Wilander: Spanish ace the undisputed king
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is the man to beat at the 2011 Australian Open, according to seven-times grand slam winner Mats Wilander.
“Rafael Nadal is the heavy favourite for the Australian
Open,” the Swedish great declared, before his
match against South African Wayne Ferreira as part of the Champions
Downunder Tournament in Sydney on Friday.
“Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are in the mix as well.”
However, the Serb and Scot stars need to step up if they want to overthrow Nadal.
“There are lots of questions you could ask about these two,” Wilander said.
“With Andy, you have to ask if he can win a grand slam.
" Novak is a very good player but he doesn’t have a positive attitude when it comes to the game. Breaking tennis racquets isn’t sending the right message.”
Some critics believe Nadal will dominate the game in 2011 once again, but Wilander won't discard Swiss ace Roger Federer just yet.
“Roger is always a threat. It will just be a harder time for him to get to any finals now,” Wilander said.
“His play has since become more aggressive and somewhat rejuvenated his career, so he will be ready for Australia.
“Who knows with Federer being able to win in Melbourne. I think it will be more about survival for him.”
Wilander retired in 1996 after only playing in one Grand Slam event that year, the French Open. From 1982 through 1989, he won three Australian Opens, three French Opens and one US Open singles title, plus one doubles title at Wimbledon.
His career is a statistician’s dream. He won three of the four Grand Slam singles events in 1988 and finished that year ranked World No. 1.
He was unfortunate in tasting victory at Wimbledon, but twice won the Australian Open when the tournament was still played on grass, making Wilander one of only five men to have won Grand Slam singles titles on all surfaces.
Wilander and Nadal are the only men in tennis history to have won at least two Grand Slam singles titles on each of three surfaces.
Wilander's memorable victories include winning the Australian Open against Pat Cash in 1988, in the maiden year of the tournament at Melbourne Park, and beating Ivan Lendl in the 1985 French Open.