Australian Open 2018 Predictions
The first Grand Slam of the year has begun, and as write this post, matches are being played. We already have one slight upset (though not that much of an upset) with Kyle Edmund defeating Kevin Anderson in five sets in the opening round. But while we’re already underway, I thought I’d get a quick predictions post out before any big results come in. So, without further preamble, here are my Australian Open 2018 predictions.
The Big Four/Five
Obviously there’s no Andy Murray, who has pulled out of the tournament with a hip injury that he has opted to have surgery on. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, while competing in Melbourne, are both coming back from injury problems of their own. Both players have been forced to pull out of their opening tournaments this year, and Nadal even said “I’m still not ready”. That doesn’t bode well for the world number one. This leaves Roger Federer—at 36 years of age—as the favourite in many eyes. Though Federer is the defending champion here, it would be remarkable if he were able to repeat the feat this year. Then again, if anyone could do it, it’s Federer. Finally, we have former Australian Open champion, Stan Wawrinka. The other Swiss great has been sidelined by injury as well, and has said he considers it a victory just to be at the Australian Open. He does not believe he is at his top level, and still feels pain in his troubling knee.
So the actual predictions? I do not believe we’ll be seeing Djokovic or Wawrinka in the final, or even semi-final of this year’s tournament. Nadal I could see going deep, but with his injury problems I find it hard to believe his body will hold it together for the full tournament. When he reached the final last year, he had come in off of the back of months of rest. This time he comes in after one of the most gruelling tours of his career. Federer, it would seem is still the man to beat. And while we might not be getting another Federer/Nadal classic, I do think the Swiss Maestro will be in the final.
The Next Gen
Grigor Dimitrov comes into 2018 on the back of his most successful year to date. He may be disappointed to have lost out in Brisbane, but he should still be feeling good about his chances here. Dominic Thiem has had a bit of a scare, having had to pull out of his semi-final in Doha due to fever. Finally, Marin Cilic, one of only two active players outside of the Big Five to boast a Grand Slam title, is fit and happy with his game at the moment.
Of this group, I think Dimitrov is best placed to go all the way. Thiem may one day get a Slam, but I don’t think he’s on the level he needs to be. It’s not a fitness thing, it’s a mental thing. Cilic, on the other hand, is perfectly capable of going all the way. I just feel the window may be closing for the Croat. At 29, time is not on his side. And as the likes of Murray and Djokovic has shown, not everyone can be Roger Federer. Personally I don’t think Dimitrov will win this year. But of this group of players (including “next gen” players I haven’t named) I feel he is the most likely to pull it off.
The Next Next Gen
Perhaps Thiem should have been in this bit, now that I think about it. Really the only the player left for this section is Alexander Zverev. The 20 year old German has already come closer to usurping the Big Four’s dominance than most. I don’t think he’ll win this tournament, but I expect him to go deep. And if Zverev can put in a good showing in Melbourne, I would have no problem tipping him for his first Grand Slam title later in 2018.
So, really, these Australian Open 2018 predictions conclude that it’s probably going to be Federer once more. If the Swiss can stay fit, I’m convinced there’s anyone quite ready to take down the king. What about you? We don’t have much time as the tournament is already underway, but I’d love to hear your Australian Open 2018 predictions. Drop them in the comments below!