Tag Archive | "Australian Open"

Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal

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Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal


img_1180_rnIn the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, defending champion and world number two, Rafael Nadal, prematurely set down his racket due to the sudden onset of a knee injury.  For several seasons, the 23 year old has been afflicted with one form of physical ailment or another.  After an extraordinary victory in 2008, last June, Nadal was unable to defend his title at Wimbledon due to tendonitis.  As an individual who has exhibited exemplary conduct both on and off the court, there’s a noticeable void when a player of Nadal’s caliber is absent.  Here are a few reasons why the game is better with Nadal.

With Andy Murray dominating from the very first stroke and only three games from a straight sets victory, there was little suspense as to the outcome of the quarterfinals. Still, with the Spaniard, there is often a sliver of hope for a comeback.  One of Nadal’s most admirable attribute is his inherent belief, regardless of the score, that he is not vanquished until the last ball is struck.  In Nadal’s psyche, there’s invariably that one shot which sparks the turning point in the match.  It’s hard to bet against a man who last year in Australia after a thrilling five hour and 20 minute, five set semifinal defeated Roger Federer after another five setter with less than 24 hour turnaround.

If one were to browse the dictionary for the definition of driven or relentless, it would not be shocking to discover a photograph of Nadal.  Whether in practice or in match situation, Nadal gives 1000% effort, a reflection of his perfectionist personality. There’s an ATP commercial which describes tennis players as “gladiators” on the pitch; perhaps no person epitomizes that description better than Nadal.  Each time he steps on the court it seems a duel to the death.

While Nadal’s all-encompassing dedication is laudable, the intense manner he approaches the game has taken a toll on his body.  Bouts of tendonitis in both knees have hampered Nadal’s movement.  With the nature of his game, it’s inevitable that these structures will be under recurrent stress. Therefore, even for an athlete as talented as Nadal, it becomes impossible to compensate.  One option could be for him to go on a lengthy sabbatical since resting is crucial for healing.  The down side would be that his ranking would suffer. Sometimes, one wishes Nadal could trade in his knees for new ones every so many miles as he does his tennis shoes.

The injuries are unfortunate because over the years Nadal has grown as a player.  He has incorporated different shots which have helped him succeed on surfaces other than clay.  In some respects, Nadal’s resume is more well-rounded and accomplished than Federer’s.  Nadal’s first major was at age 18 while Federer’s came at age 21.The Spaniard has an Olympic gold medal in singles and a couple of Davis Cup titles.  On the contrary, there’s been a sporadic commitment by the Swiss to the Davis Cup.

In an era dominated by Federer, Nadal’s most significant contribution is proving that there are many ways to triumph.  These two players have contrasting styles as well as differences in other areas.  Nadal is a lefty, Federer a righty. The former plays two handed on the backhand wing while the latter has a one handed stroke.  Federer moves as a quasi ballet dancer on court, Nadal more like a football player. But, there is common ground in that they are both passionate about their sport.

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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam

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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam


img_9587_rsAfter the semifinals whereby Robin Soderling swiftly bounced second seed Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny eliminated top seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets; there was great hope for a sensational final at the ATP 500 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.  Lamentably, the match ended with Youzhny bowing out due to hip injury.  Thereby, Soderling prevailed 6-4, 2-0.

After a dream 2009 season, Soderling had a nightmarish commencement to 2010.  Prior to this week, with first round defeats in Chennai and Melbourne, the Swede had yet to record a victory on the ATP tour.  Soderling’s faith was tested the first game.  After opening with an ace, Robin made scores of errors leading to Mikhail breaking.  However, with an overhead winner, Soderling had a chance to get on the board.  The Swede did so when a 25 shot rally terminated with the Russian’s forehand finding the bottom of the net. Soderling then carried his next game at love for 2-1.  With a forehand up the line winner, Soderling had his second break opportunity.  Robin converted when Mikhail double faulted.

The primary indication of a Youzhny injury came before his serving at 1-4.  The Russian was treated on court.  Youzhny temporarily blocked out the problem saving a tough game for 2-4 and holding at love to force Soderling to serve for the set.  As a result of a litany of forehand miscues by Soderling, Youzhny captured the break for 4-5.  But, serving to equalize the set, Youzhny coughed up three backhand mistakes for double break point. Helped by a net court winner, Soderling bedded the first set.

After Soderling easily seized the initial game of the second set; courtesy of Youzhny’s backhand breaking down, the Swede had triple break point.  As the Russian dumped another backhand crosscourt into the net, Soderling had a 2-0 lead.  At that point, with Youzhny’s mobility severely restricted, he elected to pull the plug on the match.

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Dementieva Hangs On For Paris Trophy

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Dementieva Hangs On For Paris Trophy


logo_opengdfsuez_2010With last year’s champion, a retired Amelie Mauresmo looking on, top seed and 2009 finalist Elena Dementieva survived Lucie Safarova 6-7,6-1,6-4 in the finals of the Open GDF Suez to seize her second premier trophy of 2010 and her 16th career title.

Safarova followed a love opening service game with a break.  Then, the Czech consolidated for a 3-0 lead.  With good serves including an ace, Dementieva rescued a 0-30 game to capture her first game.  When Safarova erred with a backhand down the line, Dementieva had her initial break point.  The Russian capitalized when Safarova misfired on the forehand.  After a comfortable service game, Dementieva tied the set at 3 a piece.  Hence forth, with neither player able to manufacture a break point, the set went to a tiebreaker.  Ahead 5-4, Safarova produced a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner for the minibreak.  With awesome defense, Dementieva saved one set point.  However, on Safarova’s second attempt she succeeded with the forehand up the line winner.

In the second set, Dementieva quickly shifted the momentum.  By forcing Safarova into a backhand down the line mistake, Dementieva had double break point.  Elena converted when Lucie netted a forehand.  Subsequently, Dementieva held at love to increase her advantage to 3-0.  With Dementieva finding the range on first serves and winning the majority of second serve points, Safarova saw the second set flash by.  Through donating more errors, Safarova gave Dementieva a double break lead.  The Russian closed the set with a routine service game.

In the decisive set, Safarova found her form once again and carried the first game. Yet, to Safarova’s chagrin, Dementieva continued her high level of play.  Moreover, Elena’s vulnerability, her serve, was not cracking.  After knotting the set at 2 all with a forehand up the line winner, Dementieva pressured Safarova into three consecutive backhand mistakes to erase two game points and get to deuce.  Although Safarova salvaged that game for a 3-2 edge, it was a sign that her ship was about to leak.  Safarova’s next service game, with some great returns, Dementieva secured double break point.  When Lucie misfired on a forehand up the line, Elena banked the break for 4-3.  Then, without any trouble, Dementieva consolidated for 5-3.  After a difficult hold which included rubbing out two championship points, Safarova extended the match at 4-5. Serving for the trophy and with her ninth ace for 30-0, Dementieva faltered.  Due to three straight forehand errors, Dementieva faced a break point.  Luckily, Elena’s serve responded by forcing Lucie into an error for deuce.  Later, with a forehand volley winner, Dementieva arrived at her fourth championship point.  Elena bagged the trophy when Lucie’s backhand crosscourt failed to clear the net.

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Britain Left Wanting:  Federer Victorious In Australia

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Britain Left Wanting: Federer Victorious In Australia


img_0461Seventy four years have lapsed since a British male won a major.  Today, world number one Roger Federer prolonged the Brits’ agony by at least a few more months.  In the Australian Open final, Federer downed Andy Murray 6-3,6-4,7-6 for his fourth Aussie title and his 16th major overall.

On Federer’s serve, Murray took the first point of the match with a backhand down the winner. Then, with a backhand error by Federer, Murray got up love-30. Still, despite Andy focusing on Roger’s backhand, Federer pulled off the first game. Next, with a double fault by Murray and a backhand down the line winner, Federer arrived at triple break point. Federer capitalized with a forehand crosscourt winner for a 2-0 lead.  However,  Murray quickly recovered.  With an absurd backhand down the line winner, Murray got double break point.  Murray got on the board with a successful forehand crosscourt pass.  Feeding Federer a steady diet of backhands, Murray leveled the set. When Federer netted a backhand volley, Murray again had double break point.  Thanks to a string of aces, Federer survived three break points to keep his head in front 3-2.  After Federer captured a pressure filled game for 4-3, Murray started serve with a double fault.  At 30 all, Federer pushed Murray off the court with an acutely angled crosscourt backhand and hit a backhand down the line winner for break point.  Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Federer sealed the break for 5-3. Subsequently, with a strong service game, Federer wrapped up the set.

