Australian Open Preview: Federer Looking Good
by Sean Randall | January 12th, 2007, 7:20 pm

Picking Roger Federer to win a Grand Slam is not exactly going out on a limb, but that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, who else is there to pick?

For my money, it’s Fed’s title. No surprise, really. Though, outside of the French the Australian Open has been the toughest of the three remaining Slams for him to win. Remember, last year he needed a five-setter over Tommy Haas and two tough four-setters over Nikolay Davydenko and Marcos Bagdhatis. And they year prior Marat took him down in the semifinals. ADHEREL

So if you’re a non-clay kinda guy looking to grab a Slam crown this year this event might give you your best chance at cracking Fed. But you have to be fit and ready for the heat.

Looking at Fed’s draw, a rematch with Baghdatis looms in the quarters. Fed also faces a few obstacles in Mikhail Youzhny in the 3rd RD and the semi-cocky Novak Djokovic in the 16s. And if not Baggy in the QFs he could get Richard Gasquet. But I’ll stick with Baggy who I think will beat Gasquet and then Mr. Excitement, Tommy Robredo, to reach the 16s.

I read on how apparently Andy Roddick has narrowed the gap on Roger Federer and will now win the Australian Open. Really? When the hell did that happen? Last I checked Fed was 12-1 on the Andy so care to explain this “narrowing”? Oh yeah, Andy had their last match in hand with three match points against Roger in Shanghai, that is until Roger decided to win it.

Let’s remind ourselves that the last title Andy won was in Cincinnati, which he only won because Danny Bracialli laid an egg in first round against Roddick.

Andy did catch fire after that Bracciali choke job – give him credit – by following with the Cincy title and then the Open final, but he then suffered losses to Safin, Tursunov, Berdych, Gonzalez, Nalbandian and of course Federer to end the year. And i think he lone career Grand Slam top 10 win is still Juan Carlos Ferrero in that 2003 US Open final.

So why all the media admiration? Well, he reached the Open final and he held three MPs against Roger, so he must back! Plus, he’s with Connors now and he worked harder than ever in the off season, so she says at least.

(If there’s one thing I hate about the off season it’s reading about how hard players have trained during it. Have you ever read a quote where a player said of his off season regimen, “Nah, I just sat on the couch pounding pop tarts”? I haven’t, but it’s happened, and no player is ever going to say it. So of course when asked players for the most part are going to say, “Yeah, I trained like crazy. I’m in peak shape feeling great and I’m excited about the New Year.”)

If he is to go deep in Oz, Roddick will have to beat Marat Safin in the third round, Ancic in the fourth and then Ljubucic in the QF. Frankly, I like Safin who always seems to play well in Australia. Sorry, PMac, I get that your are trying to ignite Andy’s confidence but I don’t think your Boy is even going to meet Mr. Federer. I’ll take big Marat, instead.

Now to the bottom half, which begins with a third quarter filled with a bunch of fellas who say they are injured or really are injured. David Nalbandian has a bad knee, Nikolay Davydenko has a bad foot to go along with a bad attitude (don’t look for him getting the key to Sydney anytime soon), and Dmitry Tursunov is fighting a bad wrist.

If Nalbandian plays, which I think he will, he should get through Tommy Haas and then maybe Xavier Malisse to reach semifinals. If he’s really hurt, then it’s anyone’s quarter. Haas would probably be the No. 2 pick, but he’s been off the radar for a while now. His buddy Malisse is hot, but do you really want to pick him into the SF of Slam based on one title in India? Same for Tomas Berdych, lots of game but still shaky upstairs. Instead, I’ll go with Robin Soderling, that is if Nalbandian is not 100%. And that is a crazy pick.

Rafael Nadal anchors the last quarter, and while he pulled with a groin injury from Sydney last week, word is the Spaniard will be fine for Melbourne. His draw looks pretty fine, also, that is up until a fourth round clash with Andy Murray, who will put an end to any hopes of Nadal claiming this title this year. The victory for Murray should set up a great quarterfinal showdown with James Blake. I’ll take Murray in five sending the American to 0-10 in five-setters. Sorry, James, but Andy’s coach, Brad Gilbert, has had some pretty good success Down Under.

I should also mention Australia’s favorite (or least favorite) son, Lleyton Hewitt who’s always in the mix. But this year I’m not buying his “I’m playing better than ever” crap. Add to that he hurt his leg and sacked his coach, so there’s seems to be plenty of problems in his camp and plenty of reasons for him not to reach the second week. Sorry, mate, will have to pass on ya, but good luck anyway.

So my semifinals to recap: Federer v. Safin; Nalbandian v. Murray with Federer beating Murray in the final. Scary, but i’ll go with it.

Sounds like a bunch of B.S.? Fair enough. I guess in a just two short weeks we’ll find out. Good on ya.

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33 Comments for Australian Open Preview: Federer Looking Good

not a hack Says:

*** Oh yeah, Andy had their last match in hand with three match points against Roger in Shanghai, that is until Roger decided to win it. ***

that is until roddick decided to choke and hand the win to federer.
big difference there mate

sideline Says:

It won’t be his tennis, it will once again be the Melbourne Casino that will be Andy’s undoing at the AO.

Andrew Miller Says:

Federer will lose in the Australian Open. Word is he’s not so sharp – anyone and everyone is dispatching Marat Safin these days, so that quick victory is meaningless; on the other hand, Radek Stepanek, cursed by the Hingis love bug jinx, pushed him hard over three sets just this week. So I am picking against Federer. Got a 50 % chance of being right!

Tek Says:

Well well well. Arod beats the Fed at Kooyong. This changes things. I think this article was written a bit too soon. Roddick was consistent at Kooyong though. It’ll be very out-of-character for him to stay with that consistency to a semi-final clash with the Fed. Basically, i think the predictions were very well placed, this is a walk in the park for Roger.

Lucy Says:

That Roger lost at Kooyong today is a good sign for the AO. The only year he has won it – 2005- he lost in the SF of the AO. The other years – 2004 & 2006- he lost at some stage of the tournament but then went on to win the AO… a bit of a pattern emerging. Oh and in reference to Roddick “choking” in Shanghai. it wasn’t choking, it was arrogance. On set point for Roger, Roddick decided to do a Sampras slam dunk which handed the set to Roger and virtually handed him the match… The gap is still wide open

Lucy Says:

Oh and “Andrew Miller”, The stepanek match was the first of the season – therefore bound to be rusty, and the fact that Roger won is a great testament to his ability. And Marat is currently playing extremely well, coming off that deciding victory for Russia in the DC… I hope you’re not a betting man, because no one can afford to bet against Roger

JCF Says:

I think Ljubicic is due. A final is a bit too soon for Murray I think. He has the game to do it, but I don’t think he’s ready for the big stage just yet. Personally, I’d really love to see a Nadal vs Fed final. This surface is well suited to Nadal’s game, and I’d say he can beat Blake on it. It’s only on faster courts that he lost to Blake. If he can get Blake to 5 sets, he can phone in the result.

Andy is closing the gap on Fed, at least in Best of Three Sets. 5 setters is a different ball game. He beat Fed at Kooyong, and Fed was playing great. Fed had a lot of chances on Andy’s serve but couldn’t convert, while Andy converted on Fed’s serves. It’s only an exo tournament though. Fed was experimenting since the result doesn’t count. But Roddick definately has improved, and will actually feel like he can beat Fed the next time they meet in a real tourney. The win gives him confidence.

PMac’s prediction may not be entirely hot air after all. But having said that, Roddick hasn’t beaten more than 1 top 10 player in any GS match, and he does have a tough draw.

dibs Says:

The one thing I see in Roddick’s favor is that, unlike most players not called Federer or Nadal he has at least experienced a slam win and mutliple final appearances.

Within the current top 10 Robredo and Davydenko have won a Masters each (Roddick’s got 4 of those) and the rest haven’t won any major tournaments.

TejuZ Says:

well.. I’d love to see a repeat of the 2005 epic Semifinal between Fed and Safin. Well.. i somehow feel Safin will emerge out of that quarter even though Andy is playin well these days.

Yup, Andy did beat Fed today at Kooyong.. but then Fed was experimenting with his service games… trying to serve and volley on his 1st and 2nd serves… even during the break points or set point or match point. So this victory doesnt really count much as far as their rivalry is concerned. But yes, Andy will go into Au Open with his confidence high. Pity that he faces Safin in 3rd round.
well, i’ve got tickets to the centre court for the middle weekend, hope their encounter falls on the Saturday instead of Friday.

The other semifinal could be against Blake and Nalbandian(if hez well) or i’d like Berdych to reach the semis. Blake has improved a lot, and his reaching the Masters Cup finals should give him some confidence for the Grand Slams.

ben Says:

Nikolay shoulda said that Kooyong didn’t matter!

PJ Says:

Roger lost in the same event to Andy last year. I don’t think that really had much impact on Fed’s ability to win at the Australian Open.

jsnj Says:

“Roger lost in the same event to Andy last year.”

No, he didn’t. Federer lost to Haas.

