A month without tennis is not a lot, but it’s already too much for you. Good news! The 2013 season has already started and promises to be thrilling. We’ve come up with seven good reasons to follow it closely for the...

A month without tennis is not a lot, but it’s already too much for you. Good news! The 2013 season has already started and promises to be thrilling. We’ve come up with seven good reasons to follow it closely for the next eleven months. New balls, then...

 

Because competition to the “Big Four” is coming...

Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray. Since 2008, men's tennis has been ruled by the Gang of Four, a group which doesn’t share titles and honours readily. If nobody complains of the spectacle offered by "the Big Four", we wouldn't mind a bit of diversity. And if 2013 were to be the year it all changed? There are several reasons to believe in the emergence of a new world order - Del Potro finally at peace with his body, a pugnacious and increasingly more-difficult-to-play Ferrer, a mature Berdych, a Gasquet convinced that he has nothing to fear, and why not a less-moody Dolgopolov and a Janowicz still floating on his Parisian cloud. Let's go for it! And if in 2013 we were to see for the first time since 2005 a Grand Slam final (Safin - Hewitt in 2005 in Melbourne) without one of the four kings of the tour? After all, anything is possible…  

Because Rafael Nadal may not win Roland Garros...

Roland Garros is a tournament held in Paris on clay courts in the spring and it’s always Rafael Nadal who falls backwards in triumph after scoring the last point of the fortnight. Aside from the Söderling hurricane in 2009, nobody has been able to challenge the Spaniard’s dominance on the red clay at Porte D’Auteuil. Will he take the opportunity to make it eight in 2013? Not so sure. Since the last Wimbledon, "Rafa" hasn’t left the treatment table in Manacor. However, even if we can trust him to return on top form, a certain Novak Djokovic has checked the Parisian appointment on his 2013 calendar. The Serb wasn’t far off in 2012 from seducing the only major that keeps resisting him. In June, he could finally realise his ambition.  

Because Andy Murray will win Wimbledon...

Yes, Andy Murray won Wimbledon in some way. But here we are talking about the "real" Wimbledon, which is played in white and where the winner doesn’t go on some kind of podium at the end. That one still eludes British men since Fred Perry in 1936. A name that Murray hasn't stop earing since he was 18. Except that now, Andy has joined the big boys. In winning the U.S. Open, he has rid himself of the label of "best player in the world without a Grand Slam title." To the eyes of everybody across Great Britain, he’s no longer the grumpy Scot that has to be supported by default. Andy is loved and he has already proved that he can win on grass in London. He just has to do it next July.  

Because it may be the last great season for Roger Federer...

When he's asked about declining, Roger Federer responds with humour: "Everyone must go one day. But I'm not 89 years old yet." The Swiss is only 31 and is doing quite well. But Federer is human and will one day get to the other side of the mountain. Maybe not in 2013. Like last year, Federer has cooked himself up a lighter program, to make sure to peak for the major events. Except in case of injury (even if Roger Federer is almost never injured), he should keep pleasuring our eyes during the next few months and disappointing more than a few opponents. After that, he could still start - maybe - an uneducable decline. Better to leave it as late as possible, we think...  

Because Richard Gasquet will finish in the Top 5...

Richard Gasquet is a strange case. Here’s a boy who can be counted amongst the top ten players in the world and is yet considered as a wasted talent, or as a "loser", especially in his own country. France was expecting a lot of this Mozart and doesn’t forgive him much. And if everything were to change in 2013? The winner in Doha in early January, Gasquet wants to break out this season. He doesn’t hesitate to talk Top 5. Presumptuous? Maybe not. At 26, the French seems to have improved his physical conditioning and lost his complexes when playing the very best. He just has to ignite the spark now…  

Because Serena Williams can achieve the Grand Slam...

In 1988, Serena Williams was seven years old and already had a racket in hand (thanks, Dad). In 1988, some girl named Steffi Graf achieved the last women's tennis Grand Slam (with the Olympics as bonus, making it a Golden Grand Slam). Twenty-five years later, the American could follow in the footsteps of Mrs Agassi. Since the last Wimbledon, the younger sister of Venus has been playing tennis from another planet. Advised by Patrick Mouratoglou, the American seems determined to rule the WTA Tour, and not just intermittently as in the past. Soon to be 32, Serena Williams has never seemed stronger.  

Because they are a few who won’t have it...

Fortunately for the suspense, they are many who don’t see it this way. We could almost forget, but Serena Williams is only third in the WTA rankings. Ahead of her, the "blondes" Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova aren't here for the decoration. The Pole, Agnieszka Radwanska, can also make some noise - and not just in small tournaments - with her tennis and its variation. Not to mention the German contingent led by Angelique Kerber and the ghost, Andrea Petkovic. In short, there's a healthy bloc ready to prevent Serena's one-woman show.   By Alexandre Pedro