There are those who shout foul, those who swear at the tennis gods, and those who shrug their shoulders as if to say “it was ever thus.” In the end, the draw comes down to a toss of the dice.
Sometimes, though, those dice seem weighted towards one quarter of the draw, or towards the top or the bottom of the draw.
So did the tennis gods tamper with the dice for the men in the Australian Open? Well it depends who you ask—or rather, who you favor.
Take these views of the Fanhouse UK website on Murray’s, Nadal’s and Federer’s fortunes:
“In truth, the Scot could barely have wished for a better draw.”
“As World No. 1, Nadal could have expected a less tricky path to the final than he has been handed.”
“Federer, meanwhile, will be happier with the cards he has been dealt.”
Now look at those on Busted Racquet:
“Flip on the cruise control, Rafa. The path for Rafael Nadal to the semis is the best he could have hoped for.”
“Fed has made it to the quarters in 27 straight majors. Could this be the one that trips him up?”
And in Scotland’s Daily Record:
“Tough draw for Andy Murray as Soderling and Nadal lie in wait en route to final.”
Just think for a moment about that last headline.
Doesn’t every player have a couple of top seeds like Nadal or Federer, Murray or Djokovic, Robin Soderling or Andy Roddick lying in wait “en route to the final”?
So let’s take a 'glass half full' and a 'glass half empty' view of each of the four favorites: Federer and Nadal, with barely a cigarette paper between them in the odds, and the slightly longer shots of Murray and Djokovic, also neck-and-neck with each other.