NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
I’m on the road this weekend, and was scolded on the plane yesterday morning for peeking at the Australian Open draw on my iPhone too close to take off. Sigh. I had to wait until I landed to log back in, and immediately started taking notes on the back of my boarding pass. Combing through draws always feels pleasantly mathematical to me, the pre-calculus drop out, and – in the way it creates order in the chaotic tennis universe – I guess it is.
Numbers wise it’s all about the Big Four these days – but we keep looking for new equations and new solutions to the Major question.
Did I mention that I’m really no good at math? I honestly have no idea who will win this, but here are some of my scribbles and figures.
TOP QUARTER (Djokovic)
This belongs to Djokovic, with Ferrer the quarterfinal seed. Roddick (seeded a lowly 15) and Milos Raonic are in this quarter, and could make for some lively action in the first week. Let’s take a moment to pity Roddick, here, he has Haase in the first round, Hewitt in the second and Raonic in the third. All that to get to Djokovic in the fourth. Tipsarevic and Auckland champ David Ferrer are in the bottom of this quarter, with Gasquet and Youzhny hoping to provide some early round fireworks.
Look out for: Mahut vs. Stepanek in an old school first round. Chela vs. Russell in a scrappy one. Youzhny vs. Gasquet in a second round battle of sweet one-handers. Tipsarevic vs. Ferrer in the a 4th round match of the Super Underdogs.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images via Daylife
SECOND QUARTER (Murray/Tsonga)
Ivan Lendl’s going to have to prove himself in the first week, as his protoge Andy Murray faces some tricky early round match ups. This is called doin’ it the Hard Way, son. We’re talking a first round vs. American Ryan Harrison, a third round vs. Troicki or Gulbis and then, as a special treat, a fourth round vs. Gael Monfils, who has been in terrific form so far this year. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is his quarterfinal seed, and a man many commentators are starting to favor over Murray for a Major title.
PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
THIRD QUARTER (Federer)
Roger’s draw is unsettling, but not completely terrifying. If I was less worried about Roger’s injury (which he’s recently downgraded from worrying and scary to “normal”), I’d actually call it interesting. Potential landmines include Ivo Karlovic in the third round and then a promising potpourri of up-and-comer competition in the round of 16 – a mini-section that includes 13th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, Bernard Tomic and Sam Querrey. His seeded quarterfinal is Mardy Fish, though Sydney finalist Juan Martin del Potro, seeded 11th, is more likely and more dangerous to Roger’s chances of winning the title.
Look out for: Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Juan Monaco in the first round, Fish vs. Del Potro in the fourth, Kooyong champ Tomic vs. Verdasco in the first, Federer vs. Dolgopolov in the Round of 16.
FOURTH QUARTER (Nadal)
I feel like every Major, I say Rafa’s got a tough draw and every major he pushes to the semifinals in commanding style. This time around, I don’t think Rafa’s early round matches are all that ominous. But they’re still pretty interesting, take Tommy Haas as a potential second round match-up and Donald Young as a possible third round opponent (perhaps that’s only intriguing to American fans.) The match I’m really looking forward to is his possible Round of 16 vs. John Isner. David Nalbandian is in the mix (a possible second round for Isner) for some added spice. Things do get a little uncomfortable for Rafa in the quarters, where Berdych awaits. Sydney champ Marcos Baghdatis is the dark horse pick in Berdych’s section.
Look out for: Chardy vs. Dimitrov in the first and some great second rounders including: Dimitrov vs. Almagro (go one-handers!), Rochus vs. Berdych, Baghdatis vs. Wawrinka and Isner vs. Nalbandian.
THE SEEDED QUARTERFINALS: Djokovic vs. Ferrer, Murray vs. Tsonga, Fish vs. Federer, Berdych vs. Nadal
THE SEEDED SEMIFINALS: Djokovic vs. Murray, Federer vs. Nadal
So who’s going to win?
Note – I’m studying the women’s draw on my way up the mountain today. Maybe the high altitutde will bring on some epiphanies! This one’s going to be near impossible to call.