ATP Australian Open, Men’s Singles: I Got Your Final Four
The first of four Grand Slam Championships are underway in Australia. Broadcaster Dick Enberg called this the most competitive men’s draw in Australian Open history.
Will Rafael Nadal make a run to win it all and reclaim his number one world ranking, or can Roger Federer continue to dominate men’s tennis? Which one of the lesser known men has a shot to put his name on the tennis map early in the 2010 season?
Do you think you have the answers? Well so do I, let’s see how we compare as I serve it up in the great down under.
Is It Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood?
No. 1 seed Roger Federer, who is a three time champion of this event struggled in his opening round match but none the less prevailed with a win. Federer finished last years Aussie open runner up to then No. 1 ranked Nadal in a tough five set marathon.
Nadal, currently the No. 2 seed in this tournament looks to bounce back from an injury riddle end of ’09.
The match ups between Federer and Nadal has become the most heated rivalry in tennis. It is comparable to John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors or Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
I thought that the speedy Spaniard was going to take over the rivalry after beating Federer on his home court, the Wimbledon grass in ’08 and winning the Australian last year.
Federer proved me and many others wrong by winning the next two Grand Slam finals including defeating Nadal on his favorite surface clay. Those two titles pushed him ahead of Sampras for most career Grand Slam titles.
A loss in the U.S. Open final, combined with getting married, having a baby, and claiming the coveted career slams record leaves people questioning whether or not Federer can still be a force.
Federer’s Quarter Draw
In Federer’s quarter of the draw his biggest threat is the No. 6 seed Russian Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko has never made it past the quarter finals in this event and never played farther than the semi finals in any major event.
The No. 22 seed is the hometown country favorite Lleyton Hewitt. The Aussie’s would love nothing more than to see Hewitt hoist the trophy. Hewitt’s best finish in this open event is runner up in ’05.
One of the unranked players from this quarter of the draw for us to keep our eyes on is Marcos Baghdatis. Baghdatis played himself into the fourth round of this tournament last year and I feel like his game gives some of the more notable players a challenge.
The Cinderella of this quarter draw could be American lefty Donald Young. Young who has been a highly ranked junior won his first round match and now looks to butt heads with Australia’s own Lleyton Hewitt.
Ultimately when this draw is done I believe that Federer will be representing this section of the draw in the semi finals.
Djokovic’s Quarter Draw
The No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic is top a flight competitor and one of the most entertaining personalities in the game. Djokovic claimed his only slam title in this open event in ’08 beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The tournaments No. 8 seed Robin Soderling looks to carry on the momentum he created last year after making it to the U.S. Open quarter finals. Soderling has never made to the third round of this event and I don’t see him playing much of factor in this quarter of the draw.
Former runner up of this event No. 10 seed Tsonga is the guy I like to make a lot of noise in this quarter of the draw.
The No. 20 seed Mikhail Youzhny and No. 18 seed Tommy Haas are two guys that can really get it rolling when their playing good tennis. If the draw shakes up right these two men could play a factor in this quarter of the draw.
Djokovic is the best player from this quarter and he is the man I expect to represent this quarter in the semis.
Del Potro’s Quarter Draw
No. 4 seed Juan Martin Del Potro arrived on the scene in big way last year making it two the quarters or better in three of the four slam events. Del Potro looks to continue to ride high off his ’09 U.S. Open victory over Federer to end last season.
No. 7 seed Andy Roddick is Del Potro’s biggest threat from this quarter of the draw. Roddick has enjoyed success in this event mainly odd years and looks to break that pattern this year.
The No. 14 seed Marin Cilic could make his big serve and lanky frame a factor in this quarter.
No. 19 seed Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez are two guys from this quarter of the draw that could cause some upsets.
I am going to go out on limb and call United States hopeful Andy Roddick the victor of this quarter of the draw.
Nadal’s Quarter Draw
Nadal’s quarter of the draw is the most interesting to me because there are four men I think could make a run to semi finals.
The No. 5 seed young stud Andy Murray posses a great threat for Nadal to make a run to the semis. Although this is the slam final that Murray has enjoyed the least amount of success he is on the verge of maxing out his potential.
No. 12 seed Gael Monfils is just starting to hit his stride on the tour and I believe will be a solid competitor for years to come. Last year he made it to the 4th round or better in all three of the slams he entered.
No. 13 seed Radek Stepanek is one of the older players in the mix but has the tools to make a run. Stepanek is on the back side of his career and is at that now or never situation which I believe propels men at the end of their careers.
Including Nadal I named four men who I believe could make a run at this quarter of the draw and didn’t even mention big man John Isner or Ivan Ljubicic. Nadal is my favorite to come out of this section but it will be highly contested in this quarter.
The Big Four
The way I see the semis lining up is Djokovic vs. Federer and Roddick vs. Nadal. This would be a dream final four based on the names alone and bring some much needed attention to the game of tennis.
Djokovic and Federer is always a great battle with flawless ground strokes, precise servers, and great return games. I project that Federer loses this match in a close four sets and the tennis community continues talking about Federer being finished as the front runner.
I tend to favor Roddick in almost all of his matches and that because he is my favorite player. In a match between Nadal and Roddick, I feel that Nadal wins fairly easily in three sets. If Nadal’s body continues to give him problems then Roddick could be playing for his second slam title.
My finals projection is Djokovic against Nadal. I look for this to be the newest rivalry in slam semi and final events. Both of these men bring a tremendous amount of energy and passion every time out on the court. Plus mix in a ton of talent and we are in for a show.
However it breaks down this year in Australia it’s going to be jaw dropping action. My prognosticated winner for the slam down under is Rafael Nadal.