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Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Posted on: January 15, 2010 9:33 pm
 
Finally, the Grand Slam season is back. In terms of ranking the Australian Open, I have it 3rd on my list. Living on the East Coast and having to watch the premiere matches at 3:00 AM makes it tough to watch sometimes, but that's why they invented TIVO lol. I'll give credit to Melbourne, those primetime matches at 3 AM usually live up to the hype (ex. Nadal vs. Verdasco, Nadal vs. Federer, Dokic vs. Safina) just to name a few.

As for my predictions, we will start on the men's side:

On the men's side, it all starts with the two best players in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer is coming off of a good 2009 with a Wimbledon and a French Open title. Now with the chase for Pete Sampras off of his back, he can relax and just play tennis, so I expect him to go deep into the second week as usual. As for the man from Mayorca, Rafael Nadal, the question surrounding him is his fitness. The legs did not look good last time out at the US Open particularly in the Del Potro semifinal match. But, he has looked well in the exhibition season and in the first hard court tournament from what I have seen. I root for a Federer-Nadal final in every Grand Slam, but there are a ton of players who can spoil the party.   Right now, I have Nadal winning the Australian Open.

1. Andy Roddick - He got placed in Del Potro's quarter of the bracket and with the reports of the Argentinean having a banged up wrist, it brings back the same question that Nadal had in August up in New York. This draw is a tough one for Roddick with Cilic and Fernando Gonzalez, two big hitters who have the ability to hit a Roddick serve back with a ton of power. Plus, if Roddick has to deal with Federer in the final, could he handle him this time around because he would have to go through Del Potro, Nadal,and Federer in 3 consecutive rounds. Time to see if he can do it

2. Marin Cilic - The sleeper of the tournament in my opinion. The young Croatian had his turning point last year in Flushing with making a quarterfinals including an upset over Andy Murray in the 4th Round. This guy is going to come into Melbourne with a ton of confidence and could give Del Potro a run for his money if they meet up in their section of the draw.

3. Nikolay Davydenko - Yes, the guy who usually does not show up for majors is in the people to watch conversation. The reason is look at his January performance in the warm-up tournament. Any guy who can knock out Federer and Nadal in the same tournament deserves a ton of credit and it will be interesting to see if he can give the Fed another run for his money in the quarterfinals.


Women's Draw

Well, Serena Williams is the number one woman in the world, finally. Now, she can stop complaining about Safina being number one and then focus on your game. She got dominated by Kim Clijsters in Flushing even with the tantrum she showed. Regardless, she is still the slight favorite in a wide open women's draw that includes the return of another Belgian Justine Henin. She got to the final of her 1st tournament back, and I wouldn't expect her to come back if she was not on top of her game. Elena Dementieva got a huge load off of her back by beating Serena Williams in the final up in Sydney. Once again, she comes into a major red hot but can she finish it in Majors ? Dementieva vs. Henin in round 2 could be one of the best matchups of the tournament at least in the early rounds. Also, the possibility of a Henin-Clijsters quarterfinal could possibly bring another classic from their final at Brisbane.

Prediction: Right now, I think Serena Williams will end up prevailing, but don't be surprised if Wozniacki is hoisting the women's championship trophy.

Some women who can make a deep run:

1. Caroline Wozniacki - The Dane has put up some deep runs over the past few months, including a Finals appearance in the US Open. She has the all-around game to beat the Williams sisters and she gave Clijsters a run for her money in that final. She has a solid all-around game and she will be a force in the women's game, especially in this tournament on the hard courts.

2. Maria Sharapova - I think this is the tournament where she makes a deep run. This is the tournament she does the best in and she is in a favorable draw with Safina and Jankovic who are both inconsistent players.

Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:21 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Mafioso

I think you should give up on him because this guy is wasting the talent that he has. True, part of tennis is god-given talent, but you also have to work really hard to get to the top like Federer and Nadal have. If Gulbis continues to slide, he will end up having to play a Federer or a Nadal in round 1 of majors and he just can't progress that way. If I could talk to him, I would tell him to work harder because without it, you do not have a successful future in this game.

Don't blame yourself for the pick though. We all get picks wrong. I had Sharapova as a sleeper and look what happened to her in the 1st round. Check out my daily breakdown and preview in the Australian Open thread. I try to do one each day if I can.

Enjoy the Tennis !




Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: January 19, 2010 11:21 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Ha, well my sleeper pick of Gulbis looks pretty awful right now. I am about ready to give up on him ever reaching up to his potential. What happened to that kid I saw at the U.S. Open a couple years ago???



Since: Jun 15, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2010 8:06 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

I have Serena & Andy...Roddick. Here's how-

Men-
R16 & 1/4
Fed over Hewitt- 4
Davydenko over Verdasco- 5

Fed over Davydenko-3
Federer still has the edge mentally because Nikolai is mentally weaker than most as he gets deeeper into majors. That won't stop here.

Djoker (I type this b/c it is still shorter than his full name) over Gasquet- 4
It will be a good test for Novak, but Richard is still getting his feet under him from his layoff.
Haas over Soderling- 4
Tommy is just too consistent and has too much variety for Robin.

Djoker over Haas- 5*
This could be one of the matches over the tournament. I think Novak's fitness will be the test, if he has improved he will win this.

Roddick over Gonzales- 4
Roddick's game has improved enough to make this happen.
Del Potro over Cilic- 5
Delpo has more variety & the confidence from winning in NY.

Roddick over DelPo- 5
Roddick will be able to take advantage of DelPo's fatigue from previous match beating him in this best of 5.

Murray over Monfils- 4
Andy Murray, though mentally frail at times, still has too much game & experience for Gael.
Rafa over Karlovic- 3
I would be surprised if Ivo got a set off of him.

Murray over Rafa- 4
Faster court still favors Andy Murray. Rafa's body can still be a liability b/c of how he plays and will wear faster on this harder court.

Semis-
Djoker over Federer- 4
Djoker ended the season better than Roger and doesnt have his same distractions. Novak will have the benefit of confiodences from tighter matches int he earlier rounds.
*If Haas wins that quarter, Federer wins here and the tournament.

Roddick over Murray- 4
Just like Wimbledon last year, Roddick will outmanuever and power Murray. Faster court hurts Murray here.

Without Federer, since Roddick has beaten Novak the last several times they've played, Andy will win this.




Women's-
R16 & 1/4:
Serena over Stosur-2
Zvonareva over Azarenka-3
Vera is just the better player but will lose to Serena in 2

Wozniacki over Hantuchova- 2
Schiavone over Venus-3
Venus, sadly, is on her decline and Wozniacki has confidence from her USO final last year.

Wozniacki over Schiavone-2

Henin(yes she will beat Elena Dementieva in R2. What a match for the early rounds!) over Wickmayer-2
Henin has TOO much experience to lose this one.
Clijsters over Kuznetsova- 2
Kim is just the better player


Clijsters over Henin-3
Kim's confidence from her win in NY will propel her past Justine in this slam.


Jankovic over Bartoli-3
Sharapova over Safina (if Dinara makes it that far)- 2

Sharapova over Jankovic-2
Sharapova has been here more times than Jelena and that experience will keep her clamer in the bigger moments.

Semis-

Serena easily in 2, Wozniacki isnt as good as Kim (as proven in the USO final) and Serena wants it so much.
Clijsters over Sharapova-3, Kim is a better player w/ more variety & better serve and defensive game.


Final-
Serena will avenge being dominated in New York and pull this out in 3 over Kim. I think Serena has only lost twice in major finals (Venus in '01 & Maria in '04). She is a better player now than she was in both of those losses.


