Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 AUS OPEN: Men's Quarterfinals Preview

The men's quarterfinals are now set at the 2013 Australian Open. Last year, I predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. I have also previewed the 2013 Australian Open women's quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Tomas Berdych (CZE) [5].  The World #1 played one of the best matches of the year to survive a near-death experience against determined Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the 4th round. That match lasted 5 hours and 2 matches and was one in which Wawrinka was outplaying Djokovic for extremely long stretches but somehow the Serb kept fighting and was able to take advantage of his limited opportunities to stay close in the match. The Warwrinka-Djokovic slugfest was surprising because Djokovic has owned Wawrinka to date in their career and had been slicing through his opponents with deadly efficiency in the first three rounds.  In fact, Djokovic is the only one of the Big 3 to lose more than one set in the first four rounds, and he did it in one match! One would think playing 5 hours would have a negative impact on Djokovic's performance in his next match, but last year he played an epic match against Andy Murray in the semifinals here and followed it up by winning the best (and most hard-fought) match of the year against Rafael Nadal roughly 48 hours later. Although Berdych is not one of the Big 3 he has been running through his section of the draw like one and comes in to this showdown with the Serbian fresh and ready to cause some damage. The career head-to-head greatly favors Djokovic since the only time in 11 meetings the Czech has won was the grand stage of the 2010 Wimbledon semifinals, but Berdych has made large noises at the slams before by  taking out Roger Federer at the 2010 Wimbledon and 2012 US Open. Can Berdych do so again at the major where Djokovic has been his most dominant? Possibly, but unlikely.  Mad Professah's Pick: Djokovic in 4 sets.

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP) [10]. This all Spanish-quarterfinal ensures that there will be a Spaniard playing in the semifinals of the Australian Open for the fourth time in five years (2010 was the only year that was missed). Both of these players have prospered during the extended absence of their compatriot Rafael Nadal with Ferrer reaching the #4 seed at a major and both players reaching their highest ATP ranking. This match-up should be the least interesting of the four men's quarterfinals played since Ferrer has a 12-0 stranglehold in the career head-to-head with Almagro. Of course, past results are no predictor of future events but it is difficult to see a scenario where Ferrer does not play up to his seeding and reach his 5th major semifinal. Mad Professah's pick: Ferrer in 5 sets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [7] vs Roger Federer (SUI) [2]. Federer is playing in his 35th consecutive major quarterfinal (and 39 quarterfinals overall) and has reached 32 major semifinals (losing only 7 quarterfinals), so he should be considered a 4:1 favorite to reach his record 33rd semifinal against most opponents. However he is playing someone who has beaten him in a major quarterfinal before, in the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals despite Federer winning the first two sets! The career head-to-head favors Federer 8 to 3 but one of those wins is a walkover during their one scheduled meeting in 2012. In 5-set matches, Federer leads 2-1 but Melbourne has to be considered Tsonga's most successful major, since he has reached the final here 5 years ago (losing to a very young Djokovic). Federer has had the most difficult draw of any of the top 4 players but he is also the only player who has managed not to lose his serve at all through 4 rounds, despite facing Benoit Paire, Nikolay Davydenko, Bernard Tomic and #13 seed Milos Raonic. Federer had an astonishingly low 12 unforced errors (to 34 winners) in his dismantling of Raonic in the 4th round and is still yet to lose a set (or have his serve broken) in the tournament. I don't think that streak will continue in the quarterfinal, but I do expect Federer to reach another major semifinal, his 33rd. Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 4 sets.

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [6] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Andy Murray (GBR) [3]. Murray has done well in Australia and has probably been the second best hard-court player in the world over the last 12 months. Winning his first major championship in New York appears to have brought clarity to his game and no really expects him to lose to players lower ranked than he is any more. Chardy is playing in his first major quarterfinal, having taken out hard-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the 3rd round in a surprising show of mental and physical fortitude after blowing a 2-0 set lead.  That being said, Chardy needed 4-sets to get past Andreas Seppi while Murray has yet to drop a set all tournament long and almost certainly will not do so on his way to reaching his 4th consecutive semifinal in MelbourneMad Professah's pick: Murray in 3 sets.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin