Sunday, 18 January 2009

2Hander's Take: The Men's Draw


[The reader is kindly referred to the opening line of Dr Dre and Snoop's 187/Deep Cover to get the real essence behind my intonations...]

Ahem! Sorry about that outburst, but the most eagerly awaited Slam for many a year gets underway tomorrow - and I can't wait!!

Looking at the Men's draw, you can be forgiven for assuming a 'boring' seed 1 VS 4 and 2 VS 3 semi-final line-up. However, the past three years have shown that the first Grand Slam event of the year tends to produce not only early upsets, but rogue, unexpected finalists {ie Baghdatis, Gonzalez and Tsonga}.

The first thing that caught my eye was the prospect of Nadal playing Gasquet in the 4th round I think it is. Then Hewitt VS Gonzalez, which I can't see the Chilean failing to win. Now, the top chunk could see a Nadal-Simon quarter, which would be interesting to see. That said, Monfils is also in that quarter - but he may face Youzhny in the 2nd round.

The second quarter is also very interesting with Murray, Tsonga and Gulbis! Topspin informs me that Tsonga has a back complaint!! However, he still plans on playing - let's hope it's nothing serious. I can't see any major threats in the early rounds apart from maybe Ljubicic and oh yeah, Andreev is also strong on hard courts. I don't know if the US Open just gone was a 'flash in the pan' for Nishikori, but keep him in mind as well.

The third quarter has our Nole, who will no doubt have a point to prove given that he is the reigning champion. He does NOT want to be a One Slam Wonder but his defeats early on this season to Gulbis and Nieminen may be niggling in his mind. What happened to the nerves of steel swagger he used to have on court? The only threat I can see him facing is the A-Rod but given their last encounter, I don't see him being tested much at all. Then again, never discount Baghdatis...

Last but not least, the final quarter. It's weird seeing The Fed all the way down there! The major talking point has to be the potential 3rd round meeting between Federer and Safin. It would be their first meeting in Melbourne since the 2005 semi-final. Now, of course it would depend on which Safin turns up, but then again it's Fed in a Slam - our Swiss friend has a major point to prove and a certain record to beat! There are quite a few other dangerous names there, like Robby Ginepri, Gilles Muller, Tipsarevic, name but a few.


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