French Open (d. Federer, QF); he has lost his last eight matches vs. Top Ten players.

14. Fabio Fognini
2014 Record: 26-11
Grand Slam Record: 21-23
French Open Record: 10-5
French Open Best Result: QF (2011)
Fast Fact: Fognini passed the .500 mark in career wins and losses for the first time when he won his 3R match in 2014 Miami.

15. Mikhail Youzhny
2014 Record: 6-9
Grand Slam Record: 93-50
French Open Record: 22-13
French Open Best Result: QF (2010)
Fast Fact: Youzhny has lost his last six matches that have gone to a final set; he hasn’t won a deciding set since Valencia, October 2013.

16. Tommy Haas
2014 Record: 14-10
Grand Slam Record: 104-54
French Open Record: 21-12
French Open Best Result: QF (2013)
Fast Fact: Haas becomes the oldest Top 16 seed at a Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors (age 36, 11 months at 1989 US Open).


Tomas Berdych Ends Title Drought with Win in Rotterdam

Berdych wins Rotterdam


(February 16, 2014) Tomas Berdych ended his title drought on Sunday in Rotterdam decisively beating Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-2 to win his first ATP singles title since October 2013, the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

The Czech only lost one set the entire event, to Ernests Gulbis in the semifinals.

Berdych’s ranking will move up to No. 6 when the rankings come out on Monday.

Cilic who knocked out Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, was trying to win two straight tournaments. He won in Zagreb last Sunday.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” Berdych said. “It’s been a while, actually 16 months since I won a title. To win a title in Rotterdam it’s a nice bonus. I’m extremely happy with the way I handled it throughout the week. I’ve been serving pretty well, which has been the strong part of my game.”

“It was a tough one today,” said the losing finalist. “What made the difference in the end was that Tomas served really well. Overall I think the tournament was great. I played great tennis and enjoyed it here. I had a great run of nine [straight] wins and I hope to make that run soon again.”

For Berdych it is his ninth tour-level title in his 20th final. He becomes the first Czech to win in Rotterdam since Radek Stepanek back in 2006.


2014 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles


(January 11, 2014) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2014 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

Nadal waves and smiles

Rafael Nadal

2013 Record: 75-7

Grand Slam Record: 171-23

Australian Open Record: 35-7

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

Fast Fact: If Nadal wins the Australian Open title, he will be the first men’s player in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam twice, with at least two Men’s Singles titles at each Slam event.

Djokovic wins 89

Novak Djokovic

2013 Record: 74-9

Grand Slam Record: 158-30

Australian Open Record: 39-5

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2007, ’11-’13)

Fast Fact: Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to win five Australian Open Men’s Singles titles in the Open Era.

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

2013 Record: 60-24

Grand Slam Record: 111-44

Australian Open Record: 28-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Ferrer’s 2013 match winning percentage dropped 14% in the second half of the year, from 37-10 (78.7%) to 24-13 (64.9%).

Andy Murray smiling

Andy Murray

2013 Record: 43-8

Grand Slam Record: 117-29

Australian Open Record: 29-8

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2010, ’11, ’13)

Fast Fact: Murray is the only player in the Open Era to have appeared in at least three Australian Open finals without winning the title.


Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro

2013 Record: 51-16

Grand Slam Record: 62-25

Australian Open Record: 16-7

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2009, ’12)

Fast Fact: Del Potro has lost his last six 5-set matches, dating back to the 2R of the 2010 Australian Open (d. Blake, 2R)

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

2013 Record: 45-17

Grand Slam Record: 260-41

Australian Open Record: 68-10

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10)

Fast Fact: With his appearance in the Australian Open, Federer passes Wayne Ferreira for the most consecutive Grand Slam appearances in the Open Era (57).

Berdych 9 228

Tomas Berdych

2013 Record: 54-25

Grand Slam Record: 88-41

Australian Open Record: 24-10

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2011-’13)

Fast Fact: Berdych is the only men’s player of the Top 16 Australian Open seeds that failed to win a title in 2013.

Stan Wawrinka

Stanislas Wawrinka

2013 Record: 51-23

Grand Slam Record: 69-35

Australian Open Record: 17-8

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2011)

Fast Fact: Wawrinka has lost to current or former No. 1 players in the last five Grand Slam events.

Richard Gasquet

Richard Gasquet

2013 Record: 50-23

Grand Slam Record: 67-36

Australian Open Record: 16-10

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2007, ’08, ’12, ’13)

Fast Fact: In the opening round of the Australian Open, Gasquet is attempting to win the 200th hardcourt match of his career.

JWT Tsonga China-Open-Tsonga-smiles-in-press

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

2013 Record: 39-16

Grand Slam Record: 72-24

Australian Open Record: 24-7

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2008)

Fast Fact: Tsonga has reached at least one Grand Slam Semifinal in each of the last four years.

88 Raonic

Milos Raonic

2013 Record: 45-21

Grand Slam Record: 21-12

Australian Open Record: 8-3

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Raonic’s record against Top 25 opponents at Grand Slam events is 3-6, with all three wins coming at the Australian Open.


Tommy Haas photo by Maria Noble

Tommy Haas photo by Maria Noble

Tommy Haas

2013 Record: 47-21

Grand Slam Record: 104-53

Australian Open Record: 26-12

Australian Open Best Result: SF (1999, ’02, ’07)

Fast Fact: At 35, Haas becomes the oldest men’s player to earn a Top 16 seed at the Australian Open.

John Isner-2

John Isner

2013 Record: 39-24

Grand Slam Record: 30-22

Australian Open Record: 7-5

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

Fast Fact: Isner has played 61 tiebreaks in 52 Grand Slam matches, with a 70% winning percentage (43- 18).


Mikhail Youzhny

2013 Record: 39-24

Grand Slam Record: 92-49

Australian Open Record: 19-12

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2008)

Fast Fact: Four of Youzhny’s last five Australian Open matches have gone to 5 sets.





An Evening with Roger Federer and Friends


By James A. Crabtree

(January 8, 2014) MELBOURNE PARK – A normal evening at a friend’s house might include the usual pleasantries. You would likely arrive promptly with a bottle of red, before being shown to the living room whilst your friend finishes up the cooking, agreeable smells wafting in from the kitchen.


During this time you would probably mooch round the living room, investigate photos on the wall; check out the DVD collection, feel envious of their flat screen TV or perhaps just cringe at their horrid couch.


Alas, the evening with Roger Federer didn’t include a meal lovingly cooked by Mrs. Mirka Federer, a bad couch or giggles over a glass of red.


At this particular evening with Roger you were rewarded with a LED key ring upon entry and a ticket that hid Federer as a silhouette thanks to its hologram capabilities. Quickly the new toy became a poor man’s light saber by every child and geek wishing to kill time before Federer’s arrival.


And we had to wait…


Old rival Lleyton Hewitt showed up in a suit (yes that wasn’t a typo) for a chat as did former Federer coach Tony Roche (not in a suit). A very tanned Pat Rafter (in more than just his Bonds jocks) followed for a quick hit up with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Federer then hit up with a very spritely seventy-five years young Rod Laver (wearing Wimbledon whites) – yes that wasn’t a typo either….

Hold on a minute…yes you heard correctly…Two time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver hitting in his own Rod Laver Arena. Where do you put that on the list of accomplishments?


Federer and Tsonga then had a hit of their own before getting down to business for a very serious exhibition that felt more like an extension of their five set thriller from a year before.


Federer had a nervous start before finding his rhythm then dictating for a 3-1 lead. Tsonga rebounded to go 4-3 up as some wisecrack in the stand screamed out ‘C’mon Rafa’ earning a smile from Roger. The games went back on serve to a concluding tie-break that Tsonga took, disappointment the majority.


