The Australian Open draw is still about 30 hours away from being released (Thursday night 8pm ET), but it’s never too early to start thinking about who might be left standing on the men’s side in Melbourne at the end of the month.
My pre-draw favorites haven’t changed much after the first week. Here they are:
1. Novak Djokovic: Winner of his last 24 matches and the 3-time defending champion is my pick regardless of draw. Only thing that could stumble a fourth title is a heatwave or a Becker scandal.
2. Rafael Nadal: Positive start to year with Doha title but will need to play better in Melbourne to win a second Australian Open crown.
3. Juan Martin Del Potro: If he gets a good draw and the weather’s comfortable, could be a real factor the last weekend and has the firepower to beat anyone.
4. JW Tsonga: Now healthy and hungry, I expect the former 2008 finalist to have a nice two weeks at his favorite, most successful major, maybe even getting back to the title match.
5. Roger Federer: No longer an automatic for the final weekend, for the lesser guys he’s still a huge scalp and will be tough to beat in the early rounds in a best-of-5.
6. Andy Murray: The back and fitness are still a question mark to me but if he shows he can win a long, tough match early it could go a long way to him going a long way.
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