Australian Open 2012: 7 Bold Predictions for Week 2
The 2012 Australian Open has been quite entertaining thus far, and like all the first weeks of slams, headlines are being generated: Nadal's surprisingly good form, Serena and the comeback, Federer's announcing his hunger for more titles, Sorana Cirstea scoring the upset against Stosur and Fish's early exit.
You get the point.
And as usual, there are the highlighted favorites: Djokovic and Kvitova. You cannot ignore lurking dark horses like Tsonga, del Potro, Sharapova and Azarenka.
The following slides contain bold predictions for the latter week of the year's first Grand Slam for both the men and the women.
Upset: Gasquet to Defeat Ferrer
Coming off a win against Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela, world No. 5 David Ferrer will be looking to improve on his career-best Grand Slam result of getting to a semifinal.
In the round of 64, Ferrer survived a scare after he was taken to five sets by unseeded American prospect Ryan Sweeting.
This shaky play of the Spaniard's is begging for an upset.
And Richard Gasquet, in my opinion, is the man for that task. Gasquet has dropped only one set in the previous two rounds, and he upset No. 9 seeded Tipsarevic in the third round.
It's tough to tell what the dynamic would be in this match, because Gasquet is often erratic.
If he is at his best—consistent, in other words—he should be able to beat Ferrer in four, but if he isn't, he should have some trouble with Ferrer's rhythmic style.
An interesting match should see No. 17 seed Gasquet scoring the upset over Ferrer.
Upset: Li to Defeat Wozniacki
Were this match to take place, it would be in the quarterfinals.
Both women have won their matches with ease thus far. Wozniacki beat Monica Niculescu, Anna Tatishvili and Anastasia Rodionova without dropping a set.
However, the Chinese world No. 5 has not lost a set yet, either, with victories over Anabel Medina Garrigues, Olivia Rogowska and Ksenia Pervak.
The edge in this potential matchup would go to Na Li, and here is why.
First of all, Li is simply a better player under pressure, and while this remains a sort of stereotype against the Dane, there is a basis for that argument. In addition, Li only had to play three games against Spaniard Medina Garrigues, who retired, and will probably be more refreshed than Wozniacki.
The factors of rest and pressure will sway this match toward Li.
Upset: Tomic to Defeat Federer
As 19-year-old Bernard Tomic prepares to battle his boyhood hero in what will undoubtedly be a physical match, Roger Federer must be looking at his opponent like just another young prospect, as he's seen so many in his long career.
Federer hasn't dropped a set yet, while the young Australian has already dropped five. However, Tomic has played much tougher opponents in Verdasco, Querrey and Dolgopolov—versus Roger's victories against Karlovic, Beck and Alexander Kudryavtsev.
As one commentator nicely put it, Tomic likes to "put opponents to sleep", and then before they know it, kill them off.
In addition, I don't think the Swiss Maestro's game is in a great place at this point in time—age has visibly taken a toll on the man widely considered the greatest of all time.
Though tiredness could be a hindering factor for Tomic, I think he will prevail in front of his home crowd and score the biggest upset of the tournament.
Sharapova Makes the Final...
Maria Sharapova has clawed her way back onto the tennis scene.
After putting on an impressive show at Wimbledon, the Russian (who now seems more American than Russian), drew some attention.
And so far this tournament, she has been fantastic.
She started out by conceding only one game to one of the best unseeded women in the draw, Gisela Dulko, and followed up by only dropping a game against American Julie Hampton. After that, she faced Angelique Kerber, who made the US Open semifinals ranked at No. 93.
Proceeding to beat the German 6-1, 6-2, Sharapova is proving to be a very serious contender for the title and her fourth Grand Slam.
I am projecting a path for her to reach the final.
...And Loses to Azarenka
The way she's playing, I don't see anyone beating Victoria Azarenka.
In her third-round match against Mona Barthel of Germany, the Belorussian was upset about some calls, and even had an angry outburst.
Nonetheless, she managed to shut those things out of her mind, and proceeded to win 6-2, 6-4.
In her previous two matches, she crushed Casey Dellacqua and Heather Watson of Great Britain, dropping an astonishing total of just one game in each match.
Azarenka is playing with a purpose, hitting harder than ever before, moving extremely well and her mind is in the right place (apart from the outburst, of course).
If my prediction of her and Maria Sharapova meeting in the final is, in fact, correct, it will be a great match which I think will go to three.
Azarenka is the one to beat.
Nadal Makes the Final...
However, this tournament, Nadal is playing extremely well.
As usual, he is turning defense into attack, and in Melbourne, he seems to be very comfortable doing both those things. His serve, which is normally sub-par, is getting harder and winning him free points. Thus, his matches are shorter, which is precisely what the Spaniard wants.
Rafa hasn't dropped a set yet, as he has faced American Alex Kuznetsov, German Tommy Haas and Slovakian, Lukas Lacko.
His next match against Lopez could prove tricky, but I think he will overcome all obstacles en route to the final.
There is, however, one man who will beat him.
...and Loses to Tsonga
You though I was going to say Novak Djokovic.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is an absolute beast. He is capable of beating any player in the world on his day. The once-erratic Frenchman has matured greatly, and now he knows not to lose his temper.
Opponents fear his hard, clean hits.
Here's my prediction: In the quarters, he will beat Murray in straight sets. In the semis, he will beat Djokovic in five, and in the final against Rafa, he will win in four.
If he and Rafa face in the final, Tsonga will win.
As proven countless times before by countless people, using power hurts Nadal so much. If Tsonga can beat him with pace and get inside his head, I don't see why the Frenchman cannot capture his first Grand Slam title.
So to sum it all up, I have Azarenka and Tsonga—both dark horses—winning the 2012 Australian Open, which may seem out there, but that's my prediction.
Please leave your own predictions, as well as comments and feedback.
NOTE: Some of these things might take place on Sunday (Australian time), rather than in Week 2.
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