The first Slam of the year has come around again, well that didn’t take long. When you are younger, all you wanted to do was get older for all the really fun stuff, then you realise when you get there it’s not always good. The only that moves quicker is time.
In the interest of fairness and also the fact that there should be more writing on this blog, this will be a preview of some sort. Though it’s pretty obvious that who I’ll be picking to win the overall event.
Seppi vs. Gabashvili
The South Tyrolean maestro was the unlucky guy to draw the Djokovic seeding, but as they say someone had to do it. This match against the Georgian born, Spanish based man playing for Russian with an Argentinian coach has some potential to be interesting.
Gabashvili is quite unpredictable then when your nickname is “tsunami” that can explain a few things. Ever since linking up with Cañas who is looking huge and not in the eating too many asado way, it has overall helped Gabashvili’s game.
As it’s meant to be hot for the first round and according to some players the courts a bit quicker than in recent years. The balls will fly through the air quicker and on Gabashvili’s worst days he resembles a baseballer. They’ve played a few times and I think Seppi will get up in 4 sets in this one, will be too steady overall though Gabashvili is capable of having one of those big days.
Thiem vs. Leo Mayer
This is an interesting match and one that Thiem knows he won’t find too easy. They’ve played 3 times all on clay and two of them were very close matches. Sure Thiem is better on the hardcourt but the Aligator Mayer is no clown on this surface.
When Mayer is on, he works the points well with the serve and the heavy groundies but he is a bit slow so Thiem can expose that with his big shots. The draw for Thiem does represent an opportunity for his best Slam performance. It will be interesting to see how the youngster handles the oppressive conditions tomorrow.
Almagro vs. Benneteau
Two guys who are on the southern parts of their career. Last season Alamgro was coming back from injury but really didn’t have a big result and Benneteau is here on a protected ranking. It seems like Benne’s best chance of prolonging his career is becoming a doubles specialist.
Bautista-Agut vs. Klizan
Bautigol will want to avenge an average performance against Muller last year. He won Auckland beating some good opponents, this plus Klizan is a gronk, the poor mans Melzer and will likely retire as he hates the heat.
Robert vs. Fratangelo
The French youngster qualifies for another main draw and plays the lucky loser who is named after Björn Borg. Lucky losers can be dangerous well Robert made the fourth round taking a set off Andy Murray in a great run.
Just hope the Robert that shows up is the one who is loving life, having fun and playing that entertaining tennis. The first two are a given but the latter isn’t always the case when he is off, he is missing a lot and his second serve is fodder.
Gimeno-Traver vs. Smyczek
Not the worst draw for DGT, at the same time he is vulnerable to the hardcourt specialist. Ideally Gimeno-Traver would be getting plenty of kick off the serve and his forehand bouncing very high to push Smyczek back off the baseline where he is not at his best.
Maybe DGT should get some tips from his Bautista Agut on how to play Smyczek since he loves playing him. Gimeno-Traver started Chennai badly, played quite well in Canberra. He has a solid first half of the year to defend a lot of points.
Rosol vs. Daniel
Big hitting Rosol against a smaller player who trains in Valencia. This normally means a win for the smaller guy though as much as Taro Daniel has certain traits shared with David Ferrer, he isn’t at that level.
Rosol on a good serving day should have too much for Daniel who on the hardcourts is vulnerable on the second serve and backhand side. The forehand is heavy and Rosol could mishit some balls, since the big man doesn’t have the most compact swings. Though experience will get the job done here.
Millman vs. Schwartzman
Two guys I like but clearly Team Millman on this one. Millman has improved his forehand from before where it used to be a rally shot to set the backhand down the line up to a shot where he can hit winners from.
Blackman looks like a ballkid who has excellent timing on his shots. If Millman doesn’t hit with good depth or penetration then Boca Juniors fanatic will make the Mailman run and run. Millman is a huge favourite for this one, though while I hope he wins, those odds were a bit ludicrous.
Both have little niggles but will be fine come match day. Though Millman has a back condition that can flare up anytime, just hope it’s not here unlike last season.
Fognini vs. Muller
Muller has started the season well, he has that quality serve and steady backhand. The forehand breaks down under pressure and as for The Fog it depends on what mood he is in.
The Fog could easily win in straight sets or tank and lose in less than 2 hours. At least with the Fog it will be done in his own unique style.
Brian Baker has been sighted and no he hasn’t withdrawn yet. Just hope he gets through the match and has no more serious injuries.
Dimi Tursunov is back as well, yes he’ll lose in the 1st round to Wawrinka there should be some big ballbashing in this one.
It’s Hewitt’s last event before he becomes Australian DC captain a role that he is so suited to. Duckworth a guy who looks up to Hewitt and has received help from him is his first opponent. Don’t think Ducky will beat Hewitt and it’ll be David Ferrer that ends Hewitt’s career.
As for the tournament winner. This little story sums it up very well. Marinko Matosevic and Novak Djokovic were warming up and Matosevic was drilling one backhands at Djokovic who was at net.
Djokovic screams out to the media and others there “Did you see that? He’s trying to take me out. You saw it”. Then Matosevic replies dryly “It’s the only way anyone else has a chance in the tournament”.
Apart from a red hot Wawrinka, it really looks like Matosevic is right.