Hey all, the draw for Australia has landed and it's a pretty interesting one. On paper some of the top guys have it easy whilst some of the others have potential banana skins even in the first week.
With Roger's ranking at 6 he was always going to have to face some tough opponents early doors but it's not the worst draw imagineable, he's landed in Murray's Quarter but the Scot is looking pretty rusty since his surgery. My current expectation is that he makes the 4th Round without too many issues but after that it's a bit of a lottery.
Tsonga, his seeded 4th round opponent is looking sharp from what I saw in the Federer Exhibition and his performance in Abu Dhabi so he'd be a slight favourite in my book especially if his ground strokes penetrate the court.
Prior to that we could get a Wimbledon rematch against Stakhovsky in the third round which I think is nigh on guaranteed to be a Federer straight set job were it to happen. Verdasco could also be in the mixer there too, should be rekindle his 2009 form then he's a threat but if he's like the Fiasco of late then Fed has more than enough to handle him.
The second round looks most likely to be Stepanek who Roger holds a 13-2 advantage over and shouldn't cause too many problems unless the Swiss is having a terrible day at the office.
And finally onto his first match which is against young Aussie hope James Duckworth which I'd expect to be routine. I've not seen a whole lot of him but he has a fairly attacking style and I think he will try play aggressively. Roger said in his interview that Luthi watched his match in Brisbane because he played Nieminen so it looks like he knows what to expect. Can't see too many problems there.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: James Duckworth
- Round 2: Radek Stepanek
- Round 3: Fernando Verdasco / Sergiy Stakhovsky
- Round 4: Gilles Simon / Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- Quarter Final: Andy Murray / John Isner
- Semi Final: Rafael Nadal
- Final: Novak Djokovic
Can Roger Make an Impact?
I think to really make a statement Roger needs to make the semi finals but if he were to make the Quarters that'd be a platform to work his way into the season from so either of those I'll be happy. This is Roger's 57th consecutive slam which is a big achievement but he also has an Australian Open semi final streak to try maintain that he's held since 2003.
If Brisbane came to a halt after the Matosevic match I'd be pretty confident of him doing some damage here but after the Hewitt final I'm a little less upbeat about his chances. I criticised Fed pretty heavily in my last post but it just felt like another big blow to me very early in the year. I know Roger rattled off some chat about being hungry, knows where his game is at and taking the positives but fact is he lost rather badly. I don't really see how Brisbane can be a success based on how it ended.
But what's done is done and Melbourne awaits, there might be another tough loss on the horizon but the way I see it I don't think it's necessarily going to decide how the rest of the season goes. He played a great AO last year then slumped for the rest so things can change pretty quick. The main thing is he doesn't choke a match away as they're by far and away the worst to watch. Getting outplayed is far easier to digest but blowing chances cuts deep.
The good news about this tournament is that it's over 5 sets, Melbourne has been a good hunting ground for him and Edberg will be joining the team. Maybe the Swede can inject a little bit of something into his performances. It was evident from Brisbane that his game is still there just the confidence was not, I'm not sure any coach can fix that over night but he might be able to patch it up enough to piece a run together.
As for the other top guys Djokovic has the easiest route on paper with only Wawrinka or Berdych the ones who can cause him trouble. Nadal has a few tricky opponents with Tomic in the first round, Monfils potentially in the third and Del Potro in the Quarters but if anyone can find their way through it'll be him. I actually think Tomic could be the biggest danger, he played well against Nadal in 2009 and I just can't see Del Potro doing damage to Rafa on these courts. He is coming in off a good win vs. Tomic in Sydney but his record in Australia is less than stellar so I'm not resting my hopes on the Tower of Tandil as much as I like him.
Murray is an unknown at this point as he's looked sluggish since making his return from the back injury. He lost in Doha early and Hewitt beat him in Kooyong so hardly a great start to the year for him. The one thing in his favour though is the way a draw in a slam works which gives him a little bit of time to work his way into the tournament.
In terms of dark horses I think Cilic would be one to watch out for and Chardy can't be written off either especially after his performance here last year. He probably should have made the final in Brisbane had he not capitulated so I'll be keeping an on eye on him. Isner, Hanescu and Simon so I pick Bellucci are also ones who could make a little run. Can any of the younger guys make an impact? There's plenty in the draw including Thiem, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios.
Anyway enough predictions and expectations, the draw is here but it can all change all that's left is to see Fed get on court and perform; I'm not interested in hearing that he's raring to go or that he think he's a better player now than in 2004; he just has to step on Rod Laver and give it some. Allez!
What are your expectations for Roger? Can you foresee any upsets? Will we see a tweener?