Hey all, the Australian Open draw is here and Roger's got a reasonably tough route to the latter stages, on paper at least. I stayed up for the draw and after 40 minutes of fluff mixed with awkward interviews with Stan and Li Na the Men's draw got underway at about 11.50pm UK time last night.
Roger's landed himself in Nadal's half of the draw so could meet him in the semi finals but it's his quarter of the draw that's most interesting as he could face Murray in the Quarter Finals which would be a rematch from 2014. Dimitrov is also in this quarter and both Karlovic and Kyrgios are potential early round opponents for the Swiss. Not easy when you look at it like that but who knows if any of those matches will come to fruition.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- 1st Round: Yen-Hsun Lu
- 2nd Round: Juan Monaco / Simone Bolelli
- 3rd Round: Jeremy Chardy
- 4th Round: Tommy Robredo
- Quarter Final: Andy Murray
- Semi Final: Rafael Nadal
- Final: Novak Djokovic
Thoughts on the Draw
I'm not going to look too far into the tournament in this post but so far I'm liking Roger's draw. General opinion is that it's a nightmare or the toughest imaginable but winning slams was never meant to be easy. If you look at the projected opponents they all increase in quality round by round which is how it should be. There's also no guarantee that any of these matches will even happen. Like Fed says, he plays the draw, fans talk about it 😆
The one match we do know for certain is against Yen-Hsun Lu who is a seasoned campaigner at this level and he's made the 3rd Round in Australia on two separate occasions. Clearly no pushover and he has beaten top players before but I think ultimately he will lack the firepower to really put Roger in too much difficulty. Could be a close set or two in there but it'd be a big surprise if Roger didn't win that one in straight sets.
As for the second round it's either Monaco or Bolelli. Monaco is a weaponless pusher so Roger would surely defeat him comfortably without really having to get out of second gear; Bollelli on the other hand is a talented player who is capable of producing some top tennis on his day. Over 5 sets though his resolve and mental fortitude are questionable so even if he pushed Fed to the limit I'm not sure he could come away as the victor. I think Bollelli will come through vs. Monaco but I'd like to see the Argentine on the other side of the net so Fed can replicate his USO 4th round beatdown for our viewing pleasure.
After that your guess is as good as mine as there's a lot of decent players in this Quarter – Karlovic, Chardy, Istomin, Robredo, Kyrgios, Seppi and Kukushkin are all potential opponents in either the 3rd or 4th round. It's tough to really see who comes through in that section, Karlovic is bang in form so he could be the one to watch and Chardy historically plays well Down Under so they are my two picks.
Coming through those early tests would put Roger in the second week where Murray is a likely opponent in the Quarters. I'd pick Fed to win that all day long but I if it did happen I believe his tournament would hinge on how quickly he can put the Scot to bed. We saw at the USO where the Monfils match took Fed's legs away for the semi final against Cilic. Cilic played lights out but if you watch the highlights of that match you clearly see Fed isn't at peak movement which he would have needed to find a way through against a guy playing like Cilic.
After that we're in coin-toss territory so we'll cross that bridge if it comes to it 🙂
Elsewhere in the Draw
The other half of the draw looks somewhat easier for the top seeds but Djokovic could have to face John Isner in the fourth round; Isner has a good record vs Novak. The Serbs own record vs. big servers isn't great so it could be an early test for him. Raonic is also a potential quarter final threat to him so it will be interesting viewing if either of those guys serve clicks from the word go.
As for Stan he has quite a nice path through to the Quarter Finals in what will be his first ever defence of a slam title. Dolgopolov or Fognini could trouble him in the fourth round but the real test would be Nishikori or Ferrer in the quarter final.
Back to Roger's half of the draw and Nadal has a pretty tricky 1st round match against Mikhail Youzhny who is a difficult player to beat. Youzhny has schooled Nadal before at the US Open and he even took a set off him last year in Rome so he can clearly do some damage. Like Nadal, the Russian is low on confidence right now, coming in off a 1st round loss in Doha against Nikoloz Basilashvili. That makes the match quite interesting as both guys could be tentative I expect Nadal to prevail but if Youzhny can take on his shots without fear then he has a chance.
Should Nadal make the second week, where he's at his most dangerous in a slam, he could face Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. That match is historically a walk over for the Spaniard but can Berdych and his new coach come up with a different gameplan? Unlikely but you never know. We might also get Nadal vs. Rosol in the third round, always fun 🙂
Interesting First Round Matches
- Ward vs. Verdasco
- Del Potro vs. Janowicz
- Ferrer vs. Bellucci
- Bellucci to take out Ferrer
- Brown to take out Dimitrov
- Leonardo Mayer to make the second week
- Fiasco to rekindle some of his Aus Open 2009 form
As usual, I encourage you to gamble your house or your children's inheritance on these predictions as they are certs. But I can take no responsibility if for some strange reason they do turn out to be wrong 😆
Let me know what you think of the draw in the comments.