Tag Archives: David Ferrer

Australian Open 2013 Preview and Predictions

While probably the least heralded of the four Grand Slams; the Australian Open has a considerable claim to being the best of the bunch. Were it not for the majority of play generally occurring during the middle of the night in Britain then this tournament would surely be receiving a great deal more credit. Even with this caveat, an unfeasibly large number of the best matches of the 21st century have taken place in night-time slot – the slot coinciding with those in the United Kingdom arriving at their desks for a morning of discreetly following along online.

So, why is it the best? Most importantly, the tournament produces a greater quantity of high quality matches, from start to finish, than any other Grand Slam. Additionally, the meteorological issues which plague the other three majors are absent – apart from the occasional excessive heat warning, rather an insignificant problem to have. And finally, it has the best crowd of any of the Grand Slams– an audience there to enjoy the tennis and support the players fairly and passionately; free from the sorry disrespect frequently in evidence at Roland Garros, the snobbery occasionally prevalent at Wimbledon, and the ignorant catcalling of Flushing Meadows.

Recent evidence of Melbourne’s superiority? The 2012 Australian Open latter stages surely matched any Grand Slam in the history of the game: Rafa Nadal took down Roger Federer (again) in a mini-classic in the first semi-final; Novak Djokovic then outlasted Andy Murray over five hours and five sets in the second semi before –almost incomprehensibly, in one of the greatest athletic feats of all-time – returning to defeat Nadal in an epic six hour final less than two days later.

2012 was another incredible year for men’s tennis (comfortably the highest quality sport on the planet right now), but the combined standard of play and drama probably never equalled that which was on show Down Under in January.

So to 2013 and a tennis landscape which has shifted dramatically at the summit of the game. Nadal is out injured, has been since Wimbledon, with no definite return date. Murray is now a Grand Slam champion, and in possession of dramatically increased confidence and a transformed forehand. Federer is on the wane, capable of fleeting brilliance but lacking consistency. Only Djokovic is recognisable from 12 months ago – remaining a frightening warrior, world number 1 and deserved favourite to win his fourth Australian Open.    

Interestingly, Murray has a chance in Australia to accomplish something that has never been previously achieved in the Open Era (1968 – present). No player has ever won their second Grand Slam immediately after winning their first.  Indeed, of the 49 first time Grand Slam winners in the Open Era, only Federer, Jimmy Connors, Guillermo Vilas and Ilie Nastase managed to win their second Major at the second attempt. (Thanks to the Sporting Intelligence website for that wonderful little nugget).

The other element of interest in this year’s draw is the potential rise of young contenders, Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov. All have weaknesses in their games, but the appearance of a real challenger to the top 4 is long overdue. Australian, but by no estimation the home favourite, Tomic has a penchant for throwing the towel in too easily and Dimitrov is flashy, if erratic – but both young men have started the year exceptionally and could go well. Raonic has a monstrous serve but struggles with his movement.  Could Tomic possibly end Federer’s remarkable streak of reaching every Grand Slam quarter final since Wimbledon 2004.

The draw has set up the tournament immaculately with big matches potentially on schedule from early on in the first week: Lleyton Hewitt vs. Janko Tipsarevic (R1), Tomic v Federer (R3) and David Ferrer vs. Marcos Baghdatis (R3) to name but three. Here’s to another January of attempting to balance overnight tennis and work the next day – something I’ve never managed with any great success before.

Predictions

Q/Fs

Djokovic bt. Berdych (Djokovic in 3); Ferrer bt. Dimitrov (Ferrer in 5); Murray bt. Del Potro (Murray in 4); Tomic bt. Gasquet (Tomic in 4).

S/Fs

Djokovic bt. Ferrer (Djokovic in 3); Murray bt. Tomic (Murray in 4).

Final

Murray bt. Djokovic (Murray in 5).

Analysis

It is hard to look beyond a Murray Djokovic final. The pick here is for Murray to take him down in 5 sets again, gaining a measure of revenge over Djokovic for heartbreaking defeats in 2011 and 2012. Should this occur, a rivalry to match any of the greatest in history will be officially, inarguably born.  

The majority of the draw should progress according to seeding with Ferrer’s quarter unquestionably the most open. However, if Ferrer can survive Baghdatis in the third round, one would still expect him to reach the semi-finals.

Once there, Ferrer would face Djokovic, a nightmare matchup for the little Spaniard – and one which he has no hope of winning. In fact, it is difficult to see any significant challenge to Djokovic before the final.

