Del Potro Debuts; Federer, Serena Hit; Nadal Unsettled; Random Australian Open Musings
by Sean Randall | January 10th, 2012
  • 63 Comments

The countdown is on. We are just five days Australia time from the start of the first Grand Slam of the tennis season, and less than three from the release of the tournament main draws. Unfortunately, injuries remain a deep concern but the good news is Roger Federer’s back is much better and even Serena Williams is practicing again.

While Federer appears to back in good spirits, Rafael Nadal, who was blown out by Gael Monfils, is still unsettled.

“I see myself capable of having a good tournament but you never know,” Nadal said to AFP. “I am happy with the level of my game, of how I am doing things and I think I am sowing seeds that will bear fruit. But maybe not in Australia.”

“Maybe not in Australia”? If not Australia, when Rafa? Indian Wells?? Clearly, Nadal is lowering expectations, as if there were any with his bad shoulder.

As for Andy Murray, he made a nice start with new coach Ivan Lendl winning Brisbane over the weekend. And with that title the English-speaking media will no doubt hype up the new partnership and his alleged new outlook. In that case I’ll reserve judgement until I see Murray/Lendl operate on the biggest of stages.

And just where has Novak Djokovic been? After roaring through some practice sets at the Abu Dhabi exo the Serb has been out of the spotlight perhaps solely focused on defending his Australian Open title. And it’s a big one and he’s got to know it. Djokovic just hasn’t been the same player since the US Open and if he fails to win in Melbourne I think that could really open the door for Nadal, Federer or someone else to dethrone him at the top spot.

If Djokovic can get back on top, then just like last year, he could catch fire and run the table once again. Confidence is huge in tennis and the player who as the most often wins.

Djokovic will of course be the top seed when the Australian draw come out Thursday night (8pm ET?). Based on seedings Novak will be placed with either Federer or Murray in his half with Nadal getting with the other.

Novak’s had success against both as has Nadal. But with Nadal ailing the obivous choice for Federer/Murray is to land Nadal’s side.

And then there’s JW Tsonga. The Frenchman continued his strong 2011 finish by impressively winning his opening event in Doha. And we know Tsonga can play well in Melbourne. Seeded 6th, Tsonga will be drawn to play one of the “Fab Four” in the quarterfinals, but who? That could very well be the determining factor in who wins the Australian Open.

Tonight in Sydney the warmups continue. Everbody’s “X-Factor”, Juan Martin Del Potro, opens his 2012 season against Lukas Kubot. If the conditions are right – not too hot, not too cold – and the draw favorable I really think Del Potro has a good shot in Melbourne. Before then he’s the top seed this week at a weak Sydney men’s field. Second-seeded John Isner is also playing tonight.

And in the women’s draw top ranked Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova continue their tug of war for No. 1. Yesterday both girls won tough three setters. Tonight, Kvitova faces Daniela Hantuchova while the Dane gets good friend Aggie Radwanska. Kvitova will overtake Wozniacki for the No. 1 ranking if she wins the title. If she doesn’t she’ll likely get it during the Australian Open.

A boat ride away in Auckland, soon-to-be Top 20 (18 months?) Ryan Harrison ousted Sam Querrey yesterday. Ryan is back on later today along with top seed David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco.

SYDNEY WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
[1] J Del Potro (ARG) vs L Kubot (POL) – ATP
M Baghdatis (CYP) vs [WC] M Ebden (AUS) – ATP
[3] V Azarenka (BLR) vs [8] M Bartoli (FRA)
Not Before 7:30 PM
D Hantuchova (SVK) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
[1] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [7] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[Q] B Reynolds (USA) vs [2] J Isner (USA) – ATP
F Fognini (ITA) vs [3] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
L Safarova (CZE) vs [4] N Li (CHN) – WTA
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) vs [5] V Troicki (SRB)
[WC] L Safarova (CZE) / V Zvonareva (RUS) vs [2] L Huber (USA) / L Raymond (USA) – WTA


Also Check Out:
Is the US Open Draw Fixed? ESPN Investigates [Video]
Andy Murray Got Drug Tested, Then Met Prince William [Video]
Azarenka, Serena, Sharapova Battle In Istanbul For No. 1 Ranking, Player Of The Year Honors
WTA Cincinnati Preview: All Eyes on Serena Williams; Venus and Clijsters Out
Serena Williams Victorious In Return At Brisbane; Andy Murray Debuts Today [Video]

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63 Comments for Del Potro Debuts; Federer, Serena Hit; Nadal Unsettled; Random Australian Open Musings

steve27 Says:

Del potro has not chance to win Australy. Maybe nex year.Less of 10%. My favourire in order. 1.Novak
2.Andy
3.Jo
4.Rafael
5.Roger

Surprises: maybe Raonic, Berdych and nothing more.
I hope we will see a great tournament, Greetings for everybody.


steve27 Says:

favourite, sorry.


