Australian Open Preview – Analysis & Prediction of the Men’s singles draw

Hi guys, been a while since I’ve done one of these so I thought I’d get back into it by providing my analysis and prediction of the Men’s singles draw at the 2015 Australian Open.  But before I get into it, I’d just like to say happy new year to all the readers! Here’s to another cracking tennis season.

This year’s top seed is again Novak Djokovic, who arrives in Melbourne after an early exit (For his standards) in Doha to big-serving Ivo Karlovic. The current holder of the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup is Stan Wawrinka who finds himself seeded 4th, ahead of players such as Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych. The 32 seeded line-up is featured below:

Seeds

1 – N. Djokovic                 9 – D. Ferrer                        17 – G. Monfils                 25 – J. Benneteau

2 – R. Federer                 10 – G. Dimitrov                  18 – G. Simon                      26 – L. Mayer

3 – R. Nadal                     11 – E. Gulbis                       19 – J. Isner                         27 – P. Cuevas

4 – S. Wawrinka             12 – F. Lopez                        20 – D. Goffin                     28 – L. Rosol

5 – K. Nishikori              13 – R. Bautista-Agut         21 – A. Dolgopolov             29 – J. Chardy

6 – A. Murray                 14 – K. Anderson                 22 – P. Kohlschreiber       30 – S. Giraldo

7- T. Berdych                 15 – T. Robredo                   23 – I. Karlovic                    31 – F. Verdasco

8 – M. Raonic                 16 – F. Fognini                    24 – R. Gasquet                   32 – M. Klizan

 

First Quarter:

As the top seed, Djokovic features right at the top of the draw, and received a nice looking route to capturing his 5th Grand Slam success down-under. The Serb is due to face a qualifier in the first round, before possible meetings with Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Bautista-Agut in later rounds. RBA potentially provides Djokovic’s first real test in round 4, but Djokovic has seen off the Spaniard comfortably in their two only meetings. However, RBA has a tough first round encounter against fast-rising Dominic Thiem, who will surely test the 13th seed early on.

The next highest seed featured in the top quarter is Milos Raonic, a dark-horse in my view for the title. The Canadian should definitely like the look of his draw, and should progress through to the quarters unscathed. Aussie veteran Lleyton Hewitt could face Raonic in the 3rd round, a match that surely would be on a main court. Hewitt may have to get past Julien Benneteau in the 2nd round, a man nearly as experienced as the Aussie. I had previously predicted Juan Martin Del-Potro to make a strong run to the 4th round, but unfortunately he’s had to pull out due to the risk of further damage being done to his wrist. His first round opponent was Jerzy Janowicz, who I now see reaching the 4th round at Del Potro’s expense, before losing to Raonic.

I’m going to predict a quarter-final between Djokovic & Raonic, with the top seed edging it in 4 sets. Don’t be surprised to see the Canadian winning the encounter. He’s improving fast.

Projected 4th round matches:

Novak Djokovic (1) V Roberto Bautista-Agut (13)

Feliciano Lopez (12) V Milos Raonic (8)

 

Predicted Semi-finalist: Novak Djokovic (1)

 

Second Quarter:

Last year’s winner Wawrinka finds himself as the top seeded player in the second quarter, with Kei Nishikori likely to offer the biggest test. Stan has arguably the nicest looking draw, with erratic Fabio Fognini his projected 4th round opponent. It will be major surprise to see Stan not reach the quarters. Japan’s Nishikori has a lively-looking first match, with Nicolas Almagro his first opponent. Santiago Giraldo features in Kei’s route, but the possibility of a 4th round match with David Ferrer is the highlight of the section. Ferrer, like Wawrinka, should be content with his draw, but could face Gilles Simon before Nishikori. Two players who will test him thoroughly. An unseeded player to look out for is Vasek Pospisil, who I see making a surprise run to the 4th round before falling to Wawrinka. 21st seed Alexandr Dolgopolov is always tough to predict, so watch out for him also.

Again I’m going to predict the highest seeds in the quarter progressing to the quarter-finals, where Wawrinka will meet Nishikori. However this time I’m going for Nishikori to edge out Stan and end his title defence in 5 thrilling sets. Stan would be the favourite but he’s unpredictable sometimes so I’m going to go with my head and say Kei will progress to meet Novak.

