The 2013 tennis season got off to a predictable start. There were early season wins for Andy Murray and Serena Williams at Brisbane. Li Na won the inaugural Shenzhen Open, whilst Agnieszka Radwanska started the year well, as she did last year. The world number one won at the Australian Open.
The rest of the year might not work out as pundits giving tennis betting tips anticipate, particularly in the women’s game. Despite her mastery in the second half of 2012, Williams may not be the automatic favourite for every non-clay events she enters.
Whether Victoria Azarenka, seemingly set for a long run as world number one, can fill the breach should that happen in 2013, is the year’s big question on the WTA tour. The Belarusian will surely win another slam this season, with her prospects of knocking Williams off one of her perches at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows looking good.
The women’s French Open will be as wide-open as ever, as the presence of six slam winners in the top nine of the rankings and six different winners in the last six years suggests. The time might have come for a real surprise winner, with Sloane Stephens showing at Melbourne that breakthroughs can be made at majors.
Rafael Nadal might not quite be the forgotten man of men’s tennis – he is the defending Roland Garros champion and world number five – but the Spaniard needs to make an impression at a big one this year to show he is over his knee trouble. Murray and Novak Djokovic will be the men to beat as he seeks to do so.
The Scot’s win over Roger Federer in the Melbourne semi-finals felt like a watershed moment, and whilst the latter will be a threat at Wimbledon, a win apiece for his three big rivals at the remaining tennis events is the likeliest outcome.