OK, now for everyone to tell me I am wrong! Sealed









Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2010 4:07 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions


I like the idea of Cilic winning. I have him in my semifinal round defeating Roddick in the QF's, but I think he goes down to Nadal in the semifinals. I have Nadal still winning the Aussie Open. I know people find that pick crazy but I wonder about the knees of Nadal. He still made the semifinals in Flushing with the bad knees and keep this in mind, earlier this month Nadal made the final in the warm-up tournament and was taken out by Davydenko in 3 sets, so I think the knees are fine for Rafa.

Early possible upset: Sam Querrey over Andy Roddick in Round 3. Roddick struggles against his American counterparts in recent years and I think Querrey, who has handled the top guns very well since joining the ATP Tour, although Querrey has a tough matchup against Feliciano Lopez in Round 2 if both make it there.

On the women's side, I like Caroline Wozniacki to win this one. She proved her game at the US Open in August and is up to number 4 in the world. She would have to take out both Williams' sisters but I think she has the game to do that and she will play Maria Sharapoa in the final. Maria's draw is easier for her as she has Safina and Jankovic in her draw, two inconsistent players. I think she plays the winner of Henin/Clijsters in the semifnals which would be a tough match for her but I think the serve will be fine for her this time around.

Sleeper: Melanie Oudin - If she can defeat Radwanska, the 10 seed in Round 2, she has a chance to take on Venus if both make it to the Round of 16. I think the draw sets up in her favor even though she has a tough round 1 matchup. I think she has the game, the determination, and the mental mindset to do well in this tournament.

Let's get it going ! 7 EST on ESPN2 with Sharapova, Blake, Roddick, and then Nadal in the 3 AM slot.



Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2010 12:47 am
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Totally agree Bk, but I think that's what make this tournament great. Its the prediction factor. I like the sleeper stories and a lot of the guys could be them, like Sam Querrey who I keep bringing up, but he has a tough draw



Since: Mar 1, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2010 12:09 am
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

The bad thing about the Aussie Open is that is not a real indicator of the rest of the season since it's so damn early in the season. There's always a few sleepers here who make a deep run for whatever reason but can't keep the play for the rest of the season.



Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2010 8:03 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Wow,

I am impressed with your tennis knowledge. Monfils can definitely take out Murray but if its a 5 setter will the legs of Monfils hold up. Gasquet has played well of late, but has only been in one slam since coming off the suspension for the cocaine incident. Yes, Murray has struggled in slams outside of Wimbledon, but I think he will strive under the fact he will no longer have as much pressure on him since his ranking dropped from number two to number five.

Again, I just can't see Novak winning this tournament. He has problems with the heat in Australia and that will be a huge factor in this major. Plus, i don't see him taking out a top gun in Federer or Nadal if he gets into the later stages of this slam which by the draw I say he makes the semifinals and loses to Roger Federer.

I don't think Roddick will win either, you are right he has the injury which has been a problem since Wimbledon. He is in a difficult half of the draw and I could honestly see Sam Querrey beating him in the 3rd round if they get there. I am a huge beliver in Querrey who played well last season and I think he has foinally found out what it takes to win on the Grand Slam level. I won't predict it, but I would not be surprised to see it. Plus, his confidence has to be shaken a little bit. Losing the tough 5 setter to Roddick and then seeing his serve get broken by Isner in the 5th set in Flushing has got to hurt some of his psyche.

Verdasco is going to have some success in this tournament because he has proven to be a problem for the big guns and I think he has the belief and the game to go far and upset one of the top guns. Plus, I do not see Gulbis going far. Although the potential is there, he is wasting it and if he continues to do that, you are going to see him get guys like Federer and Murray in early rounds, which will halt his progression.

Again, excellent breakdown. How about some analysis of the women's side especially since its wide open.



Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2010 7:31 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

The thing that always makes the Australian Open interesting is there is always a dark horse that emerges, but good look trying to find that person. Players are still not in the rhythm this early in the season, and inevitably there will be upsets. Here are a few things I wouldn't be surprised to see:
  • Gulbis makes a run- This is a guy that doesn't get out of bed for the small tournaments but always kicks it up a notch when it comes to the Slams. As well as Davydenko is playing, I can see him falling to Gulbis if Gulbis is firing on all cylinders. From there he could expect to see Verdasco, which would be a tough matchup considering Verdasco could definitely take the Latvian in a marathon. If Gulbis is bombing the serves in and has that big forehand of his on target, he won't have to play a marathon. In the spirirt of underdogs, I'll take Gulbis. Of course, Fed takes the quarter.
  • I agree with the assessment of Cilic. He's due to get to the semis of a Slam eventually, and why not now when Del Potro has had issues with his wrist? I actually was thinking of Wawrinka making a run; I love watching him play with that backhand and loved him at the U.S. Open a few years back when he won five setter after five setter. He definitely can come up big on the grandest of stages, and I think a match between he and Cilic has the makings of a great one. I don't see Roddick making it through. He's still coming off of injury, and while he has put in the work to get back on court, he still did not have the rigorous training schedule that makes him such a threat in this torunament.
  • Bottom quarter has some really great potential matches. I can see Nadal and Stepanek having a terrific match, and there is certainly no love between these two players. As much as I think Stepanek has a chance, I have to give it to Nadal due to his heart. I see Monfils taking down Murray if he is healthy (big if). Murray just can't cut it day in and day out in the Slams, but I would love to see these two guys go toe to toe with each other and be truly entertained.
To pick a winner...gosh, I don't feel very good about this pick considering his pummeling at the hands of Verdasco, but I am going with Djokovic. He's won it before, and I think he was finally starting to round into better form and finding his comfort zone after switching his racquet at the beginning of 2009. I don't really see too many huge obstacles on his side of the draw. He gets the weakest seed possible in the third round in Chardy, and I'm not particularly frightened by the likes of Robredo, Youzhny, or Gasquet. The bottom half of that quarter is definitely the more dangerous one, so he's lucky to have dodged some of those harder matches. I like him to topple Tsonga in the quarters. Anything goes though, especially at this tournament, so I'm looking forward to watching as much as my schedule allows me to.



Since: Dec 2, 2006
Posted on: January 16, 2010 5:14 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

The knees I think are okay but you might be right. He did play well in the previous tournament and if not for a tough tiebreak against Davydenko would win that tournament and give himself some confidence. Del Potro has some wrist issues from what I have heard which is why I am hesitant on picking him to win this Aussie Open, but he is definitely a favorite.

Novak as well has faded in some big matches and will the heat get to him like he did last Australian Open. Gonzo is in the tough section of Del Potro's draw quarter and I think whoever gets out of that could face a difficult task in the semis. Djokovic would get Federer in the semifinals and after beating Fed two years ago, he has not fared well in majors against him since. Keep an eye on Andy Murray. He is down to number five, but there is not a lot of pressure on him to win this tournament as in previous years. He would get Nadal in the QF's, and if Nadal's knees turn out to be an issue, Murray can pull a big run to the final.

But, good points bigdog.



Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: January 16, 2010 4:07 pm
 

Australian Open Preview and Predictions

Fed would have to be my favorite, but after him I'd go with Djokovic and Del Potro. The biggest deal with Djok is his conditioning, and if he's in shape (mentally, as well) than he should have a great shot to at the least get to the semi's. Del Potro might be the most talented guy out there, he's in great shape, he has the confidence and would be my #2 behind Fed. Oh, oh....I'm almost talking myself into taking Del Po....okay I'm going to do it, I'm taking the Argentine!!! (But I will be rooting for Gonzo, come on Fernando!!!!) 

And for what it's worth, Nadal's knees are worse than they were before imo. It just seems to be a perfect storm of problems setting up for him in the land down under.



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