The Australian Open draw has just taken place and Roger will begin his title defence against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the first round. The draw was done electronically and you can see his projected opponents below.
- Round 1: Aljaz Bedene
- Round 2: Jan-Lennard Struff
- Round 3: Richard Gasquet
- Round 4: Milos Raonic / Sam Querrey
- Quarter Final: David Goffin
- Semi Final: Sascha Zverev / Novak Djokovic
- Final: Rafael Nadal
Thoughts on the Draw
Firstly, why are tournaments trying to turn Draws into some kind of spectacle that drags on and on? 😆 They've now started doing the draws on a computer behind closed doors which I don't really like either yet they still manage to make the whole thing last over an hour. Sad!
As for the draw, I think it looks ok on paper. The only match set in stone is Bedene and that's a very nice start for Roger as the Slovenian is solid but has no weapons to do any sort of damage. Should be a routine straight sets win which is ideal if it's a day match as it means I can go back to sleep 😀
Struff is the likely second-round opponent and he has a slightly bigger game thanks to his serve. He pushed Fed to a tie-break a couple of years back in Halle but again it's hard to see him offering much resistance. Up and comer Soon-woo Kwon is Struff's first-round opponent, I've never seen him play but based on his results and the fact he won the Wild Card Playoff surely gives him a chance of coming through.
The third round has Gasquet has the seeded opponent, the Frenchman has found a bit of form in Kooyong and is dangerous on his day but Roger has the wood on him given their H2H. So it's hard to see an upset; Gasquet definitely played the right way in Shanghai by being more attacking but I think conditions here suit Roger and a 3 or 4 set win is likely.
Into Round 4 and both projected opponents are in pretty poor form. Raonic looks like he's piled on a bit of timber after being out for a few months so I don't see him lasting the course. Querrey hasn't been playing well either since the US Open so Feliciano Lopez has a good shot against him in the first round with the Spaniard currently in the Sydney Quarter Finals.
The Quarters could then see Fed up against many peoples dark horse for the tournament David Goffin. The diminutive Belgian had a great end to last season beating Roger in London and he's started 2018 nicely too with some good wins at the Hopman Cup. He'll certainly be a big test given how well he moves and strikes the ball but a quicker surface is advantage Fed. Del Potro and Berdych are the other two names that stand out in that section. Juan Martin is going along nicely in Auckland at the moment and Berdych has played well down under before so it's an interesting quarter.
Sascha Zverev is the fourth seed and should he play to that label then Roger would meet him in the semifinals. That looks unlikely as it stands as Zverev is yet to make it past the 4th Round of a Slam but given the fact he's won two Masters 1000 he's probably due a breakthrough over Best of 5. Djokovic is also in this half but there are so many question marks around the elbow to really know what his chances are.
Should Fed make the final then Nadal is obviously the top seed on the other half. He's been having knee problems so I'm not sure what to expect. He bombed vs Gasquet in an Exho but then looked to be in good form for Tie Break Tens so he's hard to assess. We'll know a lot more once the first couple of rounds have played out as to how everyone is shaping up and I think the tournament is wide open so I'm looking forward to it.
What do you guys think of the draw? Could we see a first-time slam winner to kick of 2018? Let me know in the comments.