Top players still unsure about best route to Australian Open

Mon Jan 5, 2015 5:56am EST
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By Julian Linden

BRISBANE (Reuters) - Plotting a path to the Australian Open has never been trickier or more uncertain. Even the best players are baffled about the best way to prepare for their annual trek Down Under.

In a sport where players analyze every tiny detail in the hope of finding an edge and rigidly stick to tried and tested routes to the other three grand slams, the world's best cannot agree on the right road to winning the Australian Open.

Even past champions are not sure which way to go, spreading themselves as far apart as the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Some have opted to play only singles, some have added doubles. Some are playing mixed team events, some are playing exhibitions. Some are playing multiple warm-up events, others none at all.

Novak Djokovic has won four of the last seven Australian Opens but even the Serbian cannot decide on the best place to play.

For three of his wins, he warmed up at the Hopman Cup in Perth and for the other he did not play at all. This year he is playing the Qatar Open, along with Rafa Nadal.

For Nadal, the Qatar Open could be a good omen as he used that as his warm-up event before he won his only Australian Open title in 2009.

Roger Federer also played at the Qatar Open before he won the Australian Open in 2006 and 2010. But in 2007 he won the Australian Open without playing any warm-up and when he won the Qatar Open in 2005 and 2011, he did not win the Australian Open later that month.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves during his semi-final tennis match against Kei Nishikori of Japan at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 15, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville