Thursday, January 12, 2017

Federer and Murray land in same quarter in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia -- With Roger Federer seeded No. 17, there were a lot of possibilities for where he would land in the draw, but he found a relatively safe spot in the draw. The 17-time grand slam champion will face two qualifiers and then have to go through five consecutive top-10 seeds.

Here are the paths of the big four

Andy Murray
Illya Marchenko
Rendy Lu
Sam Querrey
John Isner
Kei Nishikori
Stan Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Fernando Verdasco
Denis Istomin
Pablo Carreno Busta
Grigor Dimitrov
Dominic Thiem
Milos Raonic
Andy Murray

Rafael Nadal
Florian Mayer
Marcos Baghdatis
Alexander Zverev
Gael Monfils
Milos Raonic
Novak Djokovic
Andy Murray

Roger Federer
Qualifier
Qualifier
Tomas Berdych
Kei Nishikori
Andy Murray
Stan Wawrinka
Novak Djokovic

Djokovic's Nightmare: The biggest first round match of the tournament will certainly be Novak Djokovic against Fernando Verdasco. The two met earlier this year and Djokovic needed to save five match points to defeat the Spaniard. Verdasco upset Rafael Nadal in this tournament last year and is more than capable of pulling off another big upset this year. However, if Djokovic can get through that match, it should be business as usual until the semifinals.

Quarter of Opportunity: The second quarter of the draw lacks any of the members of the Big Four, but it isn't lacking for talent. Marin Cilic will face Jerzy Janowicz in the first round, which will be a great match for one of the outside courts. Both Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka have decent draws, so it's hard to see how they won't play each other. That is the most bitter and personal rivalry on tour.

Raonic's Quarter: Milos Raonic's quarter of the draw will also be interesting. Jiri Vesely and Gael Monfils will meet in the first round and the winner will face either Alexandr Dolgopolov or Borna Cilic. Raonic has his own test in the first round in Dustin Brown. In the third round, Nadal playing Alexander Zverev would be a fantastic match. Zverev nearly pulled off the upset in Indian Wells last year.

Contenders' Quarter: Andy Murray's section of the draw doesn't have the blockbuster first round matches, but it arguably has the most title contenders with Murray, Federer and Kei Nishikori. It would not be a surprise if the eventual tournament winner comes out of this quarter of the draw.

My projected quarterfinals
Murray vs. Nishikori
Kyrgios vs. Cilic
Zverev vs. Raonic
Thiem vs. Djokovic

My projected round of 16
Murray vs. Inser
Federer vs. Nishikori
Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios
Sock vs. Cilic
Zverev vs. Monfils
Bautista Agut vs. Raonic
Thiem vs. Goffin
Dimitrov vs. Djokovic

Watch out for the Croats: The Croats could make some noise on the bottom half of the draw. We never know what to expect from Monfils and that could open the door for Coric. A Coric-Zverev fourth round match would be an amazing match-up to kick off the second week of the major. Ivo Karlovic could also do some damage. He has a couple of easy first rounds and then would play Goffin and Thiem, who both have very poor records against big servers.

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