Roger Federer: 10 Players Who Could Knock Him Out of the 2011 Australian Open

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2011

Roger Federer: 10 Players Who Could Knock Him Out of the 2011 Australian Open

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    The name Roger Federer has been synonymous with excellent tennis for a while now. Nothing about that has changed since last January except for the fact that he's now the No. 2 seed in the field, thanks to a dominant 2010 season from Rafael Nadal. 

    Regardless, Federer is the man to beat in the 2011 Australian Open. The bullseye is always squarely affixed to the back of the defending champion and this year that happens to be the Swiss Maestro. 

    Federer has proven to be quite adept at winning Grand Slams. He does have the career record at 16 and counting, four of which have been won in Melbourne on the Plexicushion Prestige. 

    The Fed Express may be derailed this year by a very strong field. Nadal, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver did so 41 years ago to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time. 

    Without further ado, read on for the 10 players that could prevent Federer from beginning his 2010 Grand Slam season with a second-straight Australian Open title. 

Sam Querrey

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    Roger Federer will without a doubt advance to the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open.

    There, he'll most likely face either Mardy Fish or Sam Querrey. Personally, I believe that the 18th-seeded Querrey is the better player and will be the man most up to the task of knocking off the Swiss tennis giant. 

    Querrey has yet to beat Federer at any point in his career, falling both times the two have met. 

    However, he does possess a monstrous serve and his 6'6" frame generates a ton of power. 

    If he plays the match of his life and Federer slips up a bit, there's a slight chance we could see a huge upset. 

    While unlikely, it is possible. 

Stanislas Wawrinka

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    A couple years back, I played ESPN's Streak for the Cash. If you haven't played it, it's a fantasy game where you pick what are essentially toss-ups and try to build a streak of correct picks. Back at the time of the story I'm telling, if you picked 25 games right in a row, you would win a million dollars. 

    To this day, I still remember that Stanislas Wawrinka and John Isner were matched up in a contest where I had to pick who would record the most aces. I don't remember what tournament it was, but I do know that I picked Isner. 

    Wawrinka made Isner whiff one time more and my streak of 19 ended. 

    Would I have gotten to 25? Probably not, but I still hold a grudge against Wawrinka. 

    That said, I don't begrudge him enough to discount his chances of upsetting The Fed Express.

    He's the No. 19 seed and possesses the power and skill to knock of Federer if he's on top of his game. It would be a huge upset, but once again it is a tiny possibility. 

Gael Monfils

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    The Frenchman is currently ranked 12th in the world and has insane speed and athletic ability. 

    Now, why would I say that a player who's never advanced past the fourth round of the Australian Open could knock of the defending champion and one of the best players in the history of the game?

    Well, Gael Monfils is the last man to defeat Roger Federer in a tournament. 

    He knocked out the Swiss Maestro in the ATP Paris 2010 semifinals at the end of last year. Sure he has five losses in his five other attempts at beating the No. 2 player in the world, but the one victory proves that it can be done. 

Marin Cilic

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    Marin Cilic has been somewhat of an underachiever during his tennis career. 

    However, his best surface is the one in play in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Just last year he advanced to the semifinals. 

    In 2011, Cilic would have to upset Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, but if he did that, he would most likely be able to advance all the way to a matchup with Federer in the finals. 

    Cilic may not be as skilled as Federer, but he's a big power-hitter and could pose a problem if he's on top of his game. 

Nikolay Davydenko

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    Just last weekend at Doha, Nikolay Davydenko took down Rafael Nadal before eventually falling to Roger Federer, but that just proves that he has the game to compete with the world's best. 

    Sure, Nadal was sick and not at the top of his game, but a win is a win. 

    Davydenko was on fire last year at the Australian Open and may just really love playing there. 

    He's beaten Federer twice before in 17 tries. To get his third victory he'd have to use his powerful forehand and knack for angles to keep Federer on the run. 

Juan Martin Del Potro

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    I have to be crazy right?

    Why else would I put the No. 259 player in the world on this list? Especially when he's missed much of the last calendar year with an injury, is still recovering and recently lost to Florian Mayer?

    Well, Del Potro is one of only two players in the last five years to win a Grand Slam without the last name Nadal or Federer. 

    No player in their right mind wants to face Del Potro because he has as much ability as any player on tour. 

    If he gets going again, he could easily give the top seeds a challenge. 

Andy Murray

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    Even though he's slipped in the rankings to No. 5, Andy Murray still can play with each and every man ahead of him.

    Yes, this does hold true when Roger Federer is involved. Murray has taken out Federer eight times in 14 attempts, but not of the wins have come in Grand Slams. 

    Murray is known as a player who succumbs to pressure. He should have multiple Grand Slams by now, but his trophy shelf is still devoid of any of the big prizes. 

    Still, the fact that he can beat Federer in a non-Grand Slam means that he should be able to do so in the Australian Open. 

Novak Djokovic

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    The third best player in the tennis world absolutely has a chance to score an upset win over the No. 2 player. 

    Novak Djokovic, while known for his antics on and off the court, particularly his imitations, is also a wonderful tennis player. He's even won this tournament before. 

    Most recently, Djokovic lost a tough, hard-fought match against Rafael Nadal in the finals of the U.S. Open after taking out Roger Federer. 

    Could we see a repeat happen? 

Robin Soderling

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    The No. 4 seed in the tournament will have to overcome a likely quarterfinal match with Andy Murray, which will be quite difficult. 

    If he can do that, a semifinal matchup with Rafael Nadal would follow and then another one against Roger Federer for all the marbles. This of course, assumes that all goes to plan. 

    Soderling has plenty of power and a monstrous serve, both of which will play to his advantage in the heat of Australia. 

    He's been a streak-killer in recent years, first ending Rafael Nadal's 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros and then defeating Roger Federer to end his run of 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals. 

    Soderling could very well end Nadal's Grand Slam victories streak and put an end to Federer's back-to-back Australian Open hopes. 

Rafael Nadal

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    It's what we all want to see: another epic showdown between the two top tennis players in the world. 

    Rafael Nadal, more than anyone else, is fully capable of beating Roger Federer. 

    In case you forgot, Nadal is the No. 1 ranked player and has won the last three Grand Slam titles. Winning the Australian Open would give him his fourth straight title, making him the first player since Rod Laver to lay claim to all four Grand Slams at the same time. 

    Nothing more needs to be said.