The only outlandish selection here is for Tomic to go deep into the second week. But if not now, then possibly never for Tomic. I think he raises his game in front of a raucous home crowd and snaps Federer’s remarkable quarter-final record –just a hunch, plenty evidence to the contrary – and takes down Raonic and Richard Gasquet before eventually falling at Murray’s hands.

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US Open: Quarter Final Preview

We have been spoiled by the sheer quantity of legitimately epic Grand Slam matches witnessed in recent years and the 2012 US Open appears to be building to yet another glorious crescendo. Each of the four Quarter Finals has the potential to be a captivating match, with the subsequent permutations for the semis and final promising all-time great games and timeless classics.

Bearing in mind that I’m currently on a roll (7/8 correct in the 4th round) here is an in-depth preview – with predictions – of the Flushing Meadows Quarter Finals.

Quarter Final Matches

 Roger Federer (1) v Tomas Berdych (6)

This may prove a tricky encounter for Federer as it should be the first genuine test that he has faced in the tournament. After sweeping imperiously past Donald Young, Bjorn Phau and Fernando Verdasco, the Swiss then enjoyed a walkover to the Quarter Finals after Mardy Fish’s withdrawal. Federer has looked totally untroubled so far, but Berdych – while in possession of a somewhat suspect psychology – has the huge weapons that are essential to trouble Federer on a hard court. When Berdych gets it right, he is practically unstoppable. However, it is severely doubtful that he will get it right for three sets tonight.

Pre-tournament, I predicted that this matchup would occur and that Federer would take it in straight sets; however, Berdych is playing with more confidence than expected and crushing his flat groundstrokes on both sides. The first two sets will be split before Federer begins to take control in a tight third and then a comfortable clincher.

Federer in 4

 

Andy Murray (3) v Marin Cilic (12)

Murray started the tournament inconsistently, with scratchy performances against Alex Bogomolov and Feliciano Lopez bookending an authoritative showing against Ivan Dodig. Fortunately, the Scot appears to be moving through the gears – destroying the much hyped Milos Raonic in the 4th round with a splendid display of powerful ballstriking and fleetness of foot and mind. Cilic has progressed quietly to this stage, and while he has beaten Murray at Flushing Meadows before, his confidence for this matchup will be built on a sandy foundation due to Murray’s utter dominance on every other occasion they’ve played.

Expect Murray to continue serving well and dictating the points with his steadily improving forehand. Cilic has the power to stay with Murray from the baseline – enough power to make it difficult for him at times – but ultimately Murray’s superior movement around the court and greater consistency off both wings should be enough to take control of the match early on and keep it for the duration.

Murray in 3

 

David Ferrer (5) v Janko Tipsarevic (8)

David Ferrer is an utterly fascinating player, one of the most underrated in the history of the game (an aside that I’m currently analysing and writing up currently) – and surely a multiple major winner in any other era. Possessing slightly better skills in every department than he is ever given credit for, Ferrer – often unfairly portrayed as a mere roadrunner – should progress to his second US Open semi-final with effort to spare against the occasionally flaky Serbian.

Tipsarevic undoubtedly has the requisite power game that can trouble Ferrer on the hard court, but is slightly too inconsistent (the reason his career has reached a – admittedly impressive – plateau of 8 in the world) to break the relentless Spaniard down over 5 sets. While he will never penetrate Tipsarevic’s defences with impunity, Ferrer will eventually wear the Serb down with his heavy forehand and supremely consistent ballstriking – increasing the possibility that he could grind his way to what would be a genuinely deserved Grand Slam title.

Ferrer in 4

 

Novak Djokovic (2) v Juan Martin Del Potro (7)

This is potentially the match of the tournament. Defending champion Novak Djokovic taking on the only man outside of the ruling triumvirate in men’s tennis to have won a Grand slam since 2005. After struggling with a variety of injuries following his US Open success in 2009, Del Potro has finally appeared close to his peak again, and has moving menacingly through the draw so far. Djokovic will serve more consistently and move better than Del Potro (better than anyone in the history of the game, perhaps?) but his defence will be tested to the limit under the forehand onslaught that the Argentine always bring to the court.

While Djokovic has looked close to his invincible best thus far at Flushing Meadows, I’ll stick with my pre-tournament prediction – Del Potro taking him down in a blaze of monstrous forehands, stinging backhands and huge serving. This is dependent upon his recovery from victory over Andy Roddick – and whether he can sustain that physical and mental effort over a major tournament is yet to be seen – but Del Potro can destroy anyone in the world on his day. This is his day.

Del Potro in 5

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