The seriousness eased for the beginning of the second set as both players paraded their array of skills for the sort of rallies club players’ dream of. Federer started swinging easy, his smile masking his competitive intentions, and raced ahead to snatch the important points and the set 6-3 like a thief in the night.


Tsonga changed his shirt to wolf whistles from the crowd at the beginning of the third set, and also his fortune, racing to a 4-2 lead. Federer responded winning the next three games, including a hard fought break on Tsonga’s serve that included the most implausible hawk-eye challenge that had everybody grinning. Federer ruined his chance to serve it out before Tsonga showed signs of fatigue after levelling at 5-5. Federer broke again quickly before controlling the outcome with a final point that included a bevy of smashes.


The LED lights were back in force for the final interview as lighters once did for rock ballads. Federer indulged the crowd with a light-hearted chat, telling the crowd he would choose Leonardo DiCaprio to play himself in a movie, and giggling that Serena or Novak would be a good name for his next child (if chosen to name after a current tennis player).


The Roger Federer charity event watched globally and attended by a capacity of fifteen thousand enthralled ‘Federer Tragics’, as one women referred to herself as, not only entertained those who watched it but ultimately benefited, inspired and educated the recipients of his foundation.


So far the Roger Federer Foundation has helped over 86,000 children, the majority being in Southern Africa, with the primary focus on improving education. The foundation plans to reach a million children by 2018 and nights like tonight will only make that process quicker. The event raised over one millions dollars.


There are not too many bad things you can say about Roger Federer. In truth, if you were to scratch your head deep in thought you might not think of any. Simply, there is no better ambassador for tennis, or for sport in general. Every day Federer goes out of his way to add to his already compelling resume of achievements, highlighted by triumphs on the court, but decorated by his exploits for humanity.


James Crabtree is a journalist living in Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @JamesACrabtree


Lleyton Hewitt Upsets Roger Federer for Brisbane Title



(January 5, 2014) For the first time since the Halle in 2010 Lleyton Hewitt has won a tournament. In a battle of 32-year-olds, Hewitt stunned No. 1 seed Roger Federer 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to win Brisbane International.

The former No. 1 who have been playing each other on tour since 1999 were playing their 27 match against each.

In the first set, Hewitt came out as the Hewitt of old, breaking Federer three times with Federer hitting 22 unforced errors.

The momentum swung in Federer’s favor in the second set after fighting back to even the match.

The third set was a tale of missed opportunities for the 17-time major champion. Federer failed to take advantage of seven break points within the Australian’s first three service games. Overall Federer was 1 for 10 in break point chances on the day.

The first game of the final set lasted 16 minutes with Hewitt saving 4 break points. In turn, Federer was broken in the fourth game and Hewitt held on to win.

“Playing the best players in the world and finals of tournaments, always it’s exciting,” Hewitt said. “That’s why you still play the game. For me, it was motivation enough just to try to get the win out there and obviously win another title. It’s been a couple of years. So I was just ready for the challenge today.

“I played great obviously at the start, really well. It took Roger a little bit of time to get into the match. Then I just had to fight hard at the start of the third set.

“It means a lot with the calibre of players here as well in this tournament. It’s not an easy tournament to win. I wasn’t one of the top four seeds, so I had to win all five matches to get through. There are pleasing parts and massive positives to take out of it.”

“I didn’t play great today which is a bit unfortunate, but also Lleyton was the best player I played this week,” Federer said. “He made it toughest on me. So I have a clear idea what I need to work on, and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is that… I’m very hungry and eager to attack the Australian Open next week.”

For Hewitt,  who is now 7-2 in finals in Australia, it’s his first tournament win on home soil since he captured Sydney in 2005. He raises his record against Federer to 9-18. The victory will move him up in the rankings from No. 60 to around No. 43. The last time Hewitt was in the top 50 was in October 2010.



