2011 Here we come…

Jan 11, 2011

It’s been a while, but here we stand, only six days away from the start of the Australian Open 2011. This will be the first Grand Slam event of the new calendar year, and, no, I can’t wait either. There’s something so exciting about the fresh start to a year, the clammy feeling, the nerves, the expectations. We truly have no idea who will rise and who will fall, what the year will shape up to be. We may look back with nostalgia to 2010, but here’s hoping 2011 will give us plenty to talk about.

It’s been a long break for many of the players too. Although the Christmas vacation for most professional players is more work-out than pig-out, this last week has been the first time many have started competing in tournaments this year. The early signs are never a very good indicator for the year to come, but it’s a start.

Andy Murray, for example, will be hoping for a good start to the year. After last year’s near-miss at the Australian Open, he proved that he can leave his mark on a tournament. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet proved that he can win one. He has slipped to number 5 in the rankings after missing a couple of ATP Tour matches, but he seems unperturbed by that. Murray will be playing the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne  this week, and he’ll face Marin Cilic at the event. The rain that has been wreaking havoc across Australia for weeks looks like it’s set its eyes on the event, but with fingers crossed Murray should get a chance to get a good start to the year.

One interesting player at the Australian Open will be Juan Martin del Potro. I personally can’t wait to welcome him back into the fold; finally, the chance for more ‘tall’ jokes. He hasn’t lost an inch of height since his career high at the US Open, but he has lost some fitness and has slipped far, far down the rankings. It was this time last year that the wrist injury that has plagued him surfaced, and has only played twice since then.

Still, he put on an impressive display to beat Feliciano Lopez 6-7 7-6 7-6 in the Sydney International.  Although a little creaky in places, he managed to beat a difficult opponent under the hot Australian sun, and they are good signs for the start of del Potro’s year. If he starts off well at Australia, then Federer and Rafa will have to look out at the French Open, Wimbledon, and at Flushing Meadows.

Samantha Stosur will be looking to advance on a fantastic last year, particularly in front of a home crowd. She beat Wickmayer at the Sydney International and wowed the home crowd, so she will be a name to look out for as the tournament begins.

As for other names to look out for throughout the year, I’ll be compiling a list in the next few days. If you have any ideas of your own I’d love to hear them; as it has been shown in the past I am not a great predictor of things, but I try my best. And, if Imake them now, I’m hoping none of you will remember them by the end of the year.

So, yes, it’s that time of year again. Cross your fingers for no rain, find the nearest live coverage, and settle in for the first Grand Slam of 2011.

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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