Australian Open Preview: Federer Looking Good
Picking Roger Federer to win a Grand Slam is not exactly going out on a limb, but that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, who else is there to pick?
For my money, it’s Fed’s title. No surprise, really. Though, outside of the French the Australian Open has been the toughest of the three remaining Slams for him to win. Remember, last year he needed a five-setter over Tommy Haas and two tough four-setters over Nikolay Davydenko and Marcos Bagdhatis. And they year prior Marat took him down in the semifinals.
So if you’re a non-clay kinda guy looking to grab a Slam crown this year this event might give you your best chance at cracking Fed. But you have to be fit and ready for the heat.
Looking at Fed’s draw, a rematch with Baghdatis looms in the quarters. Fed also faces a few obstacles in Mikhail Youzhny in the 3rd RD and the semi-cocky Novak Djokovic in the 16s. And if not Baggy in the QFs he could get Richard Gasquet. But I’ll stick with Baggy who I think will beat Gasquet and then Mr. Excitement, Tommy Robredo, to reach the 16s.
I read on ESPN.com how apparently Andy Roddick has narrowed the gap on Roger Federer and will now win the Australian Open. Really? When the hell did that happen? Last I checked Fed was 12-1 on the Andy so care to explain this “narrowing”? Oh yeah, Andy had their last match in hand with three match points against Roger in Shanghai, that is until Roger decided to win it.
Let’s remind ourselves that the last title Andy won was in Cincinnati, which he only won because Danny Bracialli laid an egg in first round against Roddick.
Andy did catch fire after that Bracciali choke job – give him credit – by following with the Cincy title and then the Open final, but he then suffered losses to Safin, Tursunov, Berdych, Gonzalez, Nalbandian and of course Federer to end the year. And i think he lone career Grand Slam top 10 win is still Juan Carlos Ferrero in that 2003 US Open final.
So why all the media admiration? Well, he reached the Open final and he held three MPs against Roger, so he must back! Plus, he’s with Connors now and he worked harder than ever in the off season, so she says at least.
(If there’s one thing I hate about the off season it’s reading about how hard players have trained during it. Have you ever read a quote where a player said of his off season regimen, “Nah, I just sat on the couch pounding pop tarts”? I haven’t, but it’s happened, and no player is ever going to say it. So of course when asked players for the most part are going to say, “Yeah, I trained like crazy. I’m in peak shape feeling great and I’m excited about the New Year.”)
If he is to go deep in Oz, Roddick will have to beat Marat Safin in the third round, Ancic in the fourth and then Ljubucic in the QF. Frankly, I like Safin who always seems to play well in Australia. Sorry, PMac, I get that your are trying to ignite Andy’s confidence but I don’t think your Boy is even going to meet Mr. Federer. I’ll take big Marat, instead.
Now to the bottom half, which begins with a third quarter filled with a bunch of fellas who say they are injured or really are injured. David Nalbandian has a bad knee, Nikolay Davydenko has a bad foot to go along with a bad attitude (don’t look for him getting the key to Sydney anytime soon), and Dmitry Tursunov is fighting a bad wrist.
If Nalbandian plays, which I think he will, he should get through Tommy Haas and then maybe Xavier Malisse to reach semifinals. If he’s really hurt, then it’s anyone’s quarter. Haas would probably be the No. 2 pick, but he’s been off the radar for a while now. His buddy Malisse is hot, but do you really want to pick him into the SF of Slam based on one title in India? Same for Tomas Berdych, lots of game but still shaky upstairs. Instead, I’ll go with Robin Soderling, that is if Nalbandian is not 100%. And that is a crazy pick.
Rafael Nadal anchors the last quarter, and while he pulled with a groin injury from Sydney last week, word is the Spaniard will be fine for Melbourne. His draw looks pretty fine, also, that is up until a fourth round clash with Andy Murray, who will put an end to any hopes of Nadal claiming this title this year. The victory for Murray should set up a great quarterfinal showdown with James Blake. I’ll take Murray in five sending the American to 0-10 in five-setters. Sorry, James, but Andy’s coach, Brad Gilbert, has had some pretty good success Down Under.
I should also mention Australia’s favorite (or least favorite) son, Lleyton Hewitt who’s always in the mix. But this year I’m not buying his “I’m playing better than ever” crap. Add to that he hurt his leg and sacked his coach, so there’s seems to be plenty of problems in his camp and plenty of reasons for him not to reach the second week. Sorry, mate, will have to pass on ya, but good luck anyway.
So my semifinals to recap: Federer v. Safin; Nalbandian v. Murray with Federer beating Murray in the final. Scary, but i’ll go with it.
Sounds like a bunch of B.S.? Fair enough. I guess in a just two short weeks we’ll find out. Good on ya.
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