At each Grand Slam we ask whether someone outside the top 4 will take the title. Federer and Djokovic have done most of their prep on the practice courts although Djokovic took advantage of an exhibition event to get a little gentle match practice. Murray successfully defended his title in Brisbane and Nadal laid on a beach somewhere hot.
Section 1 of the draw is headed by defending champion Djokovic. He should get past Mathieu, Harrison and Troicki to meet Sam Querrey in the 4th round. An excellent chance for some revenge there assuming the big American makes it that far.
In the other half of this section I’d expect either Monaco or Anderson to reach the 4th round. My money’s on Anderson unless Goffin or Malisse can have an exceptional tournament. Berdych is always capable of an early exit but since 2007 he has failed to reach the 4th round just once and has got as far as the quarter finals for the past 2 years.
Predicted 4th round match ups are Djokovic v Querrey and Melzer v Berdych. Melzer is the uncertain one in that prediction. He lost in the first round last year to Karlovic but did make the 4th round in 2011. That was his best perofmance at the OZ Open and usually exits in rounds 2 or 3.
Predicted quarter final : Djokovic v Berdych.