Hey guys, the Australian Open Draw for 2017 has landed and from Federer's perspective it's as good as it gets. You can see his projected opponents below:
- Round 1: Jurgen Melzer
- Round 2: Bjorn Fratangelo / Noah Rubin
- Round 3: Tomas Berdych
- Round 4: Kei Nishikori
- Quarter Final: Andy Murray
- Semi Final: Stan Wawrinka
- Final: Novak Djokovic
Thoughts on the Draw
Pretty much as expected for Roger who's in uncharted territory with his lowest ever seeding at a Grand Slam. Most of the talk pre-draw was whether he would face Nadal in Round 3, but they're in separate halves, and instead Berdych is his likely third round opponent.
To get there though the Swiss will have to win back to back matches against Qualifiers. Qualifying is still underway, but plenty names in the hat will offer some resistance. But based on what we saw in Perth you can't see him coming unstuck in either of the first two rounds.
The first test would be against Berdych, who has to defeat a Qualifier and probably Mahut to make Round 3. Federer took him apart last year in Melbourne, but 12 months on it's unlikely to be as easy. The Czech isn't playing his best tennis of late but he is still a heavy hitter and has caused Federer plenty problems throughout the years. Should they meet, I think we'll learn plenty about Federer's game, and it could be a good barometer for the rest of the season.
I would pick Federer to win but it'd be in 4 or 5. Like we saw at the Hopman Cup Fed is gifted enough to play at a high level out the blocks, it's just a matter of how he fairs against players who can take the racquet out of your hands as he'll need match toughness to find a way through those encounters.
Round 4 seedings would see him up against Nishikori, the beaten finalist from Brisbane. Kei has made the quarter-finals for the last two years in Melbourne and would be another step up from Berdych. Again this would be a difficult match but if Fed is moving at his best then he usually has too much in the locker for Nishikori who isn't winning many freebies on serve and isn't the best when under the cosh.
After that, it's Murray, Stan and Djokovic as the projected opponents but those matches are a long way off happening. Based on the draw I'm hoping he makes the second week and going further than Round 4 would be a huge added bonus.
Predictions vs. Melzer
Now qualifying is done Federer's opponent is set and it's veteran Jurgen Melzer. An ideal opponent in round 1 really as Federer has a good record against him. There is a loss against the Austrian from 2011 at the Monte Carlo Masters. I remember that match well and Fed was well below par, it was also Melzer's best ever year on tour when he broke into the Top 8. That's 6 years ago though and Melzer is somewhat of a spent force having had a few injuries. Over the last 12 months he's been plying his trade outside the top 300 so I'm picking Fed in straights.
Elsewhere in the Draw
Elsewhere in the draw, Djokovic will face former semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco in round one. Thiem and Dimitrov are also in his quarter, so he has a tough but fairly balanced draw. Nadal has a gentle enough start but could face Alexander Zverev in the third round and then Gael Monfils in the fourth round, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up.
Murray looks like to have a clear path to the Quarters with no real stand out names in his way, so he's an early favourite to make it deep into the second week. Home hope Kyrgios could face off against Stan in the fourth round, and he has a comfortable first three rounds.
Interesting First Round Matches
- Coric vs Dolgopolov
- Raonic vs Brown
- Tomic vs Bellucci
- Djokovic vs Verdasco
- Baghdatis vs Youzhny
- Haas vs Paire
Anyway as for Federer I'm relatively optimistic as 17 is my favourite number 😉 and Sampras won the US Open with that seeding. But what do you guys think of his chances and the draw? And finally what courts do you think he will play on in the opening rounds? Let me know in the comments.