So it's finally here, the draw for the 2013 Australian Open and to be honest there are no surprises as Federer and Murray landed in the same half of the draw.
I guess the prospect of a Djokovic vs. Murray final was too much for Tennis Australia to pass up seen as though it's the supposedly the hottest rivalry in the game right now.
That makes it tough for Roger should he make it as it likely means he'd have to beat Murray and Djokovic back to back to win the title.
The saving grace is that Juan Martin Del Potro landed in Murray's quarter and on paper that's the most exciting quarter final match up.
Of course both guys have to make it that far for it to happen and Del Potro can be pretty unpredictable (as can Murray too) so that's not a cert.
Federer vs. Benoite Paire in Round 1
In round 1 Roger faces young Frenchman Benoit Paire. That should be a routine victory considering Roger dispatched him comfortably in Basel last year 6-2 6-2 depsite not playing anywhere near his best.
I imagine Roger will be rusty having not played a competitive match since his World Tour Finals loss to Djokovic but I don't think Paire will cause him many problems. I expect straight sets and nothing less.
Roger's Projected Route to the Final – Pretty Tough
Paire > Davydenko > Tomic > Raonic > Tsonga > Murray > Djokovic
If Roger beats Paire which he should then it's likely he'll face Davydenko who has to get by a qualifier in his first round match. Davydenko is an enigma these days so he could quite easily lose or go five sets knowing the way he plays.
In a repeat of his 4th round tie last year the Roger's 3rd match could be against Bernard Tomic who's started the season off well in the Hopman Cup and by making the final in Sydney earlier today.
Raonic is the projected opponent in the 4th round although he's had a poor start to the year so he's not certain to make it. Philipp Kohlschreiber is also in the mix as a potential fourth round opponent, a guy I tipped to have a good tournament and he made the final in New Zealand today so he's finding form when it matters.
The quarter finals is where it potentially gets tough with Roger likely to meet Tsonga, Murray and then Djokovic to win the title. I'm not worried about Tsonga as he's carrying an injury and I feel like Roger still has a slight edge over Murray. The toughest thing about the draw is beating those guys back to back before a final with Djokovic (who has a very easy draw).
One thing to remember though is draws never go according exactly to seedings so we're bound to see different matches to the ones projected above. The main thing we needed to know was that Roger is in the same half as Murray. Yes that makes it tough but it's still only a matchup on paper and tough draws aren't always a bad thing.
Other Notable First Round Matchups
We don't know who's qualified just yet but there's some pretty interesting first round match ups already in place with Hewitt vs. Tipsarevic a tasty one for the home fans. Hewitt could actually win that which in terms of seeding would be a huge upset.
Young Belgian David Goffin will play Fernando Verdasco which could be an entertaining encounter. I thought Verdasco might perform well this year at the Australian Open but Goffin is definitely no push over making the 4th round at last years French Open. If Verdasco makes his usual high unforced error count he could well lose; which would be a huge scalp for the young Belgian.
Then we have Monfils vs. Dolgopolov, Monfils is on his way back from injury so I'm sure will be eager to prove a point. Dolgo is unpredictable but I'm sure he won a few fans in Australia last year when he played that 5 setter with Tomic and this is another type of match that could well go the distance.
Murray vs. Haase could be interesting too if Haase goes for the gung ho approach he took at the US Open against Murray a couple of years back when he won the first 2 sets before crumbling mentally. He's not playing well though so he will have to up his game to even trouble last years US Open champ.
Projected Quarter Final Matchups
According to seedings these are the projected Quarter Finals, I'm doubtful all those will come off but here they are anyway:
- Djokovic vs. Berdych
- Ferrer vs. Tipsarevic
- Del Potro vs. Murray
- Tsonga vs. Federer
Full Australian Open Draw (click to open)
Ryan Harrison (USA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Qualifier v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v 31-Radek Stepanek (CZE)
20-Sam Querrey (USA) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Brian Baker (USA)
Tobias Kamke (GER) v Flavio Cipolla (ITA)
Qualifier v 15-Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
11-Juan Monaco (ARG) v Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Xavier Malisse (BEL) v Pablo Andujar (ESP)
David Goffin (BEL) v 22-Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
26-Jurgen Melzer (AUT) v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Qualifier v Guillaume Rufin (FRA)
Michael Russell (USA) v 5-Tomas Berdych (CZE)
4-David Ferrer (ESP) v Olivier Rochus (BEL)
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) v Qualifier
John Millman (AUS) v Tatsuma Ito (JPN)
Albert Ramos (ESP) v 28-Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
23-Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) v Adrian Ungur (ROM)
Qualifier v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)
Victor Hanescu (ROM) v 16-Kei Nishikori (JPN)
10-Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v Qualifier
Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) v Lukasz Kubot (POL)
Bjorn Phau (GER) v Somdev Devvarman (IND)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) v 24-Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
32-Julien Benneteau (FRA) v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) v Qualifier
Lukas Lacko (SVK) v Gilles Muller (LUX)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v 8-Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
6-Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v Qualifier
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) v Benjamin Becker (GER)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) v Qualifier
Grega Zemlja (SLO) v 30-Marcel Granollers (ESP)
21-Andreas Seppi (ITA) v Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Igor Sijsling (NED) v Denis Istomin (UZB)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) v Qualifier
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v 12-Marin Cilic (CRO)
14-Gilles Simon (FRA) v Filippo Volandri (ITA)
Tommy Robredo (ESP) v Jesse Levine (CAN)
Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) v Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP)
Gael Monfils (FRA) v 18-Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
25-Florian Mayer (GER) v Rhyne Williams (USA)
Qualifier v Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Joao Sousa (POR) v John-Patrick Smith (AUS)
Robin Haase (NED) v 3-Andy Murray (GBR)
7-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Michael Llodra (FRA)
Go Soeda (JPN) v Luke Saville (AUS)
James Duckworth (AUS) v Benjamin Mitchell (AUS)
Blaz Kavcic (SLO) v 29-Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
19-Tommy Haas (GER) v Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
Ivan Dodig (CRO) v Wu Di (CHN)
Josselin Ouanna (FRA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Albert Montanes (ESP) v 9-Richard Gasquet (FRA)
13-Milos Raonic (CAN) v Jan Hajek (CZE)
Qualifier v Lukas Rosol (CZE)
Qualifier v Guido Pella (ARG)
Steve Darcis (BEL) v 17-Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
27-Martin Klizan (SVK) v Qualifier
Bernard Tomic (AUS) v Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
Qualifier v Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Benoit Paire (FRA) v 2-Roger Federer (SUI)
I'm hearing that the weather is extremely warm in Melbourne this year so that could effect some players who aren't used to the heat. Roger has been training in Dubai so I think he can handle it no problem but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how some of the younger guys cope should they play in the afternoon heat.
I'm still sticking with my prediction that Djokovic is the favourite for the title, and that's almost been reinforced now he has a simple route to the final. Mathieu might be able to cause him a few problems in his first match but after that I can see him coasting through the draw.
That's all there is too it really, we know the first round matches and that's as far as it goes for now. I'm looking forward to seeing Federer back on court for the first time in what feels like forever and it looks set be a great tournament.
I'm sure there will be some big surprises along the way too and no doubt some nervous moments for Federer fans but if he's able to play his way into the tournament and then click into gear in the second week then I figure he has a good chance of making the final. What do you guys think?