Like a lot of things on the ATP tour these days, this Australian Open can be broken down into two sets of questions: One for the Top 3, the other for everyone else.
Let me start at the top. This year Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray come to Melbourne with very distinct story lines. Djokovic is looking to stamp his end-of-2012 return to No. 1 with a major title, and leave no questions as to who the best player in the world is. At 31, Federer is trying, again, to, as Australian legend John Newcombe put it in a Melbourne paper on Friday, "fend off father time." Amid talk of reducing his schedule to extend his career, he begins 2013 having played no Aussie Open warm-up events. Murray, meanwhile, arrives in Melbourne with the biggest question mark on his back. What did his Olympic and U.S. Open wins mean, exactly? Will they prove to be, in the tradition of Murray’s coach, Ivan Lendl, a psychic opening of the major-title floodgates? Or were they one-offs from a guy who was bound to break through eventually, but who isn’t made of No. 1 stuff?