2014 Tennis Season, More of the Same for the Men?

Centre Court-001

By James A. Crabtree


(November 24, 2013) Of those who can truly challenge for a major, the list is very small. Consider in 2002 when swede Thomas Johansson won the Australian Open as the 16th seed or Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open ranked 66th in the world. Compare that with today’s rankings and we have Fabio Fognini winning in Melbourne and Yen-Hsun Lu in Paris. If you think that either of these results is far fetched for 2014 you are on the money.


When fourth seed David Ferrer made the French open final this past year nobody but his mother felt he could win it. Not surprising considering his opposition, Rafael Nadal, has only lost once out of the sixty matches played at Roland Garros. Only a mad man would bet against him over five sets on clay.


Add that to the fact the big four have not only dominated the slams but since 2009 only Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrer, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have been able to add their names to the ATP 1000 champions list. That is only five differing names to the usual four out of 45 tournaments.


Although the dominance of the big 4 has been lessened since the 2013 horror campaign of Roger Federer, the collection of contenders hasn’t been increased far beyond those players who have won a slam in the past. When looking at the others within the top ten all have their flaws. Tomas Berdych struggles when playing any final. Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer don’t have the fire power to notch big back-to-back wins. Stan Wawrinka has the firepower and the arrogance but not the physical stamina. Comparatively Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has the arrogance and firepower but not the mental fortitude. That leaves Juan Martin Del Potro, the scariest opponent not named Novak, Rafa, Roger or Andy.


Australian Open, Return of the Muzzer


Yes, seriously. Andy Murray will be refreshed and hungry and will look for glory at a venue he has been a three time finalist. A fourth consecutive triumph for Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, even on current form, seems a bridge too far.


Look for Federer to regain some form and make the semi-finals once more.


Rafael Nadal

French Open, As predictable as a Vin Diesel movie


Novak Djokovic will have to wait one more year before he can unify the all four career majors belt.


Nadal on the ultra-slow clay of Roland Garros is too much for any mortal. It is impossible to argue with a 98.33 winning percentage over nine years. All we can say is shame on you Robin Soderling for ruining slam perfection.


Djokovic wins 89

Wimbledon, Novak Vengeance


By June Djokovic is going to be mighty mighty angry. Not only that, he is going to make both Andy Murray and the British crowd pay for the previous year. Look for Djokovic to sneak this one in 5 sets.



U.S. Open, The Federer Redemption?


This is a really 50-50 call between old man Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro has a good case as he was the best player to not win a slam this past year. Federer has a case because, regardless of form, he is still Federer. On top of that history often likes to repeat itself in certain ways and it would be quite fitting for Federer to snatch a triumph in New York as Pete Sampras did in 2002.


James Crabtree is a journalist living in Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @JamesACrabtree


Joao Sousa Saves Match Point to Win his First ATP Title


(September 29, 2013) Joao Sousa became the first player from Portugal to win an ATP Tour title when he rallied from a match point against him to put down France’s Julien Benneteau 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 to capture the Malaysian Open tennis tournament. This was Sousa’s first ATP final.

The 77th-ranked Sousa had a dream week in Kuala Lumpur, beating seeds along the way to the crown in top seed David Ferrer, fourth seed Jurgen Melzer and fifth seed Benneteau in succession.

Behind 2-6, 4-5, 30-40, Sousa staved off a match point, winning three straight games on the trot to even the match. Sousa broke to open the third set and held on for the win.

“I just gave my best, Sousa said. “Tennis is like this, if you don’t go for it, you’ll never make it, so I just went for it. We both played a great match. He had a lot of chances to win.”

“I’m so tired mentally and physically but I just feel amazing, it’s just a dream come true, winning my first title here in Malaysia,” the 24-year-old said. “I’m really happy to win this title.”

“I tried everything today… I played very well, particularly I was very aggressive and I didn’t let him play for two sets almost,” said the Frenchman who is now 0-9 in ATP finals.

“I took my chance, it didn’t pay off and it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s very hard. But it’s sport.”

Sousa is the seventh first-time winner and the 12th unseeded winner on the ATP World Tour this year.