The first Slam draw for the new year just came out, and it looks like a good one for Novak Djokovic. The World No. 1 and 4-time Australian Open champion avoided both Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray who are situated in the bottom half of the draw with Roger Federer. So good news for the Serb!
Djokovic could run into John Inser in the fourth round, then a date probably with Milos Raonic. Juan Martin Del Potro is also in there, but he plays Jerzy Janowicz in arguably the best match of the first round. If Delpo were if form maybe that poses a risk, but I can’t see that nor do I see any upsets by Big John or Milos.
In the second quarter, Stan Warwinka begins his biggest career title defense. The Swiss was granted a great draw to help – though maybe that amps up the pressure – with Fabio Fognini, Pablo Cuevas and Alex Dolgopolov as the major threats in his quarter. Then in that final eight he’ll get either David Ferrer or Kei Nishikori, or even Gilles Simon. If Simon was more in form I’d like his chances, but since we are in the Asian region I’ll go with Nishikori.
Flipping to the bottom, Tomas Berdych and Ernests Gulbis appear headed for a fourth round collision, though Phil Kohlschreiber could play spoiler to the Latvian’s hopes. Actually I think the German will. Former champion Rafael Nadal figures to be a quarterfinal opponent for Tomas, but Rafa’s in a tricky section. Nadal opens with Mikhail Youzhny, who’s beaten the Spaniard. Then potentially Lukas Rosol in the third followed by either Richard Gasquet or Kevin Anderson. Despite his lack of play, in best-of-5 I like Rafa.
In the final quarter we find Federer, Murray and 2014 Australian quarterfinal Grigor Dimitrov. Plus David Goffin and Jeremy Chardy who I think made a quarter in Melbourne also. It’s a tough section but I like Federer over Murray in the end.
So where are we headed? Initially I like Djokovic to win the title, and perhaps he does it over Rafa. I’ll have more over the weekend. But that’s my early pick.
Sweet 16 seeds:
1 Djokovic v 13 Agut
12 Lopez v 8 Raonic
4 Wawrinka v 16 Fognini
9 Ferrer v 5 Nishikori
7 Berdych v 11 Gulbis
14 Anderson v 3 Nadal
6 Murray v 10 Dimitrov
15 Robredo v 2 Federer
Overall, I tab Djokovic’s draw as the easiest with really only serve-bots Isner and Raonic the only true threats. I’d rate Federer’s quarter the toughest with Murray, Dimitrov and Karlovic. Nadal’s is tough, but tough for Rafa.
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