After a comfortable service game to open the second set, Murray faced triple break point when Federer crushed a forehand crosscourt pass for a winner. By provoking a forehand mistake by Murray, Federer seized the break for 2-1. Even though Murray applied plenty of pressure, Federer consolidated for 3-1.  With a backhand down the line winner and a double fault, Roger had two more chances to extend his lead by two breaks.  But, Murray found the brakes in time to keep the deficit to one break. Despite extricating himself from a triple break point game, Murray never managed a break point in the second set.  Moreover, Murray’s strategy of berating Federer’s backhand was failing.  At that point, Federer had converted more backhand winners than his opponent.  With an effortless game, Federer captured a two set advantage.

The third set was extremely competitive since Murray found his rhythm on the first serve.  After an easy service game to start, by being offensive, Murray earned a break point.  However, Andy wasted it when he misfired on a backhand down the line.  Later, serving at 2-3, Federer dumped a backhand stroke and forehand volley into net then sent a forehand crosscourt long for love-40.  By winning a multiple stroke volley exchange, Murray got up 4-2.  That shot brought Murray and a hibernating Australian public back to life.  Murray readily widened his lead to 5-2.  After a love hold to force Murray to serve for the set; with a forehand crosscourt return winner, Federer had break point. Murray momentarily stopped Federer with a booming serve. Unable to handle a backhand volley, Murray gave Federer another chance to get back on serve.  Roger did so when Andy’s forehand found the bottom of the net.  Ultimately, the set was settled in a tiebreaker.

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Not So Odd:  Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major

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Not So Odd: Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major


img_1710January 30, 2010

Defending champion Serena Williams’ proclivity to win the Australian Open in uneven years is well documented. Regrettably for Justine Henin, Serena decided not to stick to tradition in 2010.  In the final, Serena blocked Justine 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to claim her fifth Australian Open trophy.

Serena was under the gun from the first game. Williams dumped a forehand into the net to give Henin double break point.  But, as she has done over and over this fortnight, with good serves, Serena salvaged a four deuce game.  After holding serve, helped by the net, Henin earned another break point with a backhand return winner. Again, Serena erased the deficit with an ace.  Supreme at saving break points, Serena captured this five deuce game with an overhead winner for 2-1.  Subsequently, aided by a Henin double fault, Serena set up triple break point with a backhand crosscourt winner.  Williams capitalized when Henin’s forehand went wide. However, due to a rash of errors Williams faced double break point.  After saving one with an ace, Serena got a break when a backhand volley winner by Justine was mistakenly judged long; the point was replayed.  On the do-over, Serena consolidated for 4-1.  Later, Serena handed Justine two chances to get back on serve with a series of miscues.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Justine did just that and went on to equalize the set at 4 all.  Yet, after Serena captured her game at love, Justine donated a couple of set points with a double fault and backhand error.  When Henin’s backhand skinned the net and landed long, Williams secured the first set.

In the second set, Henin and Williams traded roles. The second game, Justine came up with a couple of great serves to obliterate double break point.  Afterwards, with a backhand winner, Justine broke Serena at love for a 2-1 edge.  Still, the very next game, Henin allowed Williams to level the set.  At 2-3, after dismissing another break point, Henin reached a great drop and flicked a forehand volley crosscourt winner for advantage point.  When Serena netted another forehand, the set was equalized at 3.  Energized, the next game, Henin manufactured a second break opportunity with a backhand volley winner and converted when Williams’ backhand traveled long.  After Henin consolidated with a love game for 5-3; she broke Serena at love to capture the set.

