Murray, Serena will dominate the 2017 Grand Slam events

— -- We're barely into the new tennis season, yet we're confident how the year will shake out.

So confident that our writers around the globe make their predictions for all four majors.

Australian Open

Men's winner

Nic Atkin, ESPN UK: Andy Murray will be the favorite to claim what would be his first Australian Open. And you know he will be hell-bent on finally taking his chance after five final defeats.

Carl Bialik, Novak Djokovic has won this event five of the past six years. He's still No. 2 in the world. Murray will surely be desperate to get his first after five runner-up finishes in the past seven years, but the Serb remains the man to beat in Australia.

Peter Bodo, Murray will overcome years of tears and frustration with a title in Melbourne. Hey, fifth time lucky, right?

Greg Garber, Djokovic. He's won five of the past six Down Under, so why not six of seven?

Gaurav Kalra, ESPN India:?Andy Murray should carry the momentum from the end of last year into the start of the season. The surface suits his playing style and he clearly has the edge over rivals at the moment.

Lucas Hanashiro, ESPN Brasil: Murray. The new No. 1 has played five finals at the Australian Open and didn't win a single one. What better way to start 2017 than winning a Grand Slam title he came so close for so many times?

Women's winner

Atkin: It was at Melbourne last year that we finally saw Serena Williams vulnerable once again. After a nice extended break, which included getting engaged, she will likely be healthier and happier and ready to finally topple Steffi Graf's major record.

Bialik: Angelique Kerber. Every women's field looks wide open this year. When in doubt, go with the world No. 1 and defending champ.

Bodo: The way Kerber popped up to win last year tends to obscure what a terrific record Williams has accumulated in Melbourne. She's won it six times, and she'll break her Open era Grand Slam singles title tie with Graf by winning her 23rd major.

Garber: Simona Halep. It's time for her to break through. Aussie coach Darren Cahill gets her over the top.

Kalra:?Angelique Kerber will be carrying the confidence of her win last year and the strong finish to 2016. Her counterpunching style will be a big plus in Melbourne and she has the advantage of the chasing pack not quite hitting their straps yet.

Hanashiro: Williams has won six Australian Open titles. She will rebound this year and regain the No. 1 ranking, and it will start Down Under.

French Open

Men's winner

Atkin: Murray excelled on clay last season despite the uncertainties surrounding his coaching situation. With Ivan Lendl back in his box, the world No. 1 will have his best chance ever of winning the French Open. No one is more motivated and driven right now than Murray.

Bialik: Rafael Nadal looked like a contender until withdrawing last year and still has lost only twice in 74 matches at Roland Garros. He's a risky pick after playing little since that withdrawal, but he showed he's still a big-event player with his form at the Olympics.

Bodo: Djokovic is much more lethal on clay than his lone Roland Garros title suggests. The odds of Nadal recapturing his former indomitable form are by this time slim.

Garber: Nadal. At 31, Rafa collects his 10th title at Roland Garros.

Kalra:?Despite Rafael Nadal's patchy form and fitness problems over the last couple of years, if healthy he is the most dangerous player on the surface. By the time the clay court season rolls in, Nadal would have found the confidence in his game again and be a front runner in Paris

Hanashiro: The reigning champion of Roland Garros, Djokovic, has showed tremendous improvement when playing on clay in the past few years. The former No. 1 reached the French Open final in 2014 and '15 before winning it in 2016. Expect a repeat.

Women's winner

Atkin: Garbine Muguruza shocked Williams in the 2016 French Open final, and clay is her best surface. Roland Garros will present her best chance for another Slam in 2017.

Bialik: It's risky to pick Maria Sharapova so soon after her suspension is over, but it's also hard to imagine anyone who'd be more motivated to come back strong and disprove her doubters.

Bodo: Muguruza made a hash of it in 2016 after winning the title at Roland Garros. Expect her to hit the reset button at the tournament where she's had so many great wins.

Garber: Sharapova. Her comeback after a long drug ban goes deliriously well. It's her third French Open title.

Kalra:?Though Garbine Muguruza had a poor run after her win in Paris last year, she will be a big factor on clay. Combines her booming shots with great court coverage and uses her impressive wingspan well, expect her to make a strong run to the title.

