This year i’ve generally taken a backseat on following the ATP tour here on Moo’s Tennis Blog. I’ve still been following it, but I haven’t had the time to do previews and also, I feel I can do the WTA more justice. I’ll be at Roland Garros on Sunday and Monday, and will have some new ATP photos for the blog! Also, i’ll be posting on my dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages so please follow if you don’t already. I’m off work for the majority of Wimbledon so i’m hoping Moo’s Tennis Blog will be even more a hive of activity! Anyway, here are some quick thoughts upon first look of the draw…
Well, that was kind of inevitable! Nadal’s placement in the draw was the biggest talking point pre-draw. If Nadal and Djokovic were to meet in the quarters, it would be quite a spectacle. Djokovic’s draw looks routine with Kevin Anderson, Richard Gasquet and Bernard Tomic the highest seeds he can meet before the quarters. Nadal’s draw is marginally more challenging with a potential second rounder against Alexandr Dolgopolov or Nicolas Almagro. I was thinking about who it would favour out of Nadal and Djokovic to meet so early… well early by their standards. I’d probably say Djokovic as it seems to take Nadal more time to get going. We’ll just have to wait and see whether the Nadal v Djokovic quarter comes to fruition…
All-Aussie R2 match?
The talented trio of Aussies, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis has been a refreshing new storyline on the ATP tour this year. Tomic and Kokkinakis could play each other in the second round. Tomic was super consistent through the first half of the year, winning at least two matches at his first seven tournaments. Tomic though, has gone 0-3 on the clay including a loss to his first round opponent in Paris, Luca Vanni in Madrid. Kokkinakis has been steadily improving all year and hasn’t lost a match in qualifying tournaments this year, successfully qualifying on six occasions. This included at a Challenger event in Bordeaux last week, which he played after failing to get to Rome after the airport fire. Kokkinakis won a total of seven matches and went onto to win the title. Of all the up-and-comers on the ATP tour, Kokkinakis (along with Andrey Rublev) are the two that excite me the most. It may be a little too early to be expecting Kokkinakis to do much at the Slams, but i’d go for Thanasi to reach the third round.
Dimitrov’s drawn a stinker
After a shaky spell between the Australian Open and Miami, Grigor Dimitrov has steadied the ship somewhat on clay. He did get dropped a third set bagel against Fabio Fognini in Rome, but made the quarters in Madrid. There is still a sense that the tennis world are selling his shares rather than buying them. There hasn’t been a great deal of discussion surrounding Dimitrov pre-RG and it’s unlikely to gather steam as he has a tough draw. Dimitrov opens against Jack Sock, who won his first ATP title in Houston on clay last month. Dimitrov leads the head-to-head 1-0 with a three set victory in Stockholm (which featured a pair of incredible hotshots). It’s a match i’d expect Dimitrov to win, but equally, wouldn’t be surprised to see Dimitrov lose. Also in Dimitrov’s section are Tommy Robredo and Borna Coric. Robredo beat Dimitrov at Indian Wells this year although Robredo hasn’t played since Barcelona. Coric is also one to watch and reached the semi-finals in Nice. If Dimitrov comes through his first three matches, Rafa could loom in the last 16.
Murray in the top half
The top half features Djokovic, Nadal andddd Andy Murray. The Brit is unbeaten on clay this year… who would have thought it?! Despite a magnificent run in Munich and Madrid, winning back-to-back titles, I still wouldn’t place Murray in my top three or four contenders. Perhaps, it’s the over-eagerness of the British media that makes me step back a little but i’d still question if Murray could beat Nadal over a best of five set match, let alone Djokovic. Murray’s draw actually looks quite tricky. First up is the qualifier, Facundo Arguello and in the second round would be Vasek Pospisil or Joao Sousa, the latter who is in the final of Geneva. Nick Kyrgios is the first seed that Murray could face. I think Kyrgios is GREAT for the ATP tour although personally, I don’t warm to him. Murray could also have to get past John Isner in the fourth round which is a pretty brutal draw to the quarters. Although I don’t see Murray as a real title contender, another semi-final appearance is well within his grasp if he can play well.
Nishikori and Berdych will be smiling
The third quarter presents huge opportunities for both Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych. Berdych has been remarkably consistent in two senses; Berdych is a whopping 32-0 against players outside of the top ten, but is also 0-6 against top 5 players. Berdych has not been able to bring his A-game in the big matches at the ends of tournaments and has lost out in three finals in Doha, Rotterdam and Monte-Carlo. Nishikori powered his way to the title in Barcelona and showed glimpses of that form in Madrid and Rome. Like Berdych but not quite to the same degree, Nishikori has failed to deliver in some of the key clashes. In Madrid, Nishikori played a stunning match to defeat David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, but he couldn’t back it up in the semi-finals as he was beaten in the semis by a superb, Andy Murray. Nishikori and Berdych haven’t played each other since 2012 so i’d like to see them play in the quarters. Nishikori’s draw isn’t a complete walk in the park with the likes of Thomaz Bellucci, Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Bautista Agut and Feliciano Lopez all floating around, but I think Kei could do great things at this tournament…
Fed’s draw: A doddle?
On first view, Roger Federer has a dream of a draw. He’s avoided Djokovic, Murray and Nadal in his half so that’s pretty dishy. However, I think it’s tougher than most are making out. Federer opens against Alejandro Falla and is seeded to meet Ivo Karlovic in the third round. A potential danger appears in the fourth round as Federer could play Gael Monfils, who has beaten him the last two times they have played including in Monte-Carlo earlier this year. Monfils is a different player in front of a home crowd. Furthermore, Federer was dished a supposedly dream draw in Melbourne and that didn’t go so well. Last night, I had Monfils to beat Federer but i’ve got cold feet.
Thoughts on the winner
I still remember after the Roland Garros final last year that I said to myself i’d never go against Nadal again… and here we go again! I was still reserving judgement for Nadal up to Rome, but his results cannot be overlooked. There were significant parallels between his 2014 and 2015 clay court season although I feel he started to get it together in Madrid and Rome last year. I still have a little nagging doubt in my head with Djokovic. Despite being superb throughout much of this year, there have been matches where he has shown fragility. I wonder how much he will feel the pressure and expectation. Where he has prevailed with flying colours this year is his ability to rein it back in when things start going pear-shaped. I’m going for Novak…
QF Predictions: Djokovic d. Nadal, Murray d. Ferrer, Nishikori d. Berdych and Federer d. Wawrinka
Final prediction: Djokovic d. Nishikori