Generations collide tonight at the Australian Open as 19-year-old Bernard Tomic continues his ascent to the upper echelon of men’s tennis against the current king Roger Federer.
Tomic has been the talk the first week Down Under and for good reason. The teen came back from two sets to stun Fernando Verdasco in the first round, overwhelmed Sam Querrey in the second then outplayed and outsliced in a 5-set win Friday against Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Against Federer, it’s a whole new ballgame. Fortunately for Tomic he’s played his idol before with mixed success managing a set during a Davis Cup match in Australia back in September. But that match not only helps Tomic but also Federer who got a feel for Australian’s unique style.
This week, while Tomic has nearly maxed out his playing time Federer’s only been on court for six sets of tennis, three of those against Ivo Karlovic.
So while I give Tomic a good chance to win a set I don’t think he can keep it going long enough and upset Federer today. After two 5-setters and a 4-setter there has to be some weariness. And even though Tomic is the next “Mr Cool”, the attention that’s been on him the last 10 days has to have taken some mental, emotional toll.
Still, it should be a heck of a match so set your alarm if you need to. This kid’s going to win multiple Slams.
In other matches today, Rafael Nadal should have his way (as usual) against his good friend Feliciano Lopez. Nadal, who hasn’t dropped a set, has won eight of 10 meetings with his fellow Spanish lefty. Lopez beat Nadal in their first meeting in 2003 and again when Nadal was exhausted at Queen’s in 2010. Otherwise, Lopez hasn’t won a set in those eight Nadal wins.
On Hisense, I think Tomas Berdych beats Nicolas Almagro. Berdych has queitly been playing well and I think a showdown with Nadal in the quarterfinals might very well surprise.
And in the other men’s fourth rounder, Juan Martin Del Potro plays Phil Kohlscreiber. I like Del Potro but it will be tough in the heat.
As for the women, on the marquee is a rematch of the 2011 final between defending champion Kim Clijsters and Li Na. Li Na was ahead in last year’s final before losing, and I think Clijsters beats her again today. Both women agree they are mirror images of each other but Clijsters has won five of seven meetings and since it’s her last Australian Open, there’s a little more urgency and importance for the Belgian in this one.
And tonight, in the battle of Slamless No. 1s, I think Jelena Jankovic pulls the upset over Caroline Wozniacki. Caroline looks like someone who is ready to give up the top spot and tonight is the night. Interestingly, Jankovic’s former coach, Ricardo Sanchez, is now with Wozniacki.
Thankfully, we so few upsets we should be in for a great week two of tennis matchups and excitement.
Live coverage is now on ESPN2.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN SUNDAY SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Iveta Benesova (CZE)
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) v. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Kim Clijsters (BEL) v. Na Li (CHN)
Rod Laver Arena 7:00 PM Start Time
Bernard Tomic (AUS) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Hisense Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
1. Men’s Doubles – 3rd Round
Bob Bryan (USA) v. Colin Fleming (GBR)
Mike Bryan (USA) Ross Hutchins (GBR)
Not Before:12:30 PM
2. Women’s Singles – 4th Round
Julia Goerges (GER) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
3. Men’s Singles – 4th Round
Tomas Berdych (CZE) v. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)
Margaret Court Arena 11:00 AM Start Time
Not Before:4:00 PM
4. Men’s Singles – 4th Round
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
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