I don’t know what the fuck happened, but early last week I was clamoring for some Aussie tennis. For the first time I watched some of the warmup tourneys leading up to this coming fortnight’s Australian Open.
Yes, I watched Bernard Tomic succumb meekly to Kei Nishikori. I saw that thrilling three-set win by Milos Raonic over Nishikori. I saw Roger Federer get his 1,000th win ever in the Brisbane finals over Raonic. I saw a 20-year old French “lucky loser” Lucas Pouille making it to the semifinals in Auckland.
So when the draw came out on Friday, I just about pissed my pants. Yes, I went through the draws and said ooh and ahh. I could bore everyone by going through the toughest sections, who could be upset in the early rounds, etc. etc. I could make specific points of analyses that will inevitably be wrong. I’ll just keep things general.
Women’s draw: The women’s side is a crapshoot, to be honest. Anyone who is seeded has as good of a chance to take it — that’s how deep the talent is on the women’s side. It’s not the case of mediocrity. There will be wonderful sublime tennis that will be played here, much more than the men’s side. Of course Serena Williams will be the favorite, but she usually doesn’t play well here. Maria Sharapova, the two-seed, will also be among the favorites, but until she learns how to compose a point rather than just outpower her opponent I won’t completely buy into her. I like Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, Agga Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic, Genie Bouchard and even 28-seed Sabine Lisicki. This will be fun.
Heat policy: Last year I thought the tournament directors were inhumane and barbaric by leaving players out there in the 110F+ heat. Ball kids and players alike were collapsing in the heat with seeming apathy by those at the top. As the Associated Press reported in December,
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the decision on implementing the policy will take into account the weather forecast once the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the Wet Bulb Global Temperature — a measurement that accounts for humidity, wind direction and the temperature — exceeds a reading of 32.5.
Also, matches in progress will be suspended at the end of an even-numbered game or at the end of the tiebreaker. Hopefully that will improve things a little.
Men’s draw: Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have not looked good leading up to the Open. Djokovic even had to cancel a practice session yesterday because of illness. Juan Martin Del Potro just pulled out with a bad wrist. Stan Wawrinka will probably have a lot of pressure on him as the reigning champ. For these reasons, that why I like Roger Federer to win his 18th Grand Slam.
By the way, I really hope we get to see Nishikori-Raonic in the quarterfinals.