Bailey Says:

My fav would for the Ao would be 1. novak 2. rafa 3. roger 4. Jo 5. Murray


Bailey Says:

excuse my bad writing


Forehand_lob Says:

On the Tennis-X messageboard, we’re running the 7th annual contest for the Australian Open. Enter and win to get bragging rights over the posters there (and some of whom leave comments on the articles too!).

http://www.tennisxforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3873


Lou Says:

I dont think so Del potro has a chance to win AO. His stats on hard court are pathetic and in front of Djokovic and Nadal, he will have to really play ominously to win AO.
The Big Four (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray) & Del Potro- Statistical Precursor to Australian Open 2012: Part 1 http://bit.ly/A1EskN


KK Myers Says:

Why isn’t the TV schedule (USA) on the Web when the Australian Open is less than a week away?

Why are they keeping fans in the dark?

Anyone have it?


mat4 Says:

Just for fun, I will predict the draw (need a little help from Jamie’s psychic, but he is not available now):

Roger and Rafa will land in the same half; JWT will land in Murray’s quarter, and Berdych in Djoko’s. Ferrer will be in Roger’s, Fish in Rafa’s.

What’s your take? Can we make a game of predicting the draw?


Ajet Says:

Stats don’t matter. If delpotro is on, everybody may be gone!


alison hodge Says:

mat 4 it would be great to have rafa and roger in the same half for a change,not only for that but to stop the conspiracy theories that we get every time a draw comes out,saying that its all a fix,maybe the potential of a fedal final is what the organisers are after?seriously it would be great to shake things up abit though,seems to have been alot of repeat clashes just lately in the slams.


Ajet Says:

I predict roger and rafa to fall in the same half of the draw.


Ajet Says:

Bad news for Fed fans: Simon reed picks fed for AUS. :(

He’s almost always wrong. :(


alison hodge Says:

ajet who is your favourite?


Ajet Says:

alison:

federer is my favourite.. :D


alison hodge Says:

ok thanks ajet.


mat4 Says:

@alison hodge:

The draw is fixed… ;)


alison hodge Says:

mat 4 yeah could be please call me alison though.


Kimberly Says:

http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketAussieOpenATP/kimberli254/Pre-Register.aspx

3 days left til draw is out. Pre-register for the tennis x group draw challenge.

Obviously Djoker is an overwhelming favorite. After that I would say Murray/Roger/Rafa just about even. Then Tsonga/Berdych. Delpo a level below that.


Ajet Says:

fdavourites for AO:

1.Novak
2.Rafa
3.Roger
4.Murray
5.Delpo
6.Tsonga

Only the first two’re sure favourites. The rest are at a distance. However, very little separates fed, murray, delp and tsonga.


Thangs Says:

Nole is clear favourite. Then comes Murray…

Roger/Rafa are tied in 3rd place.

Roger – depends how bad is the back pain. Still I couldn’t see him beyond semi

Rafa – game is there but mind and confidence is not. Qtr/Semi.

Tsonga,Berdych,Delpo stands next in queue.


carlo Says:

“I see myself capable of having a good tournament but you never know,” Nadal said to AFP. “I am happy with the level of my game, of how I am doing things and I think I am sowing seeds that will bear fruit. But maybe not in Australia.”

He’s being vague. And you can’t blame him after last year. He looked rather non-committal but promising in Doha. I’d guess he’s hiding better form than willing to admit.

Novak
AndyM
Rafa
Jo
Tomas
Roger
DavidF
Gael


carlo Says:

@KK Myers Says:
January 10th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

“Why isn’t the TV schedule (USA) on the Web when the Australian Open is less than a week away?

Why are they keeping fans in the dark?

Anyone have it?”

Here it is:

ESPN2 and ESPN3.com have their schedules out. Live Coverage starting Sunday, January, 15.

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2012/01/10/espn-tv-schedule-for-tennis-first-major-of-2012-the-australian-open/116025/


Daniel Says:

Nadal can complain all he wants, but he is still on a verge of reaching 4 Slams Finals in a row, something we last see from, Federer! Until he loses he is the second favorite behind Nole.


grendel Says:

Everyone likes a flutter. But the fact is, prediction’s a mug’s game. You can say that if:a), b), c) and d) then Djokovic (Murray, Federer, Nadal, Del Potro, Tsonga) will win.