Hanashiro: Williams has progressed tremendously well on clay courts, even though she lost last year's Roland Garros final to Muguruza. Williams has the tools to win every single tournament this season, including the French Open.


Men's winner

Atkin: Starting to sound like a broken record here, but I think 2017 is going to be a special year for Murray. While an 18th major for Roger Federer would be a fairytale scenario, Djokovic is likely to be the only man standing in Murray's way. I would still pick the Scot to retain his Wimbledon title.

Bialik: Murray has always been great on grass, but now he has the confidence of a world No. 1 player who excels on all surfaces. Make it back-to-back years for Murray.

Bodo: Federer's long wait for that 18th Grand Slam title will be over when he wins at the All England Club. The five-year Slam-less drought will end.

Garber: Murray. He's won two of the past four at the All England Club. The Scot is very comfortable on Centre Court.

Kalra:?Perhaps an emotional pick in Roger Federer, but grass is his best surface. While in Australia and France his game can be neutralised, if he gets on a roll on grass, he is still a big factor. Expect him to pocket his 18th Grand Slam crown.

Hanashiro: Federer. Bold statement, I know. This might be the last chance for Federer to win a Grand Slam. Having himself injured last year won't help the cause, but Federer has been preparing himself properly for the 2017 season.

Women's winner

Atkin: Williams shouldn't have too many problems picking up another Wimbledon title this year. She is peerless on grass, and her challengers simply don't come close.

Bialik: It's always hard to pick against 22-time major champ Williams, especially at Wimbledon. One of her biggest threats, two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, might not be 100 percent, even if she does come back in time.

Bodo: Williams rules Wimbledon. Only her sister Venus Williams has a comparably grass-friendly game. Serena Williams will be unstoppable, especially if she hasn't won either of the previous two majors.

Garber: Williams. Just like last year, this will be her only Slam win in 2017.

Kalra:?Much like Federer, Serena Williams can be very compelling on grass. Expect her to struggle in the first half of the season against a bunch of new players, but at Wimbledon her powerful serve and groundstrokes give her the edge.

Hanashiro: Kerber has showed tremendous resilience on grass. It takes time to become a champion in such a unique court, and Kerber's experience from last year might be just enough for her to beat Williams.

US Open

Men's winner

Atkin: Based on the past six months, it will take something special to stop Murray, making it a clean sweep at the Slams. With no Olympics cluttering up his schedule, Murray can properly prepare for Flushing Meadows this year.

Bialik: In a year that feels wide open, why not pick a different champ for each Slam? Juan Martin del Potro won in New York and received enormous crowd support there last year. By September, he'll have had a chance to amass enough points for a high seed and an easier draw.

Bodo: It's going to be another year of hard lessons and learning for Nick Kyrgios, but by the time the US Open rolls around he will be ready to win his first major.

Garber: Del Potro. After 2009, lightning strikes twice for the beloved Argentine.

? Hanashiro: This might be the toughest tournament for Murray, who hasn't reached the US Open final in four years. But he'll win it and finish the year No. 1 again.

Kalra:?For the big Juan Martin Del Potro, this is the most conducive surface to unleash his power game. He has won in New York before and if he can stay injury free, an encore is on the cards.

Women's winner

Atkin: Kerber is too good not to win another major title in 2017. She proved last year that she is the best player in the world.

Bialik: Karolina Pliskova looked fearsome in reaching last year's final and came so close to winning. With her serve and baseline power, she seems likely to break through.

Bodo: Kerber will be successful in her title defense after Williams gets psyched out in her home Slam again.

Garber: Pliskova. After reaching the final a year ago (and losing to Kerber), it's her time.

Hanashiro: Williams has had a lot of success at the US Open despite not winning it in the past two years. She'll be on her game, and when that happens, who is going to stop her?

Kalra:?It will be a while before Maria Sharapova can find her feet back on returning to the circuit. However, her weapons -- a big forehand and a solid backcourt game -- can be in working order by the time the year is coming to a close. If firing, Sharapova will be hard to tame in New York.