Projected 4th round matches:

Stan Wawrinka (4) V Fabio Fognini (16

David Ferrer (9) V Kei Nishikori (5)

 

Predicted Semi-finalist: Kei Nishikori (5)

 

Third Quarter:

The third quarter is perhaps the most open, even with Rafael Nadal placed here. Rafa opens with a challenging match-up with Mikhail Youzhny, a man who’s beaten the Spaniard 4 times. Should Rafa get past the Russian his draw opens up, with it tough to see him losing before the quarters. Lukas Rosol, is a potential 3rd round opponent, in a match that evokes memories of their 2012 Wimbledon thriller. Kevin Anderson and Richard Gasquet are most likely to present the challenge for Rafa in the fourth round, with the Frenchman my pick to win that encounter. Tomas Berdych is the second highest seed in the quarter, but after a strong-looking few rounds, his draw begins to get tough with the likes of Ernests Gulbis, Leonardo Mayer and Philipp Kohlschreiber likely to be opponents along the way. The quarter also contains many Australians with Bernard Tomic providing the biggest hope for home fans. Tomic opens against German Tobias Kamke, and I believe Tomic is the unseeded player to watch out for in the third quarter. His potential match against Kohlschreiber will be key.

A final mention goes to Ernests Gulbis, seeded 11th in Melbourne. The Latvian is undoubtedly talented and is always a dangerous player to face, so don’t write Gulbis off should he play his very best. A Quarter-final spot is very much a possibility, but unlikely in my view.

I’ve seen many people say that Nadal will exit early here, but I just can’t see any player in his section that will beat him in 5 sets. He’s been struggling in the past few months with injuries, but he’ll surely be too strong before the semi-finals.

Projected 4th round matches:

Tomas Berdych (7) V Ernests Gulbis (11)

Kevin Anderson (14) V Rafael Nadal (3)

 

Predicted Semi-finalist: Rafael Nadal (3)

 

Fourth Quarter:

The final quarter contains the number 2 seed in Melbourne, Roger Federer, who arrives in positive optimism after winning the Brisbane title. Lu Yen-hsen offers the first test, with Tommy Robredo and Ivo Karlovic projected to face the Swiss star early on. Young Borna Coric would create an exciting third round opponent but he has to get past Jeremy Chardy and either Andreas Seppi or Denis Istomin for a chance to play Federer.

Will Federer win his 18th GS title?
Will Federer win his 18th GS title?

The top half of the final quarter looks the toughest to call, as Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin all feature. Murray could face a tricky 3rd round match against Martin Klizan, with a mouth-watering tie against Dimitrov likely in the 4th round. Standing in Dimitrov’s way is Goffin, who has the game to defeat the Bulgarian here. Another Australian Nick Kyrgios, is also in the bottom quarter, but he looks to have his hands full with Karlovic and Robredo possible early encounters.

The projected Quarter-final from this section is the most exciting on paper, with either Murray, Dimitrov or Goffin likely to face Federer. I’m going to go for Dimitrov to face the Swiss maestro, resulting in a 4 set win for Federer. Just going to add that I see Dimitrov/Murray as the match of the tournament.

Projected 4th round matches:

Andy Murray (6) V Grigor Dimitrov (10)

Tommy Robredo (15) V Roger Federer (2)

 

Predicted Semi-finalist: Roger Federer (2)

 

Overall Prediction

Despite losing in the Quarters last year to Wawrinka, it’s hard to see Djokovic not lifting another Australian Open title this year. Djokovic struggles against big-serving players, so a potential match against John Isner could be interesting but I still see him having too much for the American. As said previously, Raonic is fast-improving and was perhaps unfortunate to not win the title in Brisbane a few weeks back. I’ve said I think Djokovic will edge Raonic, but I wouldn’t be that surprised to see the Canadian push him all the way, maybe even winning.

The possibility of a Fedal semi-final is exciting, with Federer continuing his strong performances from last year by winning the Brisbane title. Many know Rafa’s strong lead in their head-to-head, but I’d back Roger to come through in 5 sets and reach the final as his form is very strong and Rafa’s still searching for his best form since returning from injury.

If Federer brings his high-quality net game to Melbourne he has every chance of reaching the final and defeating Djokovic to win his 18th Grand Slam title, as shown in Shanghai, where Novak had no answer to the constant net play. An attacking Roger is a dangerous Roger, but if he holds back at all and plays conservative, I can’t see anyone but Djokovic winning the title.

I’m going to go with my head and say Novak in 4. I guess Fed will be conservative 😉

 

Summary:

Winner – Novak Djokovic

Dark-horses – Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov

Potential surprise runs – Jerzy Janowicz, Vasek Pospisil, Bernard Tomic, David Goffin

 

5 first round matches to watch:

James Ward V Fernando Verdasco (31)

Dominic Thiem V Roberto Bautista-Agut (13)

Thanasi Kokkinakis V Ernests Gulbis (11)

Mikhail Youzhny V Rafael Nadal (3)

Dustin Brown V Grigor Dimitrov (10)

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my analysis and predidction of the 2015 Australian Open Men’s singles draw, I hoped you enjoyed it. Agree with what I said? Why not offer your opinion below by commenting!

For any questions or queries on this blog, or other blogs, either contact me on my twitter handle – @Tennis17MAD or via email at – jamesfroud0608@hotmail.co.uk

 

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