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Leading men's Australian Open contenders

AAP logoAAP 12/01/2017 Darren Walton

HOW THE LEADING MEN SHAPE UP FOR THE 2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

ANDY MURRAY (SCO)

Age: 29

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US58,828,644 ($A80.66 million)

Career titles: 44

Grand slam titles: 3 (US Open 2012; Wimbledon 2013, 2016)

Australian Open win-loss record: 45-11

Best Australian Open results: finalist 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016

No other man has ever lost the same grand slam final five times but the Scot has nabbed the top seeding for the first time with a spectacular nine-title season in 2016 and feels this is his time.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB)

Age: 29

Ranking: 2

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US107,898,543 ($A146.55 million)

Career titles: 67

Grand slam titles: 12 (Australian Open 2008, 2011-13, 2015, 2016; French Open 2016; Wimbledon 2011, 2014, 2015; US Open 2011, 2015)

Australian Open win-loss record: 57-6

Best Australian Open results: champion 2008, 2011-13, 2015, 2016

The Serb appeared back to his best in opening 2017 with title success in Doha and deserves slight favouritism over Murray in his quest for a record-equalling seventh crown at Melbourne Park.

MILOS RAONIC (CAN)

Age: 26

Ranking: 3

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US14,416,912 ($A19.58 million)

Career titles: 8

Grand slam titles: 0

Australian Open win-loss record: 19-6

Best Australian Open: semi-finals 2016

The power-serving Canadian continues to edge closer to a maiden grand slam crown, reaching his first major final at Wimbledon last year, and looms as a serious threat to the usual suspects in 2017.

STAN WAWRINKA (SUI)

Age: 31

Ranking: 4

Plays: Right-handed

Career prize money: $US27,828,006 ($A37.80 million)

Career singles titles: 15

Grand slam titles: 3 (Australian Open 2014; French Open 2015; US Open 2016)

Australian Open win-loss record: 31-10

Best Australian Open result: champion 2014

After pocketing slams in 2014, 2015 and 2016, only a fool would dismiss the Swiss from reigning for a second time in Melbourne. Has proven firepower to blow the best of the best away on his day.

ROGER FEDERER (SUI)

Age: 35

Ranking: 17

Plays: right-handed

Career prize money: $US98,830,825 ($A134.24 million)

Career titles: 88

Grand slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2004, 2006-07, 2010; French Open 2009; Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012; US Open 2004-2008)

Australian Open win-loss record: 80-13

Best Australian Open results: champion 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010

Hasn't been ranked this low since 2001 but the four-time champion and 12-times semi-finalist believes he can work his way into title contention after returning from a six-month layoff with three hit-outs at the Hopman Cup.

RAFAEL NADAL (ESP)

Age: 30

Ranking: 9

Plays: left-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US78,737,382 ($A106.94 million)

Career titles: 69

Grand slam titles: 14 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005-08, 2010-14; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; US Open 2010, 2013)

Australian Open win-loss record: 45-10

Best Australian Open result: champion 2009

A shock first-round loser last year before a wrist injury wiped him out of French Open and Wimbledon contention, but the king of clay remains convinced he can be a title force in Melbourne if he gets on a roll.

BEST OUTSIDER

DOMINIC THIEM (AUT)

Age: 23

Ranking: 8

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US5,176,474 ($A7.03 million)

Career titles: 7

Grand slam titles: 0

Australian Open win-loss record: 3-3

Best Australian Open result: third round 2016

The youngest player in the world's top 10 enjoyed a breakout year in 2016, winning four titles from six finals and making the last four of the French Open to confirm himself as a genuine grand slam hopeful.

BEST AUSTRALIAN HOPES

NICK KYRGIOS

Age: 21

Ranking: 14

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US3,589,419 ($A4.88 million)

Career titles: 3

Grand slam titles: 0

Australian Open win-loss record: 7-3

Best Australian Open result: quarter-finalist 2015

A knee injury undermined his build-up but an all-important first-time top-16 seeding will protect the 21-year-old from a run-in with any of the heavyweights until at least the second week.

BERNARD TOMIC

Age: 24

Ranking: 27

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US4,780,593 ($A6.49 million)

Career titles: 3

Grand slam titles: 0

Australian Open win-loss record: 15-8

Best Australian Open results: fourth round 2012, 2015, 2016

He's been Australia's most consistent performer in recent years but arrives for his latest tilt underdone and out of form.

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