“I don’t think that really had much impact on Fed’s ability to win at the Australian Open.”


PJ Says:

My bad, I thought he lost to Andy.

Sher Says:

You are so biased you don’t even know it.

By the way, Federer all but said that he sat on the couch having a “normal life” so that argument of yours is as solid as a spiderweb.

PJ Says:

Wait, because Roddick has had one good match against Federer (at the YEC; not the exhibition), and he’s been training hard, it’s being bias picking the most dominant player in the game to win the Australian Open? Yeah, that’s crazy talk.

JCF Says:

What we can take from recent events is that Roddick CAN beat Federer. The next time they meet, regardless of whether Kooyong was an exhibition or a real event, Roddick has made enough inroads into Fed to be able to beat him, or at least win 2 sets. It won’t be an anticlimax like it was in the past.

Can he win the AO however, is another question. I think he lost to Baghdatis last year. This year he’s got some dangerous opponents in his Quarter. I think Fed might be a QF or SF opponent.

Another thing learnt, you can’t take too much from Kooyong as a form guide. People enter the event because they are guaranteed three matches against the world’s best. It’s an opportunity for them to experiment and fine tune their game with real competition, but without the result counting against them. Fed uses it to practice. In the last 3 years, he won it once and lost it twice. When he won it, he didn’t win the AO. Both times he lost it, he won the AO. So his loss to Roddick in the final is not necessarily an ill omen for him. He can still win the AO. Last year he lost to Haas, then they met again at the AO and he beat Haas in 5 sets.

Sean Randall Says:

That Kooyong match yesterday was 100% irrelevant in my mind. Whenever Roger wears his watch the result is meaningless. That’s what he says at least. I believe him.

baselinehack Says:

Federer losing is always good news for tennis.
Good luck to Roddick at AO I hope he wins.

ben (the real one) Says:

im surprised at the number of ppl who think safin will do well. he seems like he’s playing “normal” and against a super confident roddick who beat federer where safin didn’t, roddick looks like the favorite. then again safin does play well at the AO and if he does get passed roddick that’s a huge confidence boost. and if he plays federer in the semis i think we can all expect another epic clash that’s tough to call. but i don’t expect safin to get passed roddick. everytime i root for him he dissappoints me, roddick hasn’t dissappointed me in quite some time. murray beating blake makes sense. murray beating nadal is questionable, nadal might be playing with a high intensity that could bother murray. nalbandian sucks i hope he loses in the first round. nuff said

Alex Says:

You read it here first. Fed will be undone in the 4th round by Djokovic or whatever his name is. He is cocky enough to pull off the upset. I think Fed wants the French this year, trying to peak for that instead of the AO. Can’t wait to watch

Missy Says:

Was it just me or did Andy Roddick look like the tail end of a horse during his verbal exchange with the chair umpire during the Tsonga match?
For all that the commentators were defending him saying what a smart guy he was, to me he looked like he was over reaching his intellectual capacity trying to look smarter the the ump.
What a jerk. I’d never thought of it until now, but there should be penalty of some sort for verbal insults to the chair.

darren Says:

I think to label Federer anything but a favorite in any tournament is ludicrous (maybe except for the French Open). Yes it is possible for him to lose however he’s gotta be the favorite in any match he plays. After what, one exhibition match that both players weren’t playing to win, we now say Roddick is favored in a Roddick vs Federer match, ridiculous . This AO should be very interesting seeing how this whole thing plays out. Honestly I hope Federer wins it because he’s such a graceful player.

JCF Says:

Ugh.. every time I think Ljubi will make a breakthrough he disappoints by flaming out in the first round. Especially when he brings momentum into a slam by winning a warmup event.

Well done Ljubes. You get a step closer to a major title each time.

kevin GB Says:

I cant beleive Ljubi lost first round i thought this was gonna be the slam he finally does something in.
I’m cheering for Federer until he breaks Sampras’s slam record.

ben (the real one) Says:

“I’d never thought of it until now, but there should be penalty of some sort for verbal insults to the chair. ”
NO THERE SHOULDN’T! Roddick is HILARIOUS. Why should we be deprived of seeing good old fashioned comedy. Ljubicic sucks. Nalbandian should be the highest seed to go out, not Ljubo. Still hoping for Nalby to lose though.

red devil Says:

All this WAFFLE about Roddick-u people need 2 CHILL..!Tourney doesnt start til Week 2-gotta get there b4 worry about winning it!Think JB has much better chance than ARod,but am going Fed in 5 over Berdych(way overdue for 5 in AO Final,Wilander-Cash 88)

TejuZ Says:

