Roger Federer – along with the rest of the top seeds – breezed in the opening round Monday and Tuesday at the Australian Open. Federer pounded a hapless Lukas Lacko. Rafael Nadal didn’t break a sweat against the gimp Marcos Daniel. Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and even Fernando Verdasco breezed in their respective openers.
With the start of the second round, things figure to get more competitive. Or maybe they won’t.
Tonight, in perhaps his first real test Federer takes on a man his has never beaten, Gilles Simon. Simon got Federer twice in 2008, taking down the Swiss in three sets at the Canadian Open and the Masters Cup. And we know Simon is playing well – the Frenchman just won Sydney.
But I think again Federer is firing hot and I’d be surprised if this turns out to be a match at all. I think Federer wins in three easy sets.
And the same for Roddick who takes on Igor Kunitsyn. Roddick’s won their two meetings and tonight I expect maybe one close set before Roddick pulls away.
Djokovic looked scary good as well on Monday and if he plays like that he could be a real factor come that final weekend. His path today takes him through Ivan Dodig. It shouldn’t be much of an obstacle for the Serb against this Croat.
Fortunately Wednesday, there are some matches which could surprise. While I’ll take Verdasco over Janko Tipsarevic, I think Janko could easily pull off the upset in this 50/50 match. And watch out for Phil Kohlschreiber against Tomas Berdych. Phil beat Roddick a few years ago in Melbourne and he could do it again to Berdych. That said, I think Berdych has regained some form this year and I like him to get through the German here.
About the only upset we did see in the first round (sorry, I cannot count Querrey or Gulbis) was the shock loss of Nikolay Davydenko to Florian Mayer. Davydenko’s dismissal is a boon for Verdasco and also Djokovic who had a good draw even with the Russian!
Overall, it was a very straight forward first round. We did get a lot of five setters and many comebacks. JW Tsonga got up off the mat this morning to beat the snakebit Phillip Petzschner. Tsonga’s countryman Gael Monfils did the same to Thiemo de Bakker who will be known for the choke of the tournament. And early this morning David Nalbandian toughed out Lleyton Hewitt in a near-five hour epic.
We also saw a flurry of new faces make an early mark. Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Richard Berankis (plays Nalbandian next) and Grigor Dmitrov were victorious in their first round matches offering perhaps a glimpse of the future top on the ATP. In what could be a great match, Dmitrov plays Wawrinka today.
And it’s great to see Juan Martin Del Potro winning a Slam match. Thursday, I think he goes down to Marcos Baghdatis but he showed some good signs of life against Dudi Sela yesterday. It’s going to be a long road back for the Argetine. But it’s one big step at a time.
WEDNESDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Justine Henin (BEL) v. Elena Baltacha (GBR)
Andy Roddick (USA) v. Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
Venus Williams (USA) v. Sandra Zahlavova (CZE)
Rod Laver Arena 7:00 PM Start Time
Jelena Dokic (AUS) v. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
Gilles Simon (FRA) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
Hisense Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v. Vania King (USA)
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Virginie Razzano (FRA) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Ivan Dodig (CRO) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Margaret Court Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Tomas Berdych (CZE) v. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Rebecca Marino (CAN) v. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Na Li (CHN) v. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS)
Not Before:7:00 PM
Frederico Gil (POR) v. Gael Monfils (FRA)
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Djokovic, Roddick, Nadal Could be Tested Friday; Wozniacki Hits No. 1