Australian Open 2016 Men’s singles draw preview and prediction

It’s that time of the year again;

GRAND SLAM TIME.

With the season barely a few weeks old, we head to Melbourne for the 2016 Australian Open. I love all tournaments, but this one is highly regarded for me (Probably due to having family in Australia) and I cannot wait for the action to start.

Novak Djokovic arrives as the defending Champion*, and is looking to win an unprecedented sixth-title in Melbourne.

Once again the draw has thrown up some fascinating prospects, some of which are discussed below.

*Re-usable

Seeds:

1 – N. Djokovic

9 – J-W. Tsonga 17 – B. Paire

25 – J. Sock

2 – A. Murray

10 – J. Isner

18 – F. Lopez

26 – G-G. Lopez

3 – R. Federer

11 – K. Anderson 19 – D. Thiem

27 – G. Dimitrov

4 – S. Wawrinka

12 – M. Cilic 20 – F. Fognini 28 – A. Seppi

5 – R. Nadal

13 – M. Raonic 21 – V. Troicki

29 – N. Kyrgios

6 – T. Berdych 14 – G. Simon 22 – I. Karlovic

30 – J. Chardy

7 – K. Nishikori 15 – D. Goffin 23 – G. Monfils

31 – S. Johnson

8 – D. Ferrer 16 – B. Tomic 24 – R-B. Agut

32 – J. Sousa

Likely Quarter-Final match-ups (If Draw goes to the seedings):

Djokovic (1) – Nishikori (7)

Federer (3) – Berdych (6)

Nadal (5) – Wawrinka (4)

Ferrer (8) – Murray (2)

 

First Quarter

The top quarter is headlined by the defending champion and #1 seed Novak Djokovic, who faces a potentially tricky first-round encounter with Hyeon Chung. The Serb’s draw looks straightforward on paper with Ivo Karlovic lurking as his toughest projected opponent. There is contrasting news on Gilles Simon’s injury so I see Karlovic edging through into the 4th round.

IMG_8177
How can anyone back against Djokovic?
Kei Nishikori is the highest potential player Djokovic could face before the semis, but it is also up in the air how fit the Japanese star is. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes to the fore here with an exciting first-round match against 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis. I like Tsonga’s chances of progressing to the quarters here, but I cannot see how he troubles Djokovic enough to scrape through. Their head-to-head record is not something to back the Frenchman with…

 

Predicted Quarter-Final:

Novak Djokovic (1) – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9)

Potential surprise run:

Ivo Karlovic

3 1st round matches to watch:

Djokovic (1) – Chung

Tsonga (9) – Baghdatis

Kohlschreiber – Nishikori (7)

 

Second Quarter

Roger Federer will be hoping to go a little further than his 2015 effort after losing in the third round to Andreas Seppi. Ironically his draw last year was good for the 34 year-old, but this year’s throws up some interesting posibilities. Get through Nikoloz Basilashvili in his opener could then throw up meetings with Alexandr Dolgopolov and Grigor Dimitrov, should the draw go to plan.

083
Can ‘Baby-Fed’ threaten the real version?
Dimitrov has had a strong start to 2016 and should progress through to the third round. A potential fourth-round opponent for Federer or Dimitrov could be either David Goffin or Dominic Thiem, but youngsters with ever-improving games.

The second-half of this quarter features Nick Kyrgios and Tomas Berdych, with both looking to build on strong performances in 2015. The Australian looks an outside bet for a quarter-final, and he could be inspired by his home crowd for the second year running. Marin Cilic could be another player who you could make a serious case for after winning the 2014 US Open.

 

Predicted Quarter-Final:

Roger Federer (3) – Nick Kyrgios (29)

Potential surprise runs:

Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric

 

 

3 1st round matches to watch:

Thiem (19) – L.Mayer

Klizan – Bautista-Agut (24)

Kyrgios (29) – Carreno-Busta

 

Third Quarter

We could have a repeat of the 2013 Australian Open final in the quarter-finals of this year’s edition, with Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka projected to meet in the last-eight. Whether they will both make it not is a different story, as Wawrinka appears to have the worst draw of the main challengers. Auckland finalist Jack Sock looms in the third round, but it is his fourth round potential opponent who looks the biggest threat. Milos Raonic has started 2016 brilliantly after winning the title in Brisbane, and if he’s to play the way he did during that event then Stan may have his work cut out.

IMG_0791
Don’t be surprised to see this sight in the latter rounds
Nadal arrives in Melbourne in a completely different mood, and should progress deep into the second week. Fernando Verdasco is not a first round opponent you should take lightly, but his game seems too hit-and-miss to really trouble Rafa here. Kevin Anderson may be the player to trouble the Spaniard early, but his early season form appears a bit scratchy.

 

Predicted Quarter-Final: 

Rafael Nadal (5) – Milos Raonic (13)

Potential surprise run:

Jack Sock

3 1st round matches to watch:

Nadal (5) – Verdasco

Gulbis – Chardy (30)

Raonic (13) – Pouille

 

Fourth Quarter

The final quarter is arguably the weakest, but yet it still contains four-time runner-up Andy Murray. The Brit has been given a good-looking draw, with Murray expected to cruise through into the second week. There is doubt whether he will leave Melbourne early due to the expected birth of his first child, but there is no clue to when this may affect him.

IMG_0785
One last hurrah for ‘Rusty’?
After the Sydney fiasco, Bernard Tomic should arrive in full health, ready to challenge Murray should they meet in the fourth round. In this section Gilles Muller is a player to look out for so don’t be surprised for him to sneak quietly under the radar. Elsewhere, John Isner is expected to battle it out with David Ferrer for a quarter-final place, but Feliciano Lopez remains a dark-horse here.

Lleyton Hewitt’s meeting with fellow Australian James Duckworth is a match to look out for, with the double-slam champion bowing out from the sport after the event. His potential second round encounter with Ferrer could be something very special.

 

 

 

Predicted Quarter-Final:

John Isner (10) – Andy Murray (2)

Potential surprise run:

Gilles Muller

3 1st round matches to watch:

Duckworth – Hewitt

Janowicz – Isner (10)

A.Zverev – Murray (2)

 

Overall prediction

It may be repetitive, but how can anyone back against Novak Djokovic winning an eleventh Grand Slam title. His game is just too good on any surface right now, with only a small handful of players capable of beating the Serb. A semi-final showdown with Roger Federer could favour the Swiss more than if they were to meet in the final but over 5 sets, it seems near-impossible to back ‘Fed’.

After the joyous scenes of Great Britain clinching the Davis Cup, many backed Andy Murray to get back to slam winning ways in 2016. That, along with a great-looking draw, is why Murray should progress into the final where his opponent will probably be Djokovic.

 

The full Australian Open draw can be found here

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my analysis of the 2016 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

 

(All photos shown are my own)

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