On the men's side, top-seeded and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic is the favorite. Second-seeded Roger Federer, who is also 31, can suffer in the heat, which has been over 110 degrees the last week.
Andy Murray, seeded third, goes to Melbourne now with the belief he can win big tournaments.
“What I did at the end of last year, it meant a lot to my confidence,” said Murray, who won the Olympics and his first Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open.
Darren Cahill, the Australian commentator for ESPN2, predicts that Murray will win another major this year, that Nadal will be focused for the French Open and, “Never count Federer out. But you can never bet against Djokovic on a hard surface, so I like his chances here.
”But here in 2013, we might start seeing some of the future. Milos Raonic, Bernard Tomic, Ryan Harrison, among others. Young guys will start coming through.“
John Isner, who would have been the highest-seeded American man, withdrew from the tournament with a bone bruise in his right knee, leaving 22nd-seeded Sam Querrey as the highest-ranked American man.
The tournament will be televised on both ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel beginning Monday.
Distributed by MCT Information Services