Friday, 13 January 2017

Aus Open Mens Singles Prediction

As we count down to the women's final at the Sydney Apia International, and wait with bated breath the outcome of the men's semi finals at the same venue, it is opportune to comment on the Australian Open singles draws which were conducted earlier today.

Armed with this knowledge, and even without the completion of qualifying, and the final lead up tournaments, I am ready to announce my little sought after predictions for the opening Grand Slam tournament of 2017.

I will begin with the Men's Singles because then any reference to Andy Murray can be dispensed with early.  I am so sick and tired of the press, especially British, but often Australian, over rating this man's position in not just sporting history, but the history of mankind.
Not content with giving the guy an OBE, he is now a knight, and Channel 7 has demanded its commentators introduce him as Sir Andy.  Give me strength.

As the number one seed, the five time losing finalist has a rather friendly draw, and should face Lucas Pouille in the fourth round.
Interestingly, if Roger Federer is to shock everyone and win this thing, he will need to meet and beat Murray in a quarter final.  Before that, the Swiss hero would have to find a path past Berdych and Nishikori.  Berdych not an issue, but Nishikori a bigger hurdle these days.

I think the seedings will be true and a replay of the 2016 US Open quarter final will see Nishikori worry Murray again.  Whether it's enough to send the Scot home is doubtful but it's probably Andy's least desirable match up of the four possibilities - Monfils, Cilic, Thiem the others.

In Murray's half is Stan Wawrinka, who has been average since winning the final major of 2016.  Which makes him dangerous come the Aus Open.  He is the big occasion performer, and has Cilic and Kyrgios in his quarter.  If Kyrgios is fit, it may well be the Australian as Stan's round of sixteen opponent, and that should be a highlight.
Cilic enters Melbourne having lost his only match in Chennai, so is hard to read on a form line.  However it is folly to dismiss his chances given his record as a US Open Champ.
I am cautiously optimistic about Kyrgios - I think that his enforced break leaves him fresh and hungry for success.  He is still an idiot in many respects, but his talent knows few bounds. 

Murray v Kyrgios in one semi final.

The bottom part of the draw was horrid for Fernando Verdasco - he is still undergoing counselling following the semi final loss to Djokovic in Doha, where he blew five match points.  Now he has to play the same guy in the first round at Melbourne Park.  What tennis God did he offend ?
By the same token, not an easy start for the defending champ.  Novak shouldn't stumble in the first few rounds, though.  His fourth round encounter could be against Brisbane winner Grigor Dimitrov, whose three top ten victims there are evidence of his right to be considered a serious contender.
Richard Gasquet may pose a problem for Grigor, but it's all only first week stuff since Djokovic has the measure of both and will be waiting for Dominic Thiem or David Goffin in his quarter final.

The semi final has to be Djokovic v Raonic.  Milos Raonic made it that far last year, and only injury cost him a spot in the final..  He may have to play a Spaniard in the fourth round - Ferrer or more likely Bautista Agut, and perhaps another in the quarter final.
Rafa Nadal is nestled dangerously in this part of the draw, and Gael Monfils is drawn to play him in the fourth round. 
Given Nadal at somewhere near his best, I'd have to pick him to play Raonic in a repeat of their Brisbane quarter final.  And a repeat of that result too.

So is it Novak Djokovic to win a seventh Aus Open title from seven finals ? Or will Murray finally break through in his sixth final ?
Could we have a fairytale Federer v Nadal final ?

I am going to be totally boring and suggest that it will be Djokovic once more, and that Murray will be required to force another runner-up smile when the chocolates are handed out.

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