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What Should You Expect From the Big Four in 2017?

Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal all have different things to prove this season - can they do it?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 09:  Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a backhand during a practice session ahead of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 9, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Roger Federer did well at the Hopman Cup, and is already underway with practice in Melbourne

After a rather lackluster 2016 bar the initial start by Novak Djokovic and the late march by Andy Murray, 2017 promises to be brilliant. With the heavyweights Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal coming back on tour, the void left by their absence will vanish – and some young talent has absolutely excelled on Tour. 

The intense pressure of expectations awaits Sir Andy Murray as he looks to hold on to his number 1 ranking. For Novak Djokovic, the desire to compete shall play a crucial role. Each member of the ‘Big Four’ has a point to prove this year and that is what excites fans most.

A thrilling year of tennis is in store for us. Let us look at how these four legends have fared in the first few weeks of 2017 and what we can expect from them going into the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.

The return of the maestro

There is no other man in tennis world that produces a fanfare such as Roger Federer does. If you have any doubts regarding that fact, Brisbane practice session has the answer for you. More than 8000 fans gathered to watch the Swiss magician wave his Wilson wand – with Federer’s matches sold out so early that the Swiss opened up viewing for his practice sessions! 

When 35-year-old Roger Federer stepped onto the court in Perth to compete in his first match in six months, the tournament registered an attendance record. The Swiss’ return after a six-month gap was probably one of the most anticipated one in recent years. 

Roger started his campaign at the team tennis Hopman Cup tournament against Great Britain’s Dan Evans and played some wonderful forehands, returned well and showed good movement on the court to get home a win. He got the job done in 63 minutes, winning 6-3, 6-4. He also won his mixed doubles match teaming up with Belinda Bencic. It was a perfect comeback.

The real match to see where Federer’s game was, came next. Up against the upcoming talent Alexander Zverev. Federer showed brilliant early signs in the match. He was getting on top of his backhand, his forehands were landing on the right side of the lines; his serve, a key part of his game, was landing at perfect spots with good pace.

His returns were good as well. Early part of the match saw vintage Roger at display. However, as the match progressed, multitude of unforced and forced errors started to creep in. Add to that some extraordinary tennis from the teenager and the set went into a tie-breaker. Surprisingly, Federer lost the tie-breaker with a huge margin, 7-1.  Roger would go on to lose the match in three sets.

There were a lot of positives from this match but also a few weak areas were at display. Against the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, Roger cannot afford to show these weaknesses. That will be the main cause of worry for him.

In his third singles match for the season, Federer took out Richard Gasquet in commanding fashion to send a message to rest of locker room that he is a serious contender for titles this season.

Looking back at these three performances from Federer and predicting his chances at Australian Open, we can say that the story is not over yet. Playing competitive tennis after six months, Federer put forward good performances.

More importantly, the ankle seems fine. What remains to be seen is that can Federer keep up this level of tennis in best of five set matches when competing against top 10 players.

A record 17 time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer is bidding for his 18th Slam title this season. From what I see, it is possible. Will he do it or not, only time can tell.

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