Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 AUS OPEN: Men's and Women's Draw Analyzed!

Woo hoo! The 2016 grand slam tennis season is about to begin. The Australian Open is the first major tournament of the year and last year's champions, Novak Djokovic (d. Andy Murray) and Serena Williams (d. Maria Sharapova) are currently (still!) the #1 players in the world, and are consequently seeded #1 in this year's tournament as well. Serena is going for her 7th Australian Open (5 of which occurred in odd-numbered years) while Djokovic is aiming for his 6th, having won it 4 of the last 5 years).

Men's Draw
The potential quarterfinal matches (if seedings hold) are:
Novak Djokovic (1) versus Kei Nishikori (7) or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9)Roger Federer (3) versus Tomas Berdych (6) or Marin Cilic (12)Stan Wawrinka (4)   versus Rafael Nadal (5)Andy Murray (2) versus David Ferrer (8) 
MadProfessah's pick for Men's Final: Federer d. Wawrinka.

Women's Draw
On the women's side of the draw, the potential quarterfinal matches (if seedings hold) are:
Serena Williams (1) versus Maria Sharapova (5) or Belinda Bencic (12)Garbiñe Muguruza (3) or Victoria Azarenka (14) versus Angelique Kerber (7)Agnieska Radwanska (4) versus Petra Kvitova (6)Simona Halep (2) versus Venus Williams (8) 
MadProfessah's pick for Women's Final: Serena d. Halep.

First Round Matches To Watch
Amazingly, two Spaniards, Nadal and Fernando Verdasco will face off in the very first round, a reprise of the classic 5-hour 2009 semifinal match the two played here. Additionally, fellow countrymen Lleyton Hewitt and James Duckworth (Australia) and Jack Sock and Taylor Fritz (USA) will face off in round one as well. Other first round (upset alerts) are Philipp Kohlschreiber versus #7 seed Nishikori, #9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga versus Marcos Baghdatis and Jerzy Janowicz versus #10 John Isner. If #2 seed Murray is not sharp against g-foor-6 teenager Sasha Zverev he may be sent home to be with his wife on the occasion of the arrival of their first child earlier than he expects!

Other exciting first round matches to take note of are Serena playing against the hard-hitting (and fearless) Camila Giorgi of Italy. (I would not be surprised to see this go three sets, although I seriously doubt Serena will want to lose to two Italian players in a Grand Slam in a row!) Svetlana Kuznetsova versus Daniela Hantuchova are two veteran players trying to stave off retirement (I expect 2-time major champ to get through this one). Genie Bouchard versus Aleksandra Krunic could have a surprising result. Krunic is good, and Bouchard is still trying to find her level after a horrible 2015. Venus Williams had an incredible win against the hottest player of the Fall 2015 season at the time in Johanna Konta last year. The two face off in the first round and I wouldn't be surprised by an upset  here, although I think Venus will be ready for the fight. I would not be surprised to see 2014 finalist Dominika Cibulkova win a first-round encounter with Kiki Mladenovic.

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