Australian Open 2013 Predictions: Under-the-Radar Players Set to Make a Deep Run

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 30:  Nikolay Davydenko of Russia returns a shot against Mardy Fish of the United States during their men's singles second round match on Day Four of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2012 in the Flushing neigborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Nikolay Davydenko is one name that 2013 Australian Open fans will want to keep in mind. 

The 31-year-old Russian made four appearances in the Aussie Open quarterfinals from 2005 to 2010, and looks to be back on track after two lackluster campaigns in 2011 and 2012, which included two first-round exits from the tennis season's first Grand Slam.

Davydenko reached the final of the ATP Qatar Open this past week, marking the first time in two years that the veteran has reached the final of a hard court tournament.

But Davydenko isn't the only underrated player worthy of some attention in Australia. Let's take a look at three under-the-radar players set to make a deep run Down Under this January.


Richard Gasquet

The 26-year-old French star hasn't been a contender during the second week of a Slam since Wimbledon in 2007, when he made a miraculous run to the semifinals.

However, Gasquet is due for a strong performance in Melbourne this January. He reached the fourth round of all four major tournaments in 2012 before losing, proving to be consistent if nothing else. 

The 2012 Thailand Open champion won 42 singles matches last year, the most he's won since his stellar 2007 campaign. And just days ago, Gasquet won the ATP Qatar Open in preparation for this year's Aussie Open.  

He's made it to the Round of 16 of the Australian Open three times in the last six years, including in 2012 when he lost to David Ferrer in straight sets to miss out on his first appearance in the quarterfinals Down Under. 

I would say he's ready to make a nice run in Melbourne.


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 

Twenty-one-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had a tough year in 2012, but she looks set to rebound quite nicely in 2013.

After winning just 21 of her 46 singles matches last year, Pavlyuchenkova made a run all the way to the final of the WTA Brisbane International this past week, coming up short in a straight-sets loss to five-time Aussie Open champ Serena Williams.

Despite the loss, the Russian should still be considered a dark horse at this year's season-opening Grand Slam. After all, she took down Aussie Open contenders Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber in the earlier rounds at Brisbane. 

Granted the stakes weren't as high, but the confidence gained from those matches is sure to stick around in Melbourne.


Alexandr Dolgopolov

Despite losing in the quarterfinals at Brisbane last week, Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov is ready to make a deep run in Melbourne this month. 

The 24-year-old won the 2012 Citi Open in Washington, DC this past summer, and had some solid performances in the two hard-court Slams in Australia and New York in 2012, reaching the third round of both the Australian Open and U.S. Open.

Dolgopolov's unorthodox style of play, highlighted by his last-second shots should give him an advantage in the earlier rounds and certainly trouble the rest of the field as the tournament wears on.

Before exiting in the third round Down Under a year ago, Dolgopolov earned a quarterfinal berth at the 2011 Aussie Open. He will certainly have an excellent shot to get back to the quarters given his unique style and young legs. 


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