Only one problem.

None of us – not a single person, not even one, nowhere in the whole world – has the least idea whether a), b), c) or d), or whether just one of them or two or three or the whole caboodle or, if 2 of them, which two – and so on. And anyway, perhaps there is e) and f), too. Not to mention g).

Afterwards, everyone will forget about all that and say,”you know, I had a feeling it was going to be like that” and they won’t even be lying. Because whatever happens, just about every feasible permutation will have been considered and adjudicated by all the knowledgeable Tennisx posters. In that sense, there won’t really even be a surprise. Whatever the result is, everyone will have thought of it, and they will forget all the other possibilities they had also thought of (apart from their one personal favourite to win).

Thus suppose we have a Fedal final, and Fed does his 5th set collapse thing. Everyone will say, well, of course, we knew that tune well. What could you expect? Or supposing, instead, Federer wins the 5th set. Everyone will say, well, Federer has been looking more confident, Nadal’s looked a bit glum recently, it was predictable that Federer would at last turn the tables.

And so on and so forth.


Lulu Iberica Says:

grendel,

I am watching AO 2000 men’s final on ESPN Classic. I confidently predict that Agassi is going to win! Seriously, you are absolutely correct about predictions — there is just no way to know what will happen.

I’ve been enjoying this classic tennis tv marathon. Last night I stumbled across 18 year-old Rafa taking Hewitt to 5 sets at the 2005 AO. It was funny, because Hewitt seemed much more intimidating than Rafa — strutting, jumping, fist pumping, etc. Rafa was not the bull yet! It was lovely watching that match knowing what he would become.


Lulu Iberica Says:

^Sorry, meant to say I’m watching 2000 AO semifinal.


Kimmi Says:

good win to open up with for delpo..


Colin Says:

Grendel, you are so right. None of us has a clue about future events. As I’ve said a hundred times online, if any of us could forecast the future, we wouldn’t be wasting time on forums;we’d be sitting on our private yacht counting our winnings!
As a Brit, I want Murray to win, of course. Jon Wertheim, whom I used to take seriously, has made a remarkaby silly statement about Andy:
“Still the burden of proof rests on Murray. After years of ‘Murray’s major victory is a question of when not if’ talk, it’s now on him to disprove the doubters”
What utter nonsense. When any claim is made, the “burden of proof” is on those who made the damned claim. Murray has never made that statement about his own prospects. And Wertheim is a law graduate!


margot Says:

Colin: I want Andy to win because I love the way he plays, the variety, the touch, the movement etc. The fact he’s British is a pleasant extra but for me neither here nor there. If Henman, Rusedski and co had won ten apiece I would have been no more than mildly interested.


jane Says:

Some interesting results at KooYong, which I realise is an exo, but still. Melzer beat Tsonga, easily; Fish routed Raonic, totally; and Tomic beat Berdych, just, in what looks like it was a three set cracker. Roddick of the Mohawk is still to play Monfils of the dreads. :)


Humble Rafa Says:

I am watching AO 2000 men’s final on ESPN Classic. I confidently predict that Agassi is going to win!

Predictions can be difficult, especially when they you try to predict the past.


Humble Rafa Says:

Still the burden of proof rests on Murray. After years of ‘Murray’s major victory is a question of when not if’ talk, it’s now on him to disprove the doubters”
What utter nonsense. When any claim is made, the “burden of proof” is on those who made the damned claim. Murray has never made that statement about his own prospects. And Wertheim is a law graduate!

—-
Mr. Lady Forehand is a choker. So, the burden of proof that he is not a choker is on him.

Funny, how when you hate someone, you actually find out what they went to school for. Anyone know what Peter Body studied? We have his share of haters here.


Abhinav Says:

If we count on the present scenario, no doubt, DJOKO will be the one from whom the tennis fans will be expecting again for the max repeat of 2011 season. Also he is the favorite this Aus Open.

Elaborating the contrast of other favorites, it says Fed , Rafa, Andy …..

Apart from Fantastic Four … the one that can show their power will be Tsonga & Delpo… Ferrer is not the one to be counted apart from these two… I count Tsonga to be the one that will scare top 4..

For Delpo it will be the most important tournament as if he really needs to scare others like in 2009, he needs to be in quarters or semis atleast, otherwise the time is going for his fans…

Expectations kills and thats what happened with Delpo last season of hard court… But the players that will be worth to watch apart from top four is only Tsonga & Delpo.

We will be waiting for the exciting contests and thrillers this Aus Open and hope these two gives the Agni Ace.


Rahul Says:

Nole is easily the favourite.

Im a little concerned about Rafa. He always underplays his chances but of late from his statements it almost sounds like he’s lost some self belief. Of course it could just be a way for him to take the pressure off…

With Federer, if Rafa falls in his half and loses early, then I can see him beating Nole and Murray in the final assuming his back holds up. So too many “ifs” for me to give him a chance.

Which makes Murray the second favourite. He’s always had the talent and variety, but lacks a weapon. I think his performance in this slam will really dictate the kind of year he ends up having…


margot Says:

Hmm Andy has so far lost finals to, apparently, the greatest player who ever picked up a tennis racquet and Nole who went on to have the greatest year ever. Hmm, hmm some choke.


margot Says:

Monfils, knees strapped looking slow, takes the first set on a tie break with a very naughty, very casual trick shot!
But why oh why does Andy keep coming to the net? He loses the point every time, he’s hopeless.


malher Says:

djoker is the one who is goiing to choke this year!


Michael Says:

My choice would be Novak to lift the title. There was definitely some concern about his form after the US Open when he faced this shoulder problem and now after seeing him at the Abu Dhabi exhibition, I am fully satisfied that Novak is at his very best and is raring to go to pick up one more major. If he fails then my next choice would be Andy Murray but he must conquer the demons of nerves. I am hesitant about Roger’s chances considering his back problems and the less said about Rafa the better. He himself is not sounding too confident about his prospects. Therefore Novak, Murray would be my choice and the dark horse would be Tsonga.


Michael Says:

Malher, Even Novak haters will admit that he never chokes. He has nerves of steel even better than Nadal and that is the reason he gets the better of him often.


malher Says:

micheal – he chokes – then retire !


Colin Says:

Michael – Nole never chokes? Am I right in thinking he failed to covert set points in his first US Open fianl against Federer? And stop using that stupid word “haters”. We are talking about a game, not about war or international politics.


Colin Says:

For “covert” read “convert”. Oh, and for “fianl” read “final”. You irritated me so much I couldn’t concentrate.


grendel Says:

margot – it is not that Murray lost to Federer and Djokovic, it was the manner of his losing that was the concern. But that’s water under the bridge now. I look forward to an excellent tourney from Murray.

Lulu Iberica – I remember that Hewitt/Nadal match well. Oddly, I was then rooting for Nadal, since as you say, Hewitt then was in full fist pumping mode which has always rubbed me up the wrong way. I remember thinking that Nadal faded towards the end, that if he’d been fitter, he’d have won. I think Hewitt has sometimes given the mature Nadal a decent scrap, especially at RG.


asirem asirem Says:

Roger FEDERER THE BEST FOREVER AND WILL BE THE CHAMPIONSHIP OF AUstralian open tennis 2012


Colin Says:

Humble Rafa, I ought not to dignify your nonsense with a reply, but I will. You have neatly repeated the error I explained. When someone explains something on this forum, sunshine, it is for a numbskull like you to read, learn, and improve your tiny mind. Got that?
Right. You say Murray is a choker. It may be true or not, but that isn’t the point. YOU said it, so the onus is on YOU to prove it. I’m not saying you couldn’t I’m saying you have to. Why, why, is this so hard for you to grasp?


Kimmi Says:

radwanska fighting. can she?


jane Says:

margot, I know what you’re saying re: Andy R. I have always wondered why he is so persistent about coming to net when it clearly isn ‘t his forte. AO 2007 he did so versus Fed and was soundly beaten even though in their previous two matches at WTF 2006 and KooYong 2007 he hadn’t come to net a lot and the score was closer. And at last year’s USO where Andy was routed by Rafa, he did the same, coming to net over and over and getting passed repeatedly. Is it coaches who push him into these plays or what? Why doesn’t Andy R let it rip from the back court? That is largely why he won his last big title in Miami in 2010 (or waa it 2009)? He took it to Nadal and then Berdych and he won.


grendel Says:

Li Na’s comment on husband and coach after beating Safarova:”As a coach, sometimes I was feeling he was doing good but sometimes I feel like he does stupid things…But if I win the match, I have to listen to what he says. I just say ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ but deep inside I was thinking ‘come on, I was playing out on the court, not you. You can only talk’.”

jane says:”Why doesn’t Andy R let it rip from the back court? ” That’s a perennial question. You get the feeling Roddick has all kinds of conflicting messages tumbling around in his head.


