For those staying up late this Friday night, the loss of sleep could be well worth it. Then again, maybe not. Of course I’m talking about the big showdown tonight at the Australian Open when wunderkind Bernard Tomic against four-time champ Roger Federer.
It’s a rematch of their much-hyped match a year ago when Federer tuned the teen inside out in straight sets wins.
This time around Tomic comes in with even more hoopla, deservedly so. After a dismal finish to the 2012 season, the 20-year-old has really stepped up his game early in 2013 – maybe he can only do it on the homeland? Sure he played well at the Hopman Cup (and beat Novak Djokovic) but then followed it up by winning the Sydney tournament when the results actually mattered.
And he’s carried over that improved play to Melbourne where this week he hasn’t dropped serve in his first two matches.
Federer, who adhered to his schedule reduction by skipping any warm-up tournaments, showed no signs of any rust from not having played a meaningful match since London. Roger had no troubles with flashy Frenchman Benoit Paire and then he crushed longtime whipping boy Nikolay Davydenko a few nights ago.
So both guys come in playing decent tennis, but still the big, big edge here goes to Federer.
Tomic has found some confidence and is in a groove, there’s no denying that. But look at who he’s beaten. Leonardo Mayer? Qualifier Daniel Brands? Even in his Sydney win he didn’t beat anyone in the Top 20. And the problem I have is during his career he hasn’t showed that he really can beat the big names.
Tomic’s better serve shouldn’t hurt Federer much – Roger does so well against the big servers. And really his groundstrokes and movement shouldn’t frighten Roger either, as long as Federer is playing like we know he can.
And Federer doesn’t like losing and especially not to younger guys who like to flap their gums as Bernard has been doing. So while I expect it to be an entertaining match, I think it’s Roger in straight sets and hello to a 35th straight Slam fourth round.
Also today, I’m really surprised and disappointed to see Juan Martin Del Potro in a struggle with Jeremy Chardy. After a strong finish to 2012 this would be a crushing loss for Del Po after he can’t get back on track here. Fortunately there’s still time for the Argentine who dropped the first set and is now down a break in the second to the underachieving Frenchman.
Andy Murray, JW Tsonga and Marin Cilic also look like good picks this evening. I’ll be interested to see how Milos Raonic fares. We’ve been waiting for a while for him to make some noise.
On the top half, Novak Djokovic is still the favorite but I like the way Tomas Berdych has been playing. David Ferrer also had a good result last night over Marcos Bahgdatis – it looks like Marcos may never get back to another Slam final, what a shame.
But with the top guys winning we’ll get some good matchups the rest of the way.
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