Sunday, January 16, 2011

Australian Open Preview -- Men's Draw

This will be much shorter than the women's preview (I think) because it's basically a two-horse race. Nadal / Federer are to men's tennis today what Navratilova / Evert were to women's tennis in the late 70s and early 80s. In other words, if you're anyone else you're basically playing for a spot in the semi-finals.

1. Rafael Nadal -- Sometimes I forget that Nadal is human. His physical strength and talent are impressive, but not nearly so much as his mental fortitude. There's been talk of his short off-season sapping his energy, but I think there is virtually no chance he won't be in the final two weeks from today.

2. Roger Federer -- Conversely, over the course of the last year we may have forgotten how superhuman Federer can be. I expected him to have lost interest in being number two by now, but I supposed he would just go off to play with his kids rather than hiring a coach and setting his sights on getting back to number one. If anyone can do it, he can.

3. Novak Djokovic -- The US Open last year highlighted the Djoker's plight. He can play six brilliant matches, but if number six is against Federer or Nadal winning that one takes too much out of him to win number seven. However, if either of those two go down early Djokovic's stock rises dramatically.

4. Robin Soderling -- No matter how much he wins, he just doesn't seem to belong up here with the big guns. And honestly, if Juan Martin Del Potro hadn't gotten hurt last year, I don't think Soderling is in the top four right now.

5. Andy Murray -- Murray faces the same hurdle that Djokovic does, with the added weight of having never won a grand slam final. It's a long, steep hill. It's doubtful that he'll make it to the top this time around.

6. Tomas Berdych -- I think it's funny that for years tennis commentators talked about Berdych's potential and how if he ever got his act together he'd be a force to be reckoned with. But now that he's gotten to a grand slam final, those same commentators don't think he has what it takes to actually win one. What's even funnier is I was in agreement with the former opinion and I'm in agreement with the latter. as well.

7. David Ferrer -- Do I really have to profile the rest of them? Ferrer is a good player. He'll make whomever he faces in the quarter-final work for the victory.

8. Andy Roddick -- Every January, Roddick shows up to Australia with a new attitude (and often a new coach), raring to go. He's always got a great chance to finally win his second slam. He never does.

9. Fernando Verdasco -- Ditto Verdasco, except it's his first major he's always / never ready to win.

10. Mikhail Youzhny -- Youzhny has virtually no chance of getting beyond the quarter-finals.

11. Jergen Melzer -- If Del Potro starts playing like Del Potro, Melzer won't even live up to his seed.

12. Gael Monfils -- The Jelena Jankovic of the men's draw. He may not win, but he'll make a headline or two before he's done.

13. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -- It's hard to believe it was just three years ago that Tsonga thumped Nadal in the semi-finals here. He'll be lucky to get out of the fourth round this year.

14. Nicolas Almagro -- Almagro's got Djokovic in the fourth round. Enough said.

15. Marin Cilic -- Cilic has Nadal.

16. Mardy Fish -- Oh my God, can you believe how much weight Fish has lost! Oh, we're not doing that anymore? Then I guess all I have to say here is, Fish has Federer in the fourth round.

Nadal defeats Murray
Federer defeats Djokovic

Rafael Nadal 

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