After a year of change in 2016, there are several storylines to follow throughout and beyond the 2017 Australian Open.
Can (Sir) Andy Murray handle the pressure of being the top seed at a Grand Slam event for the first time in his career? Will Novak Djokovic rebound from his shaky end to 2016 and capture his seventh Australian Open title? Can Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal make another run and return to their previous top form? Can Australian young guns Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic make some noise?
We will know the answers to those questions in due time, but for now, let’s predict who will win the first grand slam of the year.
On paper, Murray should advance to the quarterfinals without much trouble, but he will be in for some tough matches against Americans Sam Querrey, who defeated Djokovic in the third round at Wimbledon last year, and John Isner, who has one of the best serves in all of tennis.
Round of 16 Prediction: Andy Murray  DEF. John Isner 
Roger Federer is the wild card of this entire tournament. He should advance to the third round, and from there, he will have to defeat five top ten players in a row to capture his 18th career grand slam title. Federer could face Tomas Berdych in the third round, Kei Nishikori in the fourth round, Murray in the quarterfinals, Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals, and Djokovic in the final. In a best-of-five set format, that is an extremely difficult task. But what difficult task hasn’t Federer completed in his illustrious career? The 35-year-old is 3-0 all-time against Berdych at this tournament and has defeated Nishikori in their last three matchups.
Round of 16: Roger Federer  DEF. Kei Nishikori 
Let’s skip right to the fourth round, shall we? This fourth round match between Wawrinka and Kyrgios may end up being the match of the tournament. Not only does he have the home crowd behind him, but Kyrgios has what it takes to defeat Wawrinka, as he did last year at the Madrid Open.
Round of 16: Nick Kyrgios  DEF. Stan Wawrinka 
This section of the draw is WIDE OPEN. Based on experience, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is probably the most likely player to reach the fourth round, but the other spot is completely up in the air. Tomic will be the popular pick, but look out for Great Britain’s Daniel Evans. He’s defeated Tomic at a Grand Slam event before (2013 US Open) and is coming off a huge win over eighth-ranked Dominic Thiem this past week in Sydney, where he finished as the runner-up.
Round of 16: Daniel Evans DEF. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 
Nadal is another wild card in this tournament, but unlike Federer, his road is not as easy. His first round opponent, Florian Mayer, defeated Nadal in their only match on hard court surface. Don’t be surprised to see Nadal bow out in the first round for the second year in a row. This will open the door for 19-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev to face Gael Monfils in the fourth round.
Round of 16: Gael Monfils  DEF. Alexander Zverev 
Compared to the rest of the top seeds, Milos Raonic looks to have the easiest road to the semifinals. However, look out for Gilles Muller. The 33-year-old veteran is coming off a tournament win in Sydney and has defeated Raonic both times in their only two meetings. Look for him to reach the fourth round against fellow veteran and former top-five player David Ferrer, who has defeated Muller at the Australian Open in the past.
Round of 16: David Ferrer  DEF. Gilles Muller
Very few players in this section of the draw are in strong form, including Thiem. With the being said, the 23-year-old should reach the quarterfinals without much trouble, assuming he can find top form by the third round. As for the bottom half of this section, watch out for 34-year-old Russian Dmitry Tursunov. He is 2-0 all-time against David Goffin  and has defeated Ivo Karlovic  in the past. Once he reaches the fourth round, however, Thiem should not have much of a problem defeating Tursunov.
Round of 16: Dominic Thiem  DEF. Dmitry Tursunov
There is one first round match in this section that could shake up the entire tournament. Yup, you guessed it… its Djokovic vs. Fernando Verdasco. It was only nine days ago when Djokovic saved five match points against Verdasco in the Doha semifinals. The defending champion must be in top form right from the opening serve to avoid a monumental upset. If Djokovic does slip up, look for Richard Gasquet to potentially advance to the second week of the tournament.
Round of 16: Novak Djokovic  DEF. Richard Gasquet 
Roger Federer  DEF. Andy Murray 
Nick Kyrgios  DEF. Daniel Evans (FUN FACT: Evans and Kyrgios are doubles partners and will be teaming up at this tournament!)
David Ferrer  DEF. Gael Monfils 
Novak Djokovic  DEF. Dominic Thiem 
Nick Kyrgios  DEF. Roger Federer 
Novak Djokovic  DEF. David Ferrer 
Novak Djokovic  DEF. Nick Kyrgios 
Let me know what you think in the comment section below or send me a tweet (@danny_shin131). Who do you think is going to come out on top?