COMMENTARY | The first quarter of the 2013 tennis calendar is officially in the books, and the results have left the remainder of the year very much up for grabs.
The world's No. 1-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, came up short in the last two tournaments he entered and is no longer a clear favorite heading into the second quarter of the season. Rafael Nadal has successfully returned from injury and looks poised to be a significant threat on red clay as the tour winds through Europe.
Andy Murray, having just claimed his second career title in Miami against David Ferrer, will certainly be looking to leverage his recent momentum into tangible results on the red dirt. Murray has yet to reach a final at Roland Garros, but he could be a real factor this year with Ivan Lendl still in his corner.
Of course, Grand Slam tennis action can't be discussed without mentioning Roger Federer. With the most Grand Slam titles in the history of the game, Federer is dangerous in any tournament he enters. Even more so if one of the other top players gets upset in an early round.
Looking forward to the last three Slams in 2013, there are several potential matchups that look especially enticing. Fans can only hope the tennis gods are accommodating and turn this potential into reality.
2013 French Open Final
Djokovic and Nadal opened the throttle on their rivalry in the last two years and met in 10 finals from 2011-2012. That's one more than even Federer and Nadal contested in their best two-year period (2006-2007, nine finals).
The 2012 French Open final was characterized by rain and extreme playing conditions, which forced Djokovic and Nadal to slog it out on mud rather than dirt. A dream matchup for 2013 would be for these two players to meet once again, except this time under ideal playing conditions. Such a test would reveal even more about their rivalry and help ascertain Djokovic's true chances of winning a title on what has effectively become Nadal's home court.
2013 Wimbledon Final
Each of the Big Four has made exactly one appearance in a Wimbledon final over the last two years. This fact alone suggests the Wimbledon trophy might be the most up for grabs of any Slam in 2013.
Given each player will be playing with at least some degree of confidence, seeding and player-draws at the 2013 Wimbledon will be incredibly important. At this point, it's highly likely that Federer and Nadal could be the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.
If Nadal is placed on Murray's side, and Federer is placed on Djokovic's side, the final could likely be contested once again by Federer and Nadal. The opposite draw, one in which Nadal is paired with Djokovic and Federer with Murray, would definitively create some of the most exciting semifinal action seen in quite some time.
If both Federer and Nadal somehow get placed on opposite sides of the draw and survive through the semifinals, the final would represent their first meeting at Wimbledon since the famous 2008 clash, a match often referred to as the best of all time. Given the realities of Nadal's fragile knees and Federer's increasing age, this could be the best shot for one last showdown on Centre Court.
Such a match would almost definitely set a new record for the most viewers of a Grand Slam final in the history of the sport.
2013 U.S. Open Final
The only person to win a Grand Slam title in the last seven years outside the Big Four is Juan Martin del Potro. In 2009, he overcame unbelievable odds and beat Roger Federer under the bright lights in New York. Juan Martin, in the process, also became the first person ever to beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament, virtually a Herculean achievement at that time.
At Indian Wells this year, del Potro beat Murray and Djokovic and took a lead against Nadal into the second set of the final. Although he ultimately lost the match, del Potro served notice at Indian Wells that he is once again a force to be reckoned with.
In 2013, there is little doubt that the Argentine will be a favorite at the U.S. Open. It's also highly likely that if Novak Djokovic doesn't claim the French or Wimbledon titles, he will come out guns blazing in New York.
A U.S. Open final between del Potro and Djokovic under these conditions would be an epic battle. In 2013, the typical cracking of lightning usually signaling rain above Arthur Ashe Stadium may be drowned out by the thunderous forehands being struck on the court of play.
Andrew Prochnow is a derivatives trader by day and a tennis buff by night. He is a frequent contributor at the Bleacher Report.
- Sports & Recreation
- Novak Djokovic
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal