Rivalry: Andy Murray and Milos Raonic

Here’s something that tennis enthusiasts will eat up: the official blog of the ATP has launched a series detailing some of the fiercest on-court rivalries this year. First up: Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

At first glance, Murray vs. Raonic may not seem like much of a rivalry at all. They met six times throughout the year, with the Scot besting the Canadian in each outing. However, during each of their encounters Raonic showed flashes of brilliance, making none of Murray’s victories come easy. During the 2016 Australian Open, Raonic won the first two sets and had the current Number One on the ropes, before Murray rallied to advance to finals. The two athletes also met at the quarterfinals of the  Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and the finals of of both the Aegon Championships and Wimbledon. Raonic lost in each bout, and his the Wimbledon match resulted in his first runner-up finish. The two last met this month for the ATP World Tour Finals, with Murray winning in dramatic fashion.

Raonic is four years younger than Murray, and could very well gain the experience necessary to beat him in the coming years. Their budding rivalry also demonstrates that all wins aren’t landslides, and that a thorn in the side can stick around for ages.

2017 Australian Open Previews

The first Grand Slam Tournament of 2017 is fast approaching! Here are a few expert opinions and insights on what we can expect from some notable names at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray: He may be the current number one and have scooped his second Wimbledon championship and defended the top Olympic honors in the same year, but it’s the Australian Open that Andy Murray can’t get out of his mind. The UK tennis star has never won in the land down under, and even though he has the chance to close out the calendar year as World Number One, he’ll be coming into January hungrier than ever before.

Novak Djokovic: Turn Murray’s Australian Open misfortunes into victories and you’ve got a good picture of Djokovic’s performance. The Serbian athlete has won the Open six times, five of them against Andy Murray. If you’re sticking with the odds, Djokovic is the clear favorite to win again this year. And although Murray is poised to end 2016 as the Number One, Djokovic could lay claim to that spot come 2017.

Nick Kyrgios: A wild card, but ESPN’s Mark Philippoussis thinks he has a shot. The Australian is strong and talented enough to get it done, but Philippoussis warns against his impetuous temperament and youth. The 21-year old Kyrgios has been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and tanking in the past, and winning a Grand Slam requires a tremendous amount of mental fortitude in addition to raw physical talent. He’s only 21 and has a lot of growing to do, but anything could happen!

Lizette Cabrera: Kyrgios may be the wild card pick to win, but his fellow countrywoman Lizette Cabrera is an actual wildcard draw. The 18-year old received her wildcard invitation during her time at a camp with some of Australia’s finest tennis players, meaning she won’t need to participate in the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs. Cabrera still has youth on her side and is only getting better— she recently beat her first top 100 player, no. 75 Kirumi Nara of Japan.