2015 Tennis: Australian Open, Expectations

I wish I could say I know tennis, cause I am a tennis player, alas that’s not the case. Just an avid fan of the sport since I was 16 and saw Rafael Nadal win his first French Open. Yes I was suckered into the sport by this Spaniards adorable face, his intense concentration, the fist pump celebrations, and other traits that made watching him a great introductory player to the sport. Since watching the 2007 French Open on my dingy ’90s television from my living room my love for the sport has grown exponentially. To the point where my friends who are actual tennis players, and have been since their toddler years, say I keep more up-to-date on the professional circuit than them. They were busy actually playing the sport.

He's so estatic!
He’s so ecstatic!
Love's biting that trophy...
Love’s biting that trophy…
This photo was straight up exploitation. ;)
This photo was straight up exploitation. 😉

I think that would be a dream job for me, just following the ATP circuit writing up articles on various tennis matches, and conducting interviews with the players themselves. However I wouldn’t interview the top ten players too much, but more of the guys just below them because if you watch many of the top ten players interview there’s a bit of a formula that makes them a bit mundane, Thomas Berdych might get the exception. However go outside those guys and you find Gulbis, Monfils, and Tongsa and they’re quite funny when they’re in the mood to be. I think its a matter of the media trying to find any sort of “off-court” drama to fill their pages with so it makes it difficult for the players to say some random off the cuff comment without it being taken out of context or even a story with some truth in it being blow out of proportion. For example, Wawrinka and Federer’s Wife during his and Feds match at the O2 arena for the ATP world finals: she heckled at him from the sidelines taking him way out of his game frame of mind. The head ref. had to rear him in, and in the end Wawrinka lost the match. All the media took away from that match wasn’t how well they both played, but what kind of drama was unfolding between Wawrinka and Federer’s wife and how was this going to affect the dynamics of the Swiss team since both Federer and Wawrinka are apart of their country’s David Cup team. They were fine, so fine their team won the Davis Cup Final for 2014 beating France.

 

Does this look like drama?
Does this look like drama?

These past couple years for the men’s tennis have shown the top 4 men, “The Big Four” (Murray, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic) to be mortals, despite these guys having dominated for the past decade. I think this year will definitely be interesting because 2014 already had two new names to the pretty steady nadal/djokovic/federer mix of grand slam winners. Last year Stan Wawrinka won the Australian Open to an injured Nadal (a win no less) and Marin Cilic defeated Kei Nishikori in the US Open Final. This year is hard to say who could be the dark horse since there are dozen of variations and outcome, and I’ll try to do some post during the Slams as well. What I will say is who I’d like to see make it to the second week of matches.

Left: Men's Trophy Right: Woman's Trophy
Left: Men’s Trophy Right: Woman’s Trophy

Emma’s Second Week Expectations:

  • Nadal (I know this pick is bias)
  • Federer
  • Ferrer
  • Monfils
  • Dimitrov
  • Robredo
  • Milos

Those are mine, and I know others whose chances are more than good to reach second week:

  • Djokovic
  • Wawrinka
  • Berdych

There are a few I left out purposely cause I’m not sure at what state they’re in physically or mentally, so I’ll need to see them play

  1. Murray: His whole back and switching coaches put this past year in a funk compared to his previous 2 years I’ll say. Not sure how much of the past season issues will carry over this year. He’s definitely more relaxed as an individual.
  2. Nishikori: He had his best season yet last year, I’ll even call it his “break out year.” So I think his aim should be about consistency this next season, and I have no clue how he’ll do this tournament. I’ll say he makes the second week.
  3. Cilic: I honestly not sure how to regard this player because he was banned for “accidentally” consuming illegal performance enhancing substances (he was cleared because he stated he unknowingly consumed it because his team provided him these tablets, “Blind Trust”) and his suspension was cut down to four months so he could be apart of the ’14 tour season. He won the US Open guaranteeing him a spot at the ATP Final in London and then went quiet again. So for now I’ll label him the “lazy talent”, he can play well but doesn’t show the same passion as other top ten players. He’s another big guy like Milos and Del Potro, all of them being 6’5″ plus.
  4. Del Potro: I initially placed him up with my expected 2nd week players, but I second guessed myself and placed him here. It’s been almost a year since his last match before undergoing surgery for his wrist and he does frequently post on social media his recovery progress. In recent interviews as well he’s been honest about the pain level he need to tolerate when playing high intensity matches or his backhand in general. I’m excited for his return because he was performing well before taking this medical leave. Had a grand slam win under his belt, especially considering it was during the Nadal vs Federer rivalry domination. So, even though I’d place him in my expected 2nd week round players, explanation was needed. He’s ranked seriously low from essentially being absent all ’14 losing all his earned points from ’13. UPDATE: Del Potro Withdraws from AO due to persistent pain from wrist surgery/injury. Get well!
This year's Dark Horse?
This year’s Dark Horse?

I’ll make a minor note that I don’t follow the women’s circuit as much, there hasn’t been a player to get me uber excited to watch the women matches. The Williams sisters (mainly Serena) have been such dominant players that it almost makes me feel disinterested intentionally. Like, why watch when you know whose going to win? Players like Bouchard, Halep, Kvitova, and Kerber have been shaking things up the women’s circuit; dethroning Serena a few times and just overall showing amazing athleticism for the sport.

Additional Player Alert: Ivo Karlovic

This happening just before the Australian Open is crazy! Tallest player in the ATP at 6’11” and 34/35 years of age he might also mix things up in Melbourne depending on his placement in the draw. Them tall guys doe… they know how to ace.

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