Well, if Fed reaches the final, it wont be a five setter for sure. If Safin reaches the semis, there is a chance that match against Fed might go to 5 sets depending on which Safin turns in. One thing that is predictable abt Safin is his unpredictabily. If he finds his rythm, he starts to dominate the baseline rallies, clock those unreturnable serves. So am pretty sure the 3rd round match between Roddick and Safin is gonna be intresting just like their last AO encounter in 2004, when Safin won in 5 sets. Even though am a great Fed fan, i’d love to see Safin win this tournament.. we want him in top 5 and hopefully world No 2 displacing Nadal.

topspin me Says:

Fed is cruising through; Roddick is being stretched with gruelling matches (especially against Safin and Ancic). A-Rod is definitely coming in with a disadvantage should they meet in the quarterfinals. And it’s not as if Andy’s win against Roger (finally!) in their last encounter in an exhibition game in Kooyong signals a change in the trend.

Serena, Young Guns Highlight Week One of Australian Open Says:

[…] As I watch Rafael Nadal polish off my boy, my runner-up pick, Andy Murray, thought I’d put together a few notes on the week in Australia we just saw (or didn’t see). By the way, this Murray-Nadal match is the best of the tournament thus far. Great tennis. Keyword being tennis. […]

TennisMasta Says:

Did people forget that Federer is only 25? Remember how many slams Sampras had at exactly the same time in his career? 8. Yes, eight.
He went on to amass a total of 14 over the next 6 years.

I heard no one pleading with Pete to stop winning, or how his game was boring (his pistol serving was indeed boring), or how his winning was causing a lack of interest in the game. There were no Andy Murray’s who instead beating Sampras just hoped Sampras went away so they could have some rivalries.

Then what is all the talk about Federer winning. Folks get used to this – Federer is following the same path of Sampras. He will play for exactly another 6 years and retire at the peak.

So for the wimpy Murray’s and Djokovic’s, hoping to have it easy (no Federer, no Nadal so they can win some tournaments), the message is just look at history. If you want to be great, you have beat the greats. If Federer and Nadal did not exist, there is no chance for the likes of Murrays’ to ever become great.

So, Murray, you better hope that Federer doesn’t play as long as Agassi (36 years) or Connors (longer than 36) did. But no one complained about them. Greats like Sampras and Federer beat Agassi and that’s how they became great in turn.

So, Murray and Djokovic, Stop wining and start winning. Start with Nadal, Roddick, Blake, Davydenko, and others. See if you can beat them consistently.

ben (the real one) Says:

murray is gonna be great. and he already beat federer and put up a great fight against nadal. i dont like djokovic though.

Vic Says:

I think the AO is the ideal opportunity for Fed to win his 10th Grand Slam, obviouly he thinks he, and his parents think he has a good chance as they are uncharacteristically here in Aus to watch him achieve this momentous feat.I will be anxiously watching him with hands over eyes as he tussles with Roddick.

I know he can beat Roddick as long as he starts out strong serving with a high percentage of first serves. If he comes out shakey then I think Roddick will smell it and put everything he’s got into beating our Fed.

I think Roger’s last match with Robredo was shakey,possibly due to the wind or having his father present for the first time. With this in mind, Federer knows what he has to do. Fed definitely came out and put Dokvch in his place, strong from the outset, so whatever frame of mind he put himself in there he must apply the same tonight.

Clearly, I would love Fed to win and he will if he wins the first set.

My dream will be to see Fed win this title, his 10th Grandslam, in front of his parents and friends as I am sure the tournament organisers will have a huge celebration in store for him.

Roger Federer, do what you do best and show the doubting toms that you are who you are, the maestro of mens’ tennis.

Vic Says:

I’m glad my prediction came true and Federer certainly came out with all guns firing with such finness, as it turned out I didn’t have to watch the match with my eyes closed as Fed was blistering in his accuracy and strategem.

After watching Gonzales slaughter Haas and other competitors who have crossed his path I am going to predict once again that Fed will win. Once again he will have to come out strong and take the first set.

The difference will be that Federer has accuracy at the baseline and will be able to draw GonzALES IN, playing to G’s backhand without giving him any pace in the ball. I think G will start to push his balls wide and then begin to lose confidence.

Federer will have to be pinpoint accurate so the match level will be very high.

After beating Roddick, I think Federer is on a high and is very motivated to win his 10th slam.

Roger, you are the best, you have the most experience and your record speaks for itself. Come out with the fighting spirit you showed Dokvc and Roddick and once again show em all that you are who we know you to be, the maestro of mens’ tennis. I can not wait to see you with your 10th trophy here in Aus.

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