margot Says:

grendel @ 6.35, of course I know that, I wasn’t being entirely serious. I’m getting a tad irritated with some posts, that say the same thing over and over, is all.
jane: it’s SO painful to watch. Must be Larry whatshisnames bad advice.
BTW I think Tignor’s opinion is more valuable than most, he is incredibly knowledgeable, does loads of research and makes his living from writing about tennis. I also understand he plays a neat game himself. The manner of Borg’s leaving is as significant as the fact.


grendel Says:

But Tignor being generally knowledgeable – agreed – is neither here nor there in this instance. I doubt if Borg himself is entirely clear why he left tennis – he was one troubled man. “The manner of Borg’s leaving is as significant as the fact.” That may be true, but doesn’t mean we know how to interpret it exactly. I repeat, I believe it was the result of a combination of factors and if Tignor wants to speculate that it was due to one factor, I think he’s got it badly wrong. I don’t care if he plays a neat game of tennis or if he does lots of research and all the rest of it, and I certainly don’t think his opinion on a matter which isn’t about the techniques of tennis is any more valuable than anyone elses’. I quite like his writing, by the way.


mat4 Says:

Hello, everybody!

@grendel, margot:

I also like Stignor’s writing. He is very poetic, and his articles are often more about writing than about tennis. I believe you enjoy certainly more than I do, since you understand better. And sometimes, elegance, or a good word, is for him more precious than the truth. Not to mention that the truth is transcendent most of the time. I agree with grendel on that one.


mat4 Says:

Then, I was a bit ashmed to ask, but I have some troubles with the gender of certain names. I looked plain stupid at times, assuming an (m) for somebody who was an (f). It is psychological, nothing serious, but I feel a bit disorientated.

So I need some help. Is Alison (m) or (f)? Kimmi? Lulu?


mat4 Says:

A good article. Lin is the opposite of Tignor. Tignor is first a writer, then a tennis player. Lin’s writing is second tier at best, but he looks quite knowledgeable about tennis.

http://essentialtennis.com/tournews/2012/01/thoughts-heading-into-2012-australian-open/


margot Says:

I suggest you guys actually read “High Strung” which is all about the Borg MCenroe rivalry, with lots of insight about other players, including Lendl, and what tennis was actually like in those days, and come back to the discussion when you have.


Michael Says:

Colin,
You cannot just single out Novak in failing to convert set points. Right from Federer/Nadal to the World No. 128 fail to convert set points but that doesn’t merit the label of “choke”.

I am sorry about using the word “haters” if that hurts you. I correct it to critique. Is that okay ??? Thanks.


Michael Says:

Malher, He chokes and then he retires. I do not deny that Novak has retired many times during the course of a match. But I never seen him choke. He is a tremendous fighter with grit and determination. Else, how can he beat Nadal in six consecutive finals ?????


alison hodge Says:

mat 4 cant speak for the others but im definatlty female.


grendel Says:

There’s always another book you can read about anything. No end to that one. Meanwhile, according to you, Tignor has a single explanation for Borg’s retirement – wrong. That’s all that matters in this context. That Tignor’s book could be an interesting read is another matter. I have read many of his articles, and I am quite prepared to believe he has written an entertaining book.


grendel Says:

“You cannot just single out Novak in failing to convert set points”. Everyone chokes, it’s human nature. Some do it more than others. Djokovic certainly doesn’t choke these days – although, as he gets older, and more vulnerable, you never know. Old weaknesses can resurface.
Meanwhile, in that final against Federer when he was serving for the first set (40-0, wasn’t he?) – of course he choked! It was one of the classic chokes of recent times. And the the thing is, Djokovic has LEARNT from it. With the great ones, failures tend to be the preconditions of success.


Colin Says:

Michael, it wasn’t I who “singled out” Nole, it was you. You said he “never chokes”. Maybe he has stopped doing it, but to me “never” means he never has in his life.


dusan Says:

Hi everyone,
I just want to point that Nole pre-2011 and Nole in 2011, are two different players.I was fan of Nole for years but his attitude, choking (yes!) and early retairment gone on my nerves!But 2011…different story.What I’m trying to say that analysing Nole is bit difficult at the moment because nobody knows is the ‘new Novak’ is temporary or somebody who is going to stay like that….


malher Says:

@ dusan – totally agree – My opinion – think he is mentally more strong – but i dont know for how long??


Lulu Iberica Says:

mat4,

I’m female! I’ve always thought of Lulu as a feminine name, and it is one of my many nicknames.

I cannot wait for the AO to start! I got excited just watching a commercial for it a few minutes ago!

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