In the decisive set, Henin opened with a love hold.  Then, when Serena’s attempt at serve and volley failed, Henin had double break point.  Once again, Serena bombed a couple of aces to shovel herself out for 1 all.  Subsequently, as Justine’s forehand up the line sailed long, Serena arrived at double break point.  With a sinking backhand stroke, Serena caused Justine to push the backhand volley into the net, thereby obtaining the break for 2-1.  But, with three consecutive forehand errors by Williams, Henin was at triple break point.  When Henin crushed a forehand return crosscourt, the set was equalized.  Still, with another double fault by Henin and a backhand up the line winner, Serena got another break opportunity.  Serena cashed in when Justine bungled an easy backhand crosscourt.  Despite pressure from her rival, Serena stretched her lead to 4-2 with a second serve ace. Then, with a dipping backhand, Serena forced Henin into a backhand volley mistake leading to two break opportunities.  When Henin’s backhand floated long, Williams took a commanding 5-2 edge.  Serena sealed the championship with backhand crosscourt winner.

As a former world number one, hopes were high that Henin would do well upon rejoining the tour.  Nevertheless, the final of her first two tournaments including a major, even for Henin, that is tantamount to a dream.  Just four weeks after returning, Henin will be ranked in the top 40.

In the quarterfinals against Victoria Azarenka, Serena had perhaps the comeback of her career.  After being ahead 6-4, 4-0, Azarenka who played spectacularly from start to finish came out on the losing end.  This was the hint that this would be yet again Serena’s year.  Serena becomes the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2002 to successfully defend.  Williams also ties Billy Jean King with 12 majors.

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Back to Back Doubles Titles For Serena & Venus In Melbourne

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Back to Back Doubles Titles For Serena & Venus In Melbourne


australian_open_logoFor the second successive year at the Australian Open, Venus and Serena Williams toppled top doubles seed Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the finals.  With a 6-4,6-3 victory the siblings earned their fourth Aussie title.

After the Williams failed to capitalize on Serena’s forehand crosscourt winner for break point in the opening game, Black came up with two clutch volleys in a multiple deuce game to break Serena for a 3-1 lead. However, for Huber and Black, the elation was brief. Disgusted with her prior play, Serena redeemed herself with a forehand crosscourt winner and mid-court volley winner.  When Huber double faulted and committed a miscue on forehand volley, the match was back on serve.  After Venus easily held for 3 all, aided by two double faults by Black, Venus and Serena broke for 4-3. As Serena struggled with her serve, Huber and Black had three break chances to level the set.  But, as a result of service return errors, Black and Huber wasted their opportunities. After holding serve, Huber and Black resisted surrendering the set.  But, on the third set point, Black dumped a forehand into the net, bringing Serena and Venus one set away from defending their title.

With a terrific top spin lob, Serena gave her team break point to start the second set.  When Huber’s backhand volley stayed on her side of the net, team Williams secured a 1-0 edge.  Once Serena steadied her serve, the pair easily consolidated for 2-0.  Although Huber and Black remained close the rest of the way, they were unable to make any progress on the Williams’ games.  While serving to prolong the match, ahead 30-0, Huber again double faulted for 30 all. Then, Serena thumped a forehand return.  With Huber unable to dig out the volley, the Williams had break/match point.  Subsequently, with a great backhand reflex volley winner, Serena sealed the championship.  This triumph gave the Williams their 11th doubles majors trophy.

That afternoon, in the mixed doubles semifinal, Ekaterina Makarova and Jaroslav Levinsky prevailed over Flavia Pennetta and Marcelo Melo while top seed Leander Paes and Cara Black beat Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie. The winners will face off  in the finals Sunday.

In the men’s semifinal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a virtual spectator as Roger Federer assumed total control of the proceedings.  Federer defeated Tsonga 6-2,6-3,6-2 to set up a mouth watering encounter with Andy Murray.  Since Murray is one of the selected members of the exclusive club of those with a winning record versus the world’s number one, this should be a fiercely contested final.

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ATP Australian Open Early Round Rewind

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ATP Australian Open Early Round Rewind


img_0642_mcAfter one week of play, the cream of the ATP has risen to the top at the Australian Open.   Although some had a tougher road than others, eight of the top seeds are still in the hunt.  Here’s a look back at the tournament’s key moments to date.

In the first round, Igor Andreev’s forehand gave world number one Roger Federer all sorts of headache.  After stealing the first set, Andreev was just one forehand winner away from serving for a two set to one lead.  When Andreev’s shot sailed long, so did his opportunity at an upset.  Thereafter, Federer cruised through his matches.

