Saturday, 16 January 2010

Australian Open Men's Draw

Everyone is saying how difficult Federer's draw is but the first thing I thought was - poor Igor Andreev. He's been doing consistently in the Australian Open but hhe'll have no chance of making it to the 3rd round with Federer as his 1st opponent. The winner of Chela Vs. Hanescu shouldn't be a problem for Federer. The lucky draw of Stephane Robert, Potito Starace, Oscar Hernandez and Albert Montanes will pose no threat to Federer as all 4 of these possible 3rd Round opponents of Federer have never been to the third round! In my opinion this draw already seems quite simple for Federer, yes he may have more difficult opponents further ahead but to make the 4th round already shows that the draw isn't that tough - everyone has to play difficult players by the QF's so what's the fuss.

Lleyton Hewitt could be a possible 4th Round opponent of Federer but from knowledge the hype this match up brings pales in comparison to the result. Some relatively inexperienced Grand Slam players such as Ricardo Hocevar (BRA), Donald Young (USA), Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) and Frederic Gil (POR) will make Hewitt a favourite to play Federer is the 4th round. Of course though we could see a rematch of Hewitt Vs. Baghdatis where Baghdatis won this week. David Ferrer is a threat, but losing early in Auckland hasn't done his pre-Australian preparation any good.

My prediction: Federer Vs. Hewitt (despite Hewitt losing to Baghdatis last week, who's in his draw for the Australian)

Fernando Verdasco had a great Australian Open last year but will he emulate that success? I'm not sure but he should be fine for the first three rounds at least in my opinion as there is very little competition.

Juan Monaco could be a possible opponent of his, though a first round opponent against Ernests Gulbis could be tricky. But of course the trickiest part would be facing the in-form Nikolay Davydenko. Could he possibly topple Roger Federer three times in a row? I hope so! But he's never made it past the quaterfinals here, is that something to worry about.

My bet on Verdasco Vs. Davydenko could be a tough match considering that Verdasco won the AAMI Kooyang Classic but Davydenko does seem to be on great form.

Predictions: Fernando Verdasco Vs Nikolay Davydenko

I don't predict any major shocks in the first quarter because there are a number of newbies and people who generally have failed at the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic heads the 2nd quarter, this will be his first tour match this year so will he be in form? He should be safe for the first 3 rounds at least. A nasty match up between Mikhail Youzhny and Richard Gasquet in the first round means one of my many favourite players will lose in the 1st round. Though neither are in the form which took them to the top of their game this should still be a difficult match. Tommy Robredo could possibly be a 4th round opponent against Novak Djokovic but I'm not convinced he can reach that far. However what is worrying is that Novak Djokovic lost 2 of his 3 matches at the AAMI Kooyang Classic, one of which was against Bernard Tomic - is that a bad sign?

Prediction: Novak Djokovic Vs Unexpected player!

Jo Wilfried Tsonga is one of the plausible QF match ups against Novak Djokovic. A repeat of the 07 Aussie final. But Tsonga seems to have faded away over the more consistent new Top 10 players such as Del Potro (he did however beat Del Potro at the Kooyang Classic). Janko Tipsaveric and Tommy Haas could pose a threat to Jo Wilfried Tsonga, though not a strong enough threat to beat him I think. However after that his threats come in the form of Nicolas Almagro and Robin Soderling, both have not been deep into the Australian Open.

Prediction: Jo Wilfried Tsonga Vs Robin Soderling - no idea so best off chose the top seeds!

Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro make the 3rd Quarter. Andy Roddick won in Brisbane so his first 3 round opponents shouldn't be too much of a problem. Tomas Berdych has been a consistent 4th Round player for the last 3 years so he could possibly be Roddick's 4th Round opponent, however Sebastien Grosjean and Fernando Gonzalez have a decent record at the Australian Open. I don't know how well Fernando Gonzalez has been getting on but I've basically not heard about Sebastien Grosjean for the past 3 months.

Prediction: Andy Roddick Vs. Fernando Gonzalez

Marin Cilic Vs. Fabrice Santoro could be interesting but I favour Marin more here. I think Marin will be through to the 4th round as I don't see Wawrinka, Kunitsyn, Acasuso or Garcia Lopez making a challenge. James Blake could be a threat but he seems to have dissapeared as of late so the safer bet is Juan Martin Del Potro

Prediction: Marin Cilic Vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

Andy Murray has dropped to 5th after playing in the Hopman Cup, shame considering now he has Nadal to worry about, he's not the best at the Australian so I'm worried he may be one of the early shocks. Jurgen Melzer is a likely 3rd round match which Murray should excel against. John Isner's great run took him to the title this week so he could possibly be a threat, Gael Monfils will probably be his 3rd round match considering his inexperienced opponents. I'd like Monfils to do well but on the other hand I think Isner may have the lift to go further.

Prediction: Andy Murray Vs. John Isner!

The next section is a difficult one and therefore Nadal should have an easy path. Personally I think Nadal may have the easiest draw to the QF's. There are a few plausible threats such as Stepanek, Fish, Ljubicic and Kohlschreiber but I'm not convinced they'll go far.

Prediction: Ivan Ljubicic Vs. Rafael Nadal

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