2007 Aussie Open Preview
The list of players injured before the Aussie Open even starts is long, and the list of possible withdrawals from Melbourne, even longer (Rafael Nadal? David Nalbandian? Nikolay Davydenko? Nadia Petrova?), but it’s summer in Australia and the Aussie Open starts Monday (event if Roger Federer says it should be pushed back a month or two on the calendar).
Here is the quick-and-dirty breakdown of the four quarters of the men’s 2007 Australian Open draw:
Seeds: (1) Roger Federer, (7) Tommy Robredo, (11) Marcos Baghdatis, (14) Novak Djokovic, (18) Richard Gasquet, (24) Juan Carlos Ferrero, (25) Mikhail Youzhny, (27) Jose Acasuso
Floaters: Nicolas Massu, Rainer Schuettler, Gael “Force” Monfils, Sam Querrey, “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic
After a few opening yawners, the world No. 1 Federer could have his hands full against Youzhny in the third round, the hungry Djokovic in the fourth, and a quarterfinal against last year’s runner-up Baghdatis or Richard “Baby Fed” Gasquet.
Openers of interest in the quarter are (14) Djokovic vs. the Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu, (11) Baghdatis vs. former Top 10er Rainer Schuettler, (27) Acasuso vs. American riser Sam Querrey, and (7) Robredo vs. Spanish countryman Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in a first-time meeting. Baghdatis vs. Gasquet is another potential third-rounder.
Seeds: (4) Ivan Ljubicic, (6) Andy Roddick, (9) Mario “Baby Goran” Ancic, (16) David Ferrer, (20) Radek Stepanek, (22) Dominik “The Dominator” Hrbaty, (26) Marat Safin, (30) Agustin Calleri
Floaters: Mardy Fish, Thomas Johansson, Joachim “The Jackhammer” Johansson
A big-boomer quarter between Roddick, Ljubicic, Ancic and Safin. Ljubicic opens against seasoned American Mardy Fish, Roddick against wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ancic against wildcard Go Soeda, and Safin against Benjamin Becker. A pretty easy road to the quarters for Ljubicic, who should face Roddick or Safin if he remains healthy.
Seeds: (3) Nikolay Davydenko, (8) David Nalbandian, (12) Tommy Haas, (13) Tomas Berdych, (21) Dmitry Tursunov, (23) Robin Soderling, (28) Sebastien Grosjean, (29) Xavier “X-Man” Malisse
Floaters: Janko Tipsarevic, Chris “Penthouse” Guccione, Max “The Beast” Mirnyi, Arnaud Clement
The “place your bets” quarter, since if the injured Davydenko, Nalbandian or Tursunov take the court, you could pick up some jack with some illegal-in-America Internet betting. Nalbandian could face a tough opener against Tipsarevic if the Serb can keep him out there long enough, while Davydenko opens against Argentine Sergio Roitman, and Tursunov faces a qualifier.
Don’t be surprised to see Haas or Soderling emerge into the quarters against — coin toss.
Seeds: (2) Rafael Nadal, (5) James Blake, (10) Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez, (15) Andy Murray, (17) Jarkko Nieminen, (19) Lleyton Hewitt, (31) Stan Wawrinka, (32) Nicolas Almagro
Floaters: Carlos Moya, Robby Ginepri, Frank Dancevic, Robert Kendrick
Is Nadal still injured? Is Blake still on a roll? Can Andy Murray produce at the Slams? Is Hewitt healthy? Can you spell Jarkko Nieminen?
Lots of questions in the bottom quarter. Blake has beaten Moya, his first-round opponent, in their last two meetings, trailing 3-5 overall in career meetings. (32) Almagro opens against the American Ginepri, Hewitt against a qualifier, Murray against Spaniard Al Martin, and Nadal against the American Kendrick, who led the Spaniard two sets to love last year at Wimbledon before falling to close the deal.
Watch for potential fourth-rounders Blake vs. Hewitt or Gonzo, and Nadal vs. Murray.
