Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 AUS OPEN: Draw Preview and Predictions

The draw for the 2018 Australian Open is out. The defending champions are Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Serena has withdrawn because she is not quite ready after giving birth to her first child about 4 months ago. 

Women's Draw Preview
The women's draw features only two former Australian Open champions: Angelique Kerber (2016) and Maria Sharapova (2008). If the draw goes according to seedings, this would be the women's quarterfinals:
  • [1] Simona Halep (ROU)          vs [6] Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
  • [3] Garbine Muguruza (ESP)  vs [8] Caroline Garcia (FRA)
  • [4] Elina Svitolina (UKR)         vs [5] Venus Williams (USA)
  • [2] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs [7] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
I doubt anyone thinks this will actually happen. Kerber is (again) playing excellent tennis and is on a 9-match winning streak, which allowed her to win the Sydney warm-up tournament. However, I think that other "K" layers will have even bigger breakthroughs this year, including Konta, Kvitova amd Keys. So, I am predicting the following:

  • Semifinals: Kvitova versus Keys and Wozniacki versus Svitolina.
  • Final: Keys versus Wozniacki.
  • Champion: Keys.

Men's Draw Preview
The men's draw features the return of 6-time Aussie Open champion Novak Djokovic, and of course last year's finalists Federer and Nadal resume their rivalry. Of course, Djokovic ends up in Federer's half, along with Dominc Thiem, Sascha Zverev, David Goffin and Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal has an amazingly gentle draw, and even though he has not played a professional match all year and has fueled speculation about his fitness, the current World #1 has a very good shot at winning his second consecutive hard-court major. However, it is long past time for a member of the "new" generation to step up and win a major. Surely this will happen in 2018, but can it happen in Melbourne?

If the draw goes according to seedings, this would be the men's quarterfinals:
  • [1] Rafael Nadal (ESP)            vs [6] Marin Cilic (CRO)
  • [3] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)     vs [8] Jack Sock (USA)
  • [4] Sascha Zverev (GER)        vs [5] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 
  • [2] Roger Federer (SUI)          vs [7] David Goffin (BEL)

This is more likely to happen than on the women's side  but still it is relatively unlikely. Instead, I am predicting:

  • Semifinals: Nadal vs Dimitrov, Federer vs Zverev
  • Final: Dimitrov versus Federer.
  • Champion: Federer.
We shall see!

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