Two rounds down just five more to go before we crown our first champions of the 2010 Grand Slam tennis season. So what have we learned? Well, Maria Sharapova still has a ways to go, as does Ana Ivanovic. Justine Henin proved just as her countrywoman Kim Clijsters did last year, that your can take a really, really long time off from women’s tennis and still comeback and immediately beat top players and win Slams. Henin of course beat Elena Dementieva Wednesday night in Melbourne. Dementieva remember is the No. 5 player in the world and I’m sure many WTA were hoping the Russian would have prevailed, but…ADHEREL
As for the men, Roger Federer nearly gave his legion of followers a collective heart attack in that harrowing escape against Igor Andreev in the first round. If not for Andreev’s consistent gagging, who knows. Federer did manage to work out the kinks and he turn it around quickly earlier today by destroying Victor Hanescu. Good thing too, you don’t want to go into the crapper when Prince William shows up. And to his credit Roger didn’t, but Hanescu isn’t much opposition. Federer now gets Albert Montanes before either Lleyton Hewitt or Marcos Baghdatis (love that guy Bagdhatis!) and then the quarterfinals showdown with the buzzsaw named Nikolay Dayvdenko. Which Federer will show up? The one we saw against Andreev or the one Prince William watched last night?
Rafael Nadal seems to be in fine form on the spin-friendly Melbourne courts. As does Andy Murray. The two seem destined to clash. Maybe my man Gael Monfils can play the spoiler, but even though I think he gets through Big John Isner tomorrow, I don’t think he has the toughness to outlast Murray. We’ll see. Ivo Karlovic could spell danger for Nadal, but can the 6-foot-10 giant even get to that match?
Novak Djokovic didn’t play great today, but he got through and that’s what counts in Slams. The problem for Djokovic may be that his draw is too easy. So easy that when he does run into a strong foe – read Jo Tsonga – he might not be up to snuff. Tsonga is playing some big ball and the Frenchman hasn’t dropped a set. If he stays hot he could run the table to the finals.
And in what I think is still the most competitive quarter, Andy Roddick looks like the man to beat, but looks can be deceiving. Juan Martin Del Potro still remains a question mark to me. It’s really anyone’s guess if his wrist is that bad or if it’s just spin. That being said, I’d love to see Roddick and DelPo hook up in the quarterfinals. Delpo’s effort against James Blake was massive. Injured or not, the guy is simply a beast and he’s just 21. For me though maybe Fernando Gonzalez becomes the guy if DelPo really is ailing.
Overall, a fairly in-form first few days of the Australian Open, that is unless you are a Robin Soderling or the aforementioned Sharapova fan. But I think things should start getting interesting real quick with the seeded players now banging into each other. Could we really get the quarterfinals we want to see? are we that lucky? That deserving? Federer v. Davydenko, Tsonga v. Djokovic, Roddick v. Del Po and Murray v. Nadal. I have to think someone will bow out. Maybe a few guys.
Tomorrow’s (and Saturday’s) schedule is a good one. I’ll be looking forward to Monfils v. Isner and Marin Cilic v. Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss owns Cilic but I like Marin in this one. I’ll also take Monfils, Gonzalez and Ljubicic plus the top guys to advance.
In the women’s draw, Serena’s just too dominant. She’s going to win this thing like it or not. But she’ll have to beat a Belgian in the final. Kim was a little creaky against Tanasugarn so maybe Sveta Kuznetsova gets her in the fourth round and spoils our Belgian dream Henin-Clijsters quarterfinal. But from what I’ve seen Justine looks to on the fast track to returning to the top of the sport.
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