The women’s draw is without world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, and No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo is a mess after getting bageled this week by Jelena Jankovic.
Potential quarterfinals on the women’s side are (1) Sharapova vs. (8) Schnyder, (4) Clijsters vs. (6) Hingis or (9) Safina, (11) Jankovic vs. (3) Kuznetsova, and (7) Dementieva or (10) Vaidisova vs. (2) Mauresmo.
Opening round match-ups to look for are (13) Ana Ivanovic vs. American Vania King, (27) Mara Santangelo vs. Serena Williams, (26) Maria Kirilenko vs. Karolina “The Spreminator” Sprem, and (2) Mauresmo vs. rising American Shenay Perry.
AROUND THE TOUR:
Making up rain-delayed matches on Thursday at Auckland was very good for unseeded American Mardy Fish, who beat (2) Mario Ancic in a second-round match, then later in the day edged Juan Ignacio Chela in two tiebreaks to gain the semifinals. Also winning two matches on the day into the semis were (1) Tommy Robredo (d. A.Martin, Kohlschreiber), (3) Dave Ferrer (d. Bracciali, Vliegen in three), and (7) Agustin Calleri (d. Serra, (Q) Monaco from a set down).
Into the Sydney semifinals were (3) James Blake (d. Korolev), unseeded Carlos Moya (d. (4) Baghdatis 7-6 in the third), unseeded Austrian Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer (d. (5) Berdych), and (6) Richard Gasquet (d. French countryman Mathieu, bagel in the third).
In the WTA Hobart semis, top-seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze ended the run of wildcard Sania Mirza 6-4, 6-1, and qualifier Vasilisa Bardina made it an all-Russian final by easily subduing Serena Williams’ conqueror Sybille Bammer 6-3, 6-1.
On the women’s side in Sydney, (3) Kim Clijsters (d. Li 7-5 in the third) and hot-handed Serb Jelena Jankovic (d. (8) Vaidisova in three) advanced to the final.
AROUND THE DIAL:
Nikolay Davydenko was fined $10K for saying nobody cared about the ATP Sydney tournament. ATP chairman Etienne de Villiers in a statement said Davydenko damaged the “very fine tournament” and also also sullied the “reputation of our great sport.”…Lleyton Hewitt tells Australia’s Channel 7 he hasn’t apologized to former coach Roger Rasheed: “It’s [Rasheed’s reasons for quitting] going to stay between Roger and I,” Hewitt said. “Obviously with the timing, I’m shocked, but for me, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge…with the last three and a half years. We’ve had some good times, we’ve had some tough times…We’ve spoken…we’re both obviously disappointed with how things have ended.”…James Blake on Nikolay Davydenko dissing Sydney: “I might be a little offended if some of the guys I’m beating are saying they don’t care and that’s the reason I’m winning. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear someone talk about a tournament and not show (it) the respect it deserves.”…From ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe: “You heard it here first…Andy Roddick will win the second major of his career. No, not at Wimbledon, but at the Australian Open, and in doing so, will make the tennis season real interesting. I love the way he turned the corner in the second half of 2006, and having Jimmy Connors in his corner has helped big-time.” And from Peter Bodo on ESPN.com: “Andy Roddick will win the Australian Open. He finished 2006 on an incredible high and has continued his successful partnership with Jimmy Connors. The Australian surface will be faster this year, and this is a tournament that has thrown up a fair number of big-player upsets in years past.” And from Richard Vach, not on ESPN: “Uhh, what are you guys smoking? Roger Federer will win the Australian Open. More wishful American thinking?”…From tennis writer Matt Cronin on Lindsay Davenport: “There were some journalists who loved her, some who were bothered by her and others who couldn’t care either way. I saw her roast plenty of folks and also saw her patiently sit through some ridiculous lines of questioning. She trusted the press more than she trusted the fans, but as some folks found out who covered her as long as I did, you never really knew where you stood with her, and whether she really meant “Call me anytime.” As the WTA can attest to, when she checked out, she would really check out.”
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