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Australian Open 2012: Men's Draw Analysis

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federer_and_nadalNovak Djokovic came in to Australia last year very much the hunter. This year things have changed and the Serb has a giant sized bull's eye painted bright on his chest. It's not easy though being the hunted. It takes nerve to not wilt under the pressure. The bulls-eye on the chest may be a privilege but it is a burden. Failure isn't an option anymore and every single ATP player out there is gunning for his scalp. Leading the charge and seeing red is Spanish Bull, Rafael Nadal who last year was the lead story coming into Australia. A premature exit here at the hands of Ferrer and six subsequent losses to Djokovic, all in finals, has left the Spaniard licking his wounds and straining every sinew to rejoin the winners circle. Roger Federer who was frankly the only to trouble the Djoker at his best last season carries a 20 match winning streak into the Open. The thus far eternal bridesmaid Andy Murray signalled his intentions loud and clear by hiring 8 slam winner Ivan Lendl as coach in an attempt to provide himself that cutting edge at the business end of the slams. With Tsonga marrying his brilliance with a gameplan and consistency, the uber-consistent Ferrer, the youngsters – Raonic, Dolgopolov, Tomic eager for their big breakthroughs and the veterans eager for a last hurrah, the competition is tough and the draw assumes a huge importance for all involved. Without further ado, let us then delve into the draw and glean what we can.

Quarter 1:

Novak Djokovic’s quarter opens against Lorenzi and faces little early threat in his title defence. Stepanek is a potentially tricky opponent he could face in round 3 before his first real test coming in a prospective 4th round against one of two big servers – either tyro Milos Raonic or veteran Andy Roddick. The bottom half of the quarter has tireless David Ferrer, Serb Janko Tipsarevic and the exquisite backhand of Richard Gasquet to watch out for.

Quarterfinal: Djokovic v Ferrer

Semifinalist: Djokovic

Quarter 2:

The second quarter is chockfull of Frenchmen but is headlined by a Scot. Andy Murray opens against youngster Ryan Harrison and should make his way through to a 4th round clash against mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils. The bottom section of this half is bookended by the two top Frenchmen Tsonga & Simon. Tsonga faces a relatively straightforward run to the 4th round while Simon will probably face a bruising encounter against Kei Nishikori as he attempts to keep his date with his compatriot. First round match to watch is the explosive encounter between Llodra and Ernests Gulbis, while Troicki could yet prove to be a spoiler for someone in the draw.

Quarterfinal: Murray v Tsonga

Semifinalist: Murray

Quarter 3:

Roger Federer faces an interesting path in his quest to regain a slam crown. After opening against a qualifier, the 3rd seed could be forced out of 2nd gear against Melzer or Karlovic in round 3 before an awkward encounter against either of unorthodox young guns Dolgopolov or Tomic. The other section of this quarter is bookended by resurgent Mardy Fish and the one man no one wants in his section Juan Martin Del Potro. Neither man faces an obvious killer threat and should engage in a powerful shootout in the 4th round.

Quarterfinal: Federer v Del Potro

Semifinalist: Federer

Quarter 4:

Rafael Nadal will look at his draw and heave a sigh of relief. He opens against a qualifier and should cruise through into the 4th round. Once there he could face big serving John Isner who ran him oh so close at the French last year. Tomas Berdych, Nicolas Almagro & Stanislas Wawrinka will scrap for the right to play Nadal in the quarters with Grigor Dimitrov and Marcos Baghdatis looking to make a break through and a comeback respectively.

Quarterfinal: Nadal v Berdych

Semifinalist: Nadal

Predictions:

Semifinal 1: Djokovic v Murray

Semifinal 2: Nadal v Federer

Final: Djokovic v Nadal

 

For TheSportsCampus' detailed Womens Draw Analysis click here

File Photograph Copyright: Madrid Masters