2010 Australian Open Men's Quarters: Whose Name Will Be On The Trophy?

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2010 Australian Open Men's Quarters: Whose Name Will Be On The Trophy?
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There is certainly a lot to whet the appetite in this opening Grand Slam of the year, and judging from the intense preparations of all the top players, the competition will be fierce from the word go. Even before the Christmas presents were open, most had headed to training camps or tournaments in hot climates to get used to the punishing heat of Melbourne.

But the crystal-ball is even more misty than ever, this year, for all sorts of reasons.

There are old hands who are turning head-to-head records upside down: Nikolay Davydenko, for example, has notched up two consecutive wins over Roger Federer.

There are promising new kids on the block suddenly rising to the challenge of the Grand Slams: Juan Martin Del Potro won his first at Flushing Meadows; Robin Soderling made the final in Paris.

Injury cut a swathe through the top of the rankings: first Federer took time out, then Rafael Nadal disappeared from two Grand Slams with tendinitis.

Meanwhile some oldies-but-goldies have attacked the Tour and the rankings with renewed vigor: Andy Roddick almost won Wimbledon; Tommy Haas celebrated victories over  Novak Djokovic, a semi-final at Wimbledon, and a 60-place jump in the rankings.

JA Allen (JA), Marianne Bevis (MB) and Rajat Jain (RJ), try to take all this into account in our analysis and predictions for the men’s draw.

Click here to see our women’s predictions.

 

Roger Federer’s First Quarter

Not an easy draw—possibly the worst of the four—for the top seed. Even the ATP home page calls it “daunting.” A first round match-up against Igor Andreev, a gnat’s whisker outside the seedings, would not be the top of any player’s list.

Another dangerous non-seed and former finalist is Marcos Baghdatis. Deeper into the draw is Aussie favorite Lleyton Hewitt and, most dangerous of all, form player of the moment, Nikolay Davydenko. He, though, might have to contend with last year’s star performer, Fernando Verdasco, to make the quarters.

Best of first round matches

Roger Federer (1) vs. Igor Andreev —The Russian, at 36 in the rankings, is a tough first round opponent. He gave Federer an almighty scare in their last meeting, in the  fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2008. Andreev can produce a powerful game on hard courts, so Federer will need to come out with his B+ game at least. (Unanimous choice)

Also watch out for : Juan Monaco (30) vs. Ernests Gulbis (MB, RJ)

Best of second round matches

Carlos Moya vs. Nikolay Davydenko (6) —an unpredictable encounter between the big Spaniard and the more diminutive Russian. Both like to go for their shots but Moya is back after a season of injuries (including toe surgery). Davydenko will win, but it could be very attractive tennis. (MB, RJ)

Best of third round matches

Lleyton Hewitt (22) vs. Marcos Baghdatis —everyone’s favorite Greek Cypriot against everyone’s favorite Aussie, both with fast games and passion. They’ve just met in Sydney, with Baghdatis the winner. Over five sets, Hewitt is a tougher prospect: He got the better of Baghdatis over the full distance here last year. Could be one of the matches of the tournament. (Unanimous choice)

Best of fourth round matches

Fernando Verdasco (9) vs. Nikolay Davydenko (6) —after last year’s outstanding battle against Rafael Nadal in the semis here, Verdasco made his break-through into the top 10. He’s just won the Kooyong exho (beating Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Fernando Gonzalez), but Davydenko has been on fire, taking the WTF title and, in 2010, the scalps of Federer and Nadal. He also has a 6-1 advantage over Verdasco. Look out for some mighty forehands. (MB, JA)

Also watch out for: Roger Federer vs. Lleyton Hewitt (RJ)

 

Quarter-finalists: Federer vs. Davydenko (MB); Federer vs. Verdasco (JA)

Dark Horse: Marcos Baghdatis (MB, JA); Lleyton Hewitt (RJ)

First Quarter Winner: Roger Federer (Unanimous choice)

 

Novak Djokovic’s Second Quarter

It’s time for the 2008 champion to prove he’s not a one-hit-wonder. Things should be smooth sailing until the fourth round, when Djokovic could meet the powerful Mikhail Youzhny or the quicksilver Tommy Robredo. The bottom segment should be much more competitive. Tommy Haas caused Djokovic problems in 2009, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a barn-storming run here in 2008, and then there’s Soderling, the break-through man of 2009. For Djokovic, though, the heat may be his biggest opponent.