Another difficult challenge lays ahead for Federer in the fourth round in Aussie Lleyton Hewitt who will have the support of the crowd.  Still, Federer is favored in that match.  Should Federer advance, his tasks gets more complicated since he could face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters, a man who has beaten him their last two meetings.

While Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist last year, struggled through his first round match then benefited from a retirement his last round;  Davydenko, his fourth round opponent, has been in peak form through three rounds.  If Davydenko moves on to the quarterfinals, Federer’s streak of 22 consecutive majors semifinal will be in serious jeopardy.

An astounding fatality in the first round was French Open finalist, Robin Soderling. Playing Marcel Granollers ranked 113, Soderling let a two set to none advantage evaporate.  Current U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro who has been dealing with a wrist injury also made an early exit. After defeating James Blake in a thrilling second round match, in the fourth round, Del Potro fought hard but came up short against Marin Cilic in another five setter.  Cilic who has now gotten to the quarterfinals in the last two majors will battle Andy Roddick.

Although Roddick has been pushed with each passing round, he’s had the answers.  After straight sets wins in rounds one and two, Roddick required four sets against Feliciano Lopez, then five versus Fernando Gonzalez, the Australian Open 2007 finalist and his coach’s former pupil. If Roddick aces the Cilic exam, it will be either Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray his next nemesis.

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap


img_3627_jhAfter eight days, the Australian Open field has been narrowed.  Here’s a synopsis of the early round stumbles, near misses and a crack at determining a champion.

Maria Kirilenko rocked Rod Laver Arena with a first day, first round, first match upset of 14th seed Maria Sharapova.  With a suspect serve, will and grit could not pull Sharapova through her first competitive match of the season.  Not resting on her laurels, Kirilenko progressed to the round of 16 where she received an early Easter gift from Dinara Safina.  Nine games into the first set, Safina threw in the towel because of a back injury.  As a result, Kirilenko reaches her initial major quarterfinal and will play Jie Zheng, the 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist.  Zheng ousted 11th seed Marion Bartoli in the third round, then took care of Alona Bondarenko. Now, one of these women has the opportunity to advance to her first Aussie Open semifinal.

Waiting in the wing for Kirilenko and Zheng is perhaps Justine Henin.  The 2004 Australian champion had to work tirelessly to book a quarterfinal spot.  Henin’s second round meeting with Elena Dementieva lived up to the hype with top-notch groundstrokes by both players.  Upon surviving that encounter, Henin came close to saying cheerio in the third round.  Alisa Kleybenova demanded  Henin’s best before going down in three sets.  A similar performance was required by Henin in the round of 16 with U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer proving a tough kill.  Again, Henin needed to go the distance to seal the win and a date with Nadia Petrova in the quarters.

Petrova was probably regarded as the Russian least likely to succeed at the start of the Open.  However, after dismantling U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters in the third round and ushering out French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in round four, Petrova is no doubt a formidable adversary. Therefore, if Petrova continues along the same lines, Henin may be in for a colossal surprise.

Defending champion Serena Williams has been impressive in marching to the round of 16.  Serena has yet to drop serve nor a set.  Her toughest test will be Aussie hopeful Sam Stosur in the upcoming round.  With a big serve and a win over Serena in Stanford last year, Stosur has the tools to upstage the world number one.

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney


img_8640Marcos Baghdatis got his Australian Open campaign off to a spectacular commencement.  At the Medibank International Sydney, the 2006 Australian Open finalist prevailed over Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6.

Gasquet had a jittery opening service game.  After a backhand down the line error wiped out game point, Gasquet flubbed an overhead and sent another backhand long handing Baghdatis the early break.  Marcos had no difficulty consolidating for a 2-0 lead. On many occasions, Gasquet pushed Baghdatis to deuce after the latter had game point.  However, with errant strokes, Gasquet did not get far.  The tides shifted in the sixth game when serving at 3-2 and deuce, Baghdatis botched an easy forehand after a well placed wide serve to allow Gasquet his first break point opportunity of the match.  Still, Gasquet failed to take advantage, dumping a forehand into the net.  Ultimately, Baghdatis held on for a 4-2 lead and closed out the set with an exemplary game.

With Gasquet at 30-0, the initial game of the second set was interrupted by rain.  When the Frenchman returned, he stumbled but still maintained serve.  Perhaps, calmer after the interlude, Gasquet was now tracking down dropshots that Baghdatis had poured on for winners in the first set.  As Baghdatis served at 1-2, he misconnected on a forehand up the line giving Gasquet break point.  Although Marcos forced Richard into a backhand error erasing that break point.  Unable to stick enough first serves, Baghdatis eventually double faulted donating to Gasquet the break. But, a 5-2 lead was not sufficient for Gasquet to wrap up the set.  After Baghdatis held easily at 3-5, with an excellent crosscourt pass, an unsuccessful tweener by Gasquet on a superb lob and another misfired backhand by his rival, Baghdatis had triple break point.  Baghdatis was back in the set after Gasquet netted a forehand.  Subsequently, with each player holding serve, the set went to a tiebreaker.  With a beautifully angled backhand crosscourt winner, Gasquet had a minibreak at 2-0.  Yet, with two successive double faults, Gasquet’s edge evaporated.  Thereafter, Richard folded.  Gasquet did not win a single point, permitting Baghdatis to run away with the tiebreaker and the championship.

Despite the lost, Gasquet’s game is on the right path in light of the cocaine scandal which curtailed his 2009 season.  Last week, Gasquet was a quarterfinalist in Brisbane.  Armed with a new coach, Baghdatis has been revitalized.  For the Cypriot, this is his second title in three months after a previous drought of two years.  Now, Baghdatis is hoping that he will carry this momentum to Melbourne.  After an unforgettable tussle into the wee hours in 2008, Baghdatis appears once again on a third round collision course with Lleyton Hewitt.  If his Sydney victory is any indication, Marcos appears fit for another rumble.

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw


australian_open_logoThe Australian Open draw is out.  More than any prior year, in this imprecise game of predictions, the only certainty is the uncertainty in determining a frontrunner for the trophy on both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s side.  With no one having a conspicuous edge, with few exceptions, anyone in the top ten can be regarded as a legitimate contender.  Moreover, on the women’s side, the return of some old faces with previous success at majors means that it’s is truly anybody’s title.

In the top half of the draw, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Robyn Soderling are the highest seeds respectively. Astonishingly, if the last couple of months are an accurate barometer, Davydenko is for the first time a true threat to make it all the way to the final.  After wrapping 2009 with the ATP World tour finals trophy, just  days ago, Davydenko brought down Federer and Rafael Nadal to take the title in Qatar.  However, the question remains as to whether Davydenko can translate that type of success to a best of five set tournament over two weeks. If the draw proceeds as expected, Davydenko will have a crack at Federer in the quarters and Djokovic or Soderling in the semis.

For his part, Federer has a pretty challenging road in attempting to reach the final.  In the first round, the world number one faces the ever dangerous Igor Andreev.  Subsequently, there are possible match-ups with Australian Open finalists Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in the round of 16. Other than Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist in ’09, is a potential in the quarters. So, Federer will need to be on his toes to advance beyond the quarters.

Third seed Djokovic should have a fairly unobstructed run to the quarters.  Still, Richard Gasquet who is getting back in the swing of the game may be a problem for Djokovic in the round of 16. Furthermore, on that side of the draw, majors’ finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Soderling could clash in the round of 16.  With both Tsonga and Soderling potential quarterfinal opponents for Djokovic and with both having wins over the latter, a Djokovic/Federer semifinal is in far from a foregone conclusion.

In the bottom half of the draw, for the defending champion Nadal and Andy Murray, technically, their path to a quarterfinal showdown appears uncomplicated. Yet, Radek Stepanek, a potential round of 16 encounter for Nadal, is perhaps the sole question mark.  In Murray’s case, a healthy Gael Monfils can spell trouble in the round of 16.  But, with Monfils fighting injury, Murray will not be bothered.

Last year’s semifinalist Andy Roddick has another golden opportunity to move at least to the quarterfinal despite Fernando Gonzalez seemingly in his way.  Also, with U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro fettered by a wrist injury, his progress deep into the draw is in doubt.  Del Potro is slated to see Marin Cilic in the quarters or Roddick in the semis.

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