By Britwatch Team
- Roger Federer lands in Djokovic’s half of the draw
- Rafael Nadal set to encounter Stan Wawrinka
- Andy Murray starts against Alexander Zverev
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The men’s draw has been done for the forthcoming Australian Open, where Novak Djokovic will be aiming for a record sixth title in a little over two week’s time.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Top Quarter Predictions: Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori
Looking calm and collected, Djokovic did his media duties for the draw, strolling through Melbourne Park along with Serena Williams, holding the Norman Brookes trophy, before the discs were ceremoniously drawn from the trophy.
He will start against one of the ATP’s rising stars Hyeon Chung, but it will be a harsh lesson for the Korean, if his decimation of Rafael Nadal in Doha was anything to go by. It could be a challenge, but it is hard not to see him progress past his first seeded opposition in Andreas Seppi. The Italian famously hamstrung Roger Federer in the third round last year, but it is unlikely that lightning will strike twice.
His potential fourth round opponents are Ivo Karlovic or Gilles Simon if the seedings run to form, and it would be an immense surprise if he was not in the semi-final line-up.
Before that though, the other part of that quarter sees Jo-Wilfried Tsonga try and regain some of the form that took him to his one and only Grand Slam final so far, He will face some tough opposition in his section of the draw from Benoit Paire, but the expectation is that Kei Nishikori will prevail as Djokovic’s likely quarter-final opponent. After a promising start in Brisbane, a lacklustre performance against Bernard Tomic was a surprise, but he should have the game to come through the initial rounds. However, whether he can pull off the kind of Herculean feat of knocking Djokovic out at this stage is another matter.
Second Quarter Predictions: Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych
Federer winds up in possibly the worse half of the draw, but after the disappointment of a third round exit last year to Seppi he may well at east fancy his chances of defending last year’s points here. In a section heavy with qualifiers, his first seeded opposition is likely to be Grigor Dimitrov. The good news for the Bulgarian is that at last people seem to have come off this ridiculous ‘Baby Fed’ name tag. The bad news is that despite putting up some spirited opposition to a clearly below par Federer in Brisbane, he still shows no real signs of being able to raise his level to beat him. It could be a decent four-setter, but expect Federer to book his place in the fourth round where he can be expected to make mincemeat of either Dominic Thiem or David Goffin.
Potentially meeting him for a place in the quarter-finals could be Marin Cilic or Tomas Berdych. Both big clean hitters, the consistent Berdych could yet outwit Cilic. Nick Kyrgios is the only other seed that has the potential for a run, but to go from Hopman Cup winning hero to the villain of the piece again with his withdrawal in Kooyong, it is hard to see him getting past either of the big guys.
Third Quarter Predictions: Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka
Nadal may have gotten over (some of) his confidence issues that ailed him over 2015, although his drubbing in the Doha at the hands of Djokovic might have put a dent in that somewhat! It isn’t an easy start for him ether as he draws Fernando Verdasco who is capable of delivering an emotionally charged defeat to his compatriot. Heading towards him for the fourth round could be Kevin Anderson, if he can sort out his own season-starting injury woes. Perhaps he and Gael Monfils should have a small competition to see who can stay intact the longest.
The real spice will be the quarter-final match up. Milos Raonic impressed by finally embracing the all-court game we know he has, but could well come unstuck against Wawrinka by the time the fourth round rolls around. Either way it is not hard to see Wawrinka outhit Nadal to come out on top.
Bottom Quarter Predictions: David Ferrer, Andy Murray
Perennial gritty grinder Ferrer sits atop of the final quarter, and could be set to face a somewhat resurgent Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round, while Bernard Tomic eyes up a fourth round clash with second seed Murray.
Murray has felt good about his chances here but needs to overcome the biggest potential hurdle if he wants to lift his third Slam title, always assuming Murray junior does not make an early arrival.
It is a fair quarter for the Brit, and even allowing for Tomic having had a turn of fortune, his bizarre withdrawal in Sydney (while discussing his draw, no less) should see Murray comfortably though. However the prospect of a battle with Ferrer is anything but, although it would be difficult to see Murray lose to the Spaniard.
The top half of the men’s draw will start on Monday.
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