Best of first round matches

Mikhail Youzhny (20) vs. Richard Gasquet —the Russian has leapt up the rankings in the last six months, and ended 2009 with a flourish in Moscow and Valencia. He looked rusty in Doha, though, and the talented Gasquet is clearly revelling in his return to the courts after his ban. The Frenchman comes here as runner-up in Sydney, and with the potential to disrupt the big Youzhny game. (MB, RJ)

Best of second round matches

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) vs. Taylor Dent —this could be a true feast of all-court, fast-moving tennis. Dent continues to make his way back up the rankings after three years away with major surgery, and won two huge five-setters in the U.S. Open before meeting Andy Murray. Tsonga won some good matches in Kooyong this week, and has already proved he has the game for Melbourne. This could be fireworks. (MB, RJ)

Best of third round matches

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) vs. Tommy Haas —again Tsonga could encounter the all-court skills of a resilient come-back player. Both will attack with their big serves, sweeping backhands, and touch around the net. Tsonga got the better of Haas in Kooyong this week, but over five sets he will need to keep focused to ensure he stays on top of a fighting Haas. (MB, RJ)

Best of fourth round matches

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) vs. Robin Soderling (8) —Soderling could have a relatively easy run into this match compared with Tsonga (see above!). The Swede’s big, heavy game should suit Melbourne, and he will be confident after his performances last year and a first win over Federer at the Abu Dhabi exho this year. There is, though, a question mark over his elbow, which forced him to retire in Kooyong this week. He also went out in the first round in Chennai. (MB, JA)

Also watch out for : Tommy Haas (18) vs. Robin Soderling (8) (RJ)

 

Quarter-finalists: Djokovic vs. Soderling (MB)

Dark Horse: Richard Gasquet (Unanimous choice)

Second Quarter Winner: Djokovic (MB, JA); Soderling (RJ)

 

Juan Martin Del Potro’s Third Quarter

Del Potro is the newest Grand Slam winner on the Tour, and will be looking to build on the kudos and self-belief that came from his five-set victory over Federer in that U.S Open. He proved he is here to stay by beating Federer again at WTF, and reaching the finals. It’s a relatively clear run to the fourth round, where he could meet the blossoming Marin Cilic. In the top section, an in-form Roddick has a similarly clear run to a potential meeting with the firy Fernando Gonzalez.

Best of first round matches

James Blake vs. Arnaud Clement —Blake is at his lowest ranking in over four years. As an unseeded player, he is fortunate only to meet world No. 67, but the Frenchman’s trajectory is upwards, and he beat a seed in every round on his way to the final in Auckland this week. Clement took a number of big scalps during the late indoor season of 2009, and is a quick and clever shot-maker. Blake will need to find some of his lost form and confidence to advance. (MB)

Also watch out for: Marin Cilic (14) vs. Fabrice Santoro (RJ)

Best of second round matches

Feliciano Lopez vs. Sam Querrey (25) —if the Spaniard is playing his A game, he could throw out the rhythm of the towering American. Their only previous match-ups—both wins for Lopez—have, predictably, needed tie-breakers, including their Miami meet last year. Expect some big shot-making and net attacking, and a possible upset of a seed. (MB)

Best of third round matches

Andy Roddick (7) vs. Sam Querrey (25 )—a battle of the American big serves. Although Querrey won their last match in Cincinnati (in two tie-breakers), Roddick had a confidence-boosting 2009 and is fresh back after his autumn injury: He’s just won the Brisbane title. If his serve holds up well, he should have the beating of his compatriot, but it will be sizzling stuff. (MB, RJ)

Also watch out for : Tomas Berdych (21) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (11) (MB, JA)

Best of fourth round matches

Juan Martin Del Potro (4) vs Marin Cilic (14) —they’ve met twice, both in Slams last year and at similar stages of the draw: the U.S and the Australian. Both went to Del Potro in four sets. This year, Del Potro has that extra stature from winning a Slam, but Cilic won in Chennai, and showed just what potential he has in beating Murray at Flushing. If the Cilic game comes together again, he has the variety to break up the Del Potro rhythm. Could well be a five-setter. (Unanimous choice)

 

Quarter-finalists : Roddick vs. Cilic (MB)

Dark Horse : Fernando Gonzalez (MB, JA); Sam Querrey (RJ)

Third Quarter Winner : Roddick (MB); Del Potro (JA); Cilic (RJ)

 

Rafael Nadal’s Fourth Quarter

Few will forget the emotional and physical roller-coaster that ended in victory for Nadal over Federer on the Spaniard’s most challenging surface. He has a pretty tough quarter to fight through, with one of the tournament favourites, Andy Murray, at the top. Stepanek continues to impress, and is a danger in any draw, as is Gael Monfils.

Nadal’s return from injury and a disappointing end of season suggests he is approaching his best again—he won the exho in Abu Dhabi and reached the Doha final. His retooled game may not be quite ready to defend his title, though.

Best of first round matches

Ivo Karlovic vs. Radek Stepanek (13) —in one of the most compelling first round match-ups, people will be hoping for a repeat of their extraordinary rubber in last year’s Davis Cup: four tie-breakers followed by a 16-14 fifth set and a win for Stepanek. That was on clay. Both have games that thrive on hard courts, but Karlovic’s service will need to be perfectly grooved to beat a Stepanek in the best form of his life. He only just lost, again tie-breaks, to Roddick in the Brisbane final. (MB, RJ)

Best of second round matches

Phillip Kohlschreiber (27) vs. John Isner —a very tight match-up, this one, and a real contrast in style. Isner is the highest non-seed, and comes here as the first first-time winner on the tour this year in Auckland. Almost a foot taller than Kohlschreiber, his serve is his big weapon, doubly so in the heat of Melbourne. The German will need to use all his guile and skill, slicing the ball to keep it low and slow, to contain the fast-improving American. (MB)

Best of third round matches

David Ferrer (17) vs. Gael Monfils (12) —only the second meeting for the contrasting games of the short Ferrer and 6’4” Monfils. When the Frenchman is good, he’s very, very good, but the heat and hard courts are not his preferred choices, and Ferrer is notoriously tough to wear down, whatever the conditions. He’s also started to inject some flat drives into his base-line game. Monfils will need to focus and work hard to win this one. (MB)

Also watch out for: John Isner vs. Rafael Nadal (2) (JA)

Best of fourth round matches

Andy Murray (5) vs. Gael Monfils (12 )—again, if Monfils brings his best game to court (and his extrovert persona), he will disrupt the focus of Murray. The Scot will have the easier run to this round so should be ready to counter and contain whatever is thrown at him. There could be some stunning rallies and unparalleled retrieving and returns-of-serve in this one. (JA, RJ)

Also watch out for: Radek Stepanek (13) vs. Rafael Nadal (2) (MB)

 

Quarter-finalists : Nadal vs. Murray (Unanimous choice)

Dark Horse: Radek Stepanek (MB); John Isner (JA); Gael Monfils (RJ)

Fourth Quarter Winner : Murray (MB, JA); Nadal (RJ)

 

2010 Australian Open Results

Top Half Semi-finalists

Federer vs. Djokovic (MB, JA)

Federer vs. Soderling (RJ)

 

Bottom Half Semi-finalists

Roddick vs. Murray (MB)

Del Potro vs. Murray (JA)

Cilic vs. Nadal (RJ)

 

Finalists

Federer vs Murray (MB, JA)

Soderling vs Cilic (RJ)

 

Winner

Murray (MB)

Federer (JA)

Soderling (RJ)

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