Australian Open 2012: Men's Draw Underdogs Worth Watching on Jan. 18

Carlos TorresContributor IJanuary 17, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Men's Draw Underdogs Worth Watching on Jan. 18

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    After two days of competition, the complete first round of matches on the singles events at the 2012 Australian Open have been completed.

    There were 128 players at each draw—men and women—and now that field has been cut in half.

    On Day 3 we will see the second round matches for the bottom half of the men's draw take place.

    That is the side where second and third seeded players, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, are making their bid to reach the final and add another Grand Slam title to their already double-digit total.

    But those are just two of the matches that will be played on Wednesday. There will be a total of 16 matches from the men's draw to be played.

    Let's take a look at some players that are not favored, and may have been deemed long-shots or underdogs to win the tournament. But their matches, and their efforts to keep advancing in the tournament, are worth watching them play on Wednesday.

Ivo Karlovic CRO

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    First Round Result: d. Jurgen Melzer AUT, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-3

    Second Round Opponent: Carlos Berlocq ARG

    Head-to-Head Record: First meeting

    When: Fourth match after 11:00 am at Court 18

    Big serving Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic, served his way into the Australian Open second round.

    He served 24 aces and won 78% of his first-serve points. That was good enough to beat Austria's Jurgen Melzer for the first time in six tries.

    After the US Open, Karlovic went in and won back-to-back Challenger tournaments, and started the year with a second round exit at Doha.

    In the first round he was at his best with his serve. If he repeats that he should overpower Berlocq and move into a possible third round match against Roger Federer.

Grigor Dimitrov BUL

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    First Round Result: d. Jeremy Chardy FRA, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

    Second Round Opponent: Nicolas Almagro ESP (10)

    Head-to-Head Record: First meeting

    When: Fourth match after 11:00 am at Court 6

    Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov is a former junior No. 1 ranked player and winner of the Wimbledon and US Open junior titles in 2008.

    He is coming off his best year, and started the Australian Open by avenging his French Open loss to France's Jeremy Chardy.

    At the Hopman Cup he got his first win over a Top 10 player, when he easily beat Mardy Fish.

    Dimitrov has been knocking on the door of the top players this year with a series of very close matches against them.

    His first big test of the tournament comes now against Spain's Nicolas Almagro, seeded 10th. This could be the match that jump starts his 2012 campaign onto bigger things.

    Should he win, he will face the winner of the Stanislas Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis.

Donald Young USA

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    First Round Result: d. Peter Gojowczyk GER, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2

    Second Round Opponent: Lukas Lacko SVK

    Head-to-Head Record: Young leads 1-0

    When: Third match after 11:00 am at Court 6

    American Donald Young had to go the distance on his first round match here at the Australian Open.

    The match that started Young's big run at last year's US Open, was a straight sets win over his next opponent here, Solvakia's Lukas Lacko.

    Lacko cruised through the qualifying and came from two sets down to upset Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic, the 28th seed.

    Young should win this match, but it should be a closer one if Lacko continues to perform like he has done so far.

    The reward for the winner? A possible third round match with the second seed, Rafael Nadal.

Philipp Kohlschreiber GER

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    First Round Result: d. Juan Monaco ARG (23), 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-0

    Second Round Opponent: Pere Riba ESP

    Head-to-Head Record: First meeting

    When: 11:00 am at Court 8

    Philipp Kohlschreiber had to go five sets to upset the 23rd seed, Argentina's Juan Monaco.

    He was decent enough to provide Monaco with a bagel-to-go in the final set as a parting gift.

    Twice, Kohlschreiber has reached the fourth round here, and has a great shot at reaching the third round should he defeat Spain's Pere Riba.

    In Riba, Kohlschreiber will find a very similar opponent to Monaco, but not as dangerous.

    His chances are great on passing to the third round, where he will likely face American Mardy Fish.

David Nalbandian ARG

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    First Round Result: d. Jarko Nieminen FIN, 6-4, 4-2 ret.

    Second Round Opponent: John Isner USA

    Head-to-Head Record: Nalbandian leads 2-0

    When: Third match after 11:00 am at Margaret Court Arena

    One of the purest hitters in the game, Argentinian David Nalbandian is a tough draw for anyone.

    But at 29-years-old, Nalbandian has seen his best days gone by, and is down to 87th in the world rankings.

    But even when he is not at his best, he is still a very difficult player to beat, and his second round opponent, American John Isner, knows this very well.

    Isner is 0-2 against Nalbandian. But to Isner's defense, on the first meeting in 2010, Isner was ahead 5-4 when he retired.

    Then last year at the Heineken Open in Auckland, Nalbandian defeated Isner 6-4, 7-6(3)  in the quarterfinals.

    Nalbandian is one of the best returners in the game, and that doesn't bode well with a big server like Isner. This will be a great match to watch.

    Whoever advances will face the winner between Spain's Feliciano Lopez, 18th seed, and Italy's Flavio Cipolla.

Tommy Haas GER

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    First Round Result: d. Denis Kudla USA, 7-6, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5

    Second Round Opponent: Rafael Nadal ESP (2)

    Head-to-Head Record: Nadal leads 4-0

    When: Third match at Rod Laver Arena, after 11:00 am

    Veteran Tommy Haas is a gifted tennis player. Unfortunately has been battling juries during the past two years, which has kept him out of a lot of tournaments.

    Haas is a former world No. 2 players and a semifinalist here at the Australian Open, three times.

    He had to withdraw in the second round at the Brisbane International tournament due to a calf injury, and his participation here was questionable.

    But he showed up and defeated American Denis Kudla, showing no ill effects from his injury.

    Now, he will face Rafael Nadal in the second round. Nadal has beaten him all four times they have played.

    But Nadal is being hampered by a knee injury, and Haas is a player that can test Nadal's knee to full capacity.

    It will be an interesting match to watch, as Haas will try to take advantage of any weakness he might perceive in Nadal's armor.

Bernard Tomic AUS

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    First Round Result: d. Fernando Verdasco ESP (22), 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5

    Second Round Opponent: Sam Querrey USA

    Head-to-Head Record: First meeting

    When: 7:00 PM at Rod Laver Arena

    The new local fan favorite is 19-year-old Bernard Tomic.

    His great come from two sets down victory over 22nd seed, Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the opening round, has everyone down under buzzing.

    He showed great determination and resiliency in that match, which should help his metal toughness down the road.

    His quest to reach the third round for the second year in a row, continues with a match against American Sam Querrey, who should not be as tough a match as Verdasco was.

    Tomic drew Verdasco in the first round, where he had all the pressure of playing his opening match, in front of the home crown  at Rod Laver Arena.

    He will be now in prime time, at the same place of his big win.

    He will continue to ride the support of the very vocal and loud home crowd, and should get through to the third round.

    There he will likely meet a very tough opponent in Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov, the 13th seed.