Australian Open 2017: 8 Patchy Players Who Could Surprise You
Here's a little preview of those players who looked threatening, but bottled when it mattered most. Could they shock us in 2017?
It’s only a matter of hours before the Australian Open gets underway and soon the Rod Laver Arena will be jam-packed with fans and spectators who will witness the best tennis players in the world battle it out to claim the first Grand Slam of 2017.
A number of questions will cross through the minds of fans and critics prior to the Men’s singles tournament like “will Novak Djokovic win a record seventh Australian Open title?” or “will Andy Murray finally end his hoodoo at the Australian Open finals?” or “will the tournament be conquered by a Federer or a Nadal?” or “will this be the slam of Alexander Zverev?”
The likes of Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori were more than a match for the likes of Murray and Djokovic last year and the kind of form they have been in, they can be considered to be at least dark horses for the title. However, over the years there have been a number of “also-ran” players who have shown a lot of potential and have reached the latter stages of the Australian Open but couldn’t perform well at those stages.
On some occasions, these players were overshadowed by the Big Four but on numerous other occasions, they have not done much more than making up the list of seeded players. A few of these players had struggled during last year’s ATP World Tour due to form and fitness issues but they will be expected to have a better season this Tour. Here’s a short preview of these players and what are their chances at this year’s Australian Open.
#8. John Isner
The tall American came into the limelight by stunning the then Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick in the third round of the 2009 US Open. A few months later at the 2010 Wimbledon, Isner won the longest match in tennis history by defeating Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a match that lasted eleven hours and five minutes with the final set alone lasting above eight hours with the scoreline 70-68. Isner reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the 2011 US Open and entered the Top 10 of the ATP rankings in 2012.
Isner won at least one ATP title each from 2013-2015 and last year reached the final of the Paris Masters before losing to newly crowned World No.1 Andy Murray. Nonetheless, he ended 2016 ranked 19th which was his seventh consecutive year-end finish in the Top 20.
Despite his powerful serve and having gained a lot of praise for his composure, Isner has done very little to justify his talent, especially in the Grand Slam level as he has reached only one Grand Slam quarter-final. Isner’s performance at the Australian Open hasn’t been too impressive as well with his best being reaching the fourth round in 2010 and 2016 where he lost to Andy Murray and David Ferrer respectively, both in straight sets.
Seeded 19th, Isner has been drawn in Section-1 of the main draw of this year’s Australian Open and is expected to have a cakewalk till the third round where he could face 16th seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille who improved immensely last year and even if he overcomes Pouille, Isner will have his work cut out as he will be up against five-time runner-up and top seed Andy Murray in the fourth round who will be expected to reach there with ease. Although it is highly unlikely that Isner will reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, his powerful and consistent serve combined with his composure and powerful ground strokes will surely be something that the top ranked players will be wary of.