Well, 2013 is here and we begin with Rafael Nadal still on the sidelines, Bernard Tomic back in Aussie good graces (after winning his first ever tile in Sydney), and Ferrer holding up yet another trophy (after winning his third straight title in Auckland.) Roger is raring to go, at least with Sponge Bob, and the headlines are as good as written for 2013 champ apparent Serena Williams.
As for team Freaky, our newborn addition has us doing everything one handed – including blogging. So while we look forward to the late night feedings/Aussie Open viewings, we’re keeping our draw preview brief. Here’s what our sleep-deprived minds have come up with looking forward to the first Major of the year.
2013 MEN’S SINGLES DRAW:
Seeded Quarterfinals (top to bottom): Djokovic vs. Berdych, Ferrer vs. Tipsarevic, Del Potro vs. Murray, Tsonga vs. Federer
Top Half Sketch:I’m pretending not to be a biased Fed fan when I look at this draw. Perhaps the other top guys do have it as rough as he does. Defending champ Novak Djokovic has a tricky pathy to the final: You never know what you will get with Paul-Henri Mathieu (his first round match,) and then there’s a tasty second round prospect in Ryan Harrison. He could face anyone from Feliciano Lopez to countryman Troicki to scary Stepanek in the third round and then capable players such as Wawrinka or Querrey or Brian Baker (go USA underdogs!) in the Round of Sixteen. Berdych is an always scary prospect for the quarterfinals and then Nole faces Ferrer, ever dogged, ever looking for that well-deserved upset in the semis. Okay, I can admit that Nole’s draw is no cake walk.
Look out for: Stepanek vs. Troicki, Verdasco vs. Melzer, Bolelli vs. Janowicz (last season’s surprise Paris Masters finalist), Benneteau vs. Dimitrov and Hewitt vs. Tipsarevic in the first round. Querrey vs. Brian Baker , Monaco vs. Anderson, Ferrer vs. Karlovic in the second round and Ferrer vs. Baghdatis in the third.
I always find Grigor Dimitrov entertaining and was happy to see him make the Brisbane final vs. Murray. His comment after the final sets the tone for 2013 – who’s going to shake things up? Grigor thinks he can: telling the press after Brisband final: “Fear?” he said. “Why fear? Why do I have to feel intimidated? I want to play them (the top guys). I want to play them all. There’s nothing better than to play against these guys and do the best you can against them. Eventually, long-term, if you want to be good you’re going to play them almost every week.”
So he’s my one to watch in this half, and not just because he has a one handed back hand.
Bottom Half Sketch: So is this Murray’s or Federer’s half? Or does it belong to 2013’s biggest threat to the status quo: Juan Martin Del Potro. At least Roger is spared facing the Argentine in the quarters – that’s Murray’s challenge – and instead if faced with the friendlier prospect of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in that round. But Roger has plenty of challenges before the second weekend – there’s Davydenko in the second round, the “unstoppable” Tomic in the third (okay, I’m looking forward to that one) and then perhaps Raonic or this year’s Auckland finalist, Kohlschreiber in the Round of 16. Let’s hope Roger’s ready to go, despite not playing a warm up yet this year.
Look out for: Some very entertaining tennis, given the number of great lesser ranked players hanging around that are always good for an upset. The unseeded Gael Monfils plays Dolgopolov in the first round, the winner of that one could play Simon in the third round and then Murray in the round of 16. Tsonga plays his friend and flashy countryman Michael Llodra in the first round. Tommy Haas and Richard Gasquet are also in Tsonga’s section and could play each other in a pretty, one-handed third round match. Then there’s the prospect of Raonic vs. Kohlschreiber in the third round.
Why does Roger’s draw have to be so darn entertaining?
2013 WOMEN’S DRAW
Seeded Quarterfinals: Victoria Azarenka vs. Sara Errani, Serena Williams vs. Petra Kvitova, Li Na vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber vs. Maria Sharapova.
Top Half Sketch: Of course No. 3 seed Serena goes into the Australian Open with top ranked confidence – she’s won this tournament every which way, and this year she goes in with a title (Brisbane) already under her belt. 2012 Aussie Open titlist Vika Azarenka withdrew from Brisbane prior to their scheduled clash in the semifinals – with a pedicure injury – and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after losing the final to Serena 6-2, 6-1, admitted: “I always feel like I don’t know how to play tennis when I play against you.”
Pavlyuchenkova and Azarenka are in the same section of the draw, destined for the quarterfinals (though Pavs could face a challenge from either Wozniacki or Lisicki in the 3rd round). Their seeded opponent for the semis? Serena Williams. Let’s hope Azarenka avoids the nail salons this week.
Look out for: Serena could play eighth seed Petra Kvitova in her quarterfinal match, except that Petra’s shown less than inspiring form so far this season, as her 1-6, 1-6 loss to Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of Sydney revealed. Kvitova has an equally challenging first round in Melbourne, drawing Francesca Schiavone. If she makes it past the veteran, she could get a series of up and comers with Laura Robson in the second round and Sloane Stephens in the third. This could make for some fun early round watching next week.
Bottom Half Sketch: While no one should ever doubt Maria Sharapova, who is the top seed in this half, I think this part of the draw may belong to Agnieszka Radwanska this time. The stylish, sneaky-good Pole has already won TWO titles this year – in Auckland (vs. Wickmayer) and in Sydney (where she double bageled Cibulkova in the final.) She’s also publicly laid out her goals for the year: winning majors and reaching No. 1. She’s obviously been eating her Wheaties during the off season and I’m finally starting to believe she really could make good on her goals. And her draw is favorable – Li Na is an unreliable 6th seed, and Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic are equally shaky, though highly seeded prospective opponents in her quarter.
Maria’s section, the bottom-most of the draw, contains a few more challenges. Maria could get Venus Williams in the third round and I think her prospective quarterfinal vs. Kerber could be one of the great matches of the tournament. Also look out for American young gun Madison Keys, who plays Australian Casey Dellacqua in the first round and could face the feisty Tamira Paszek in an entertaining second rounder. Bartoli, the ultimate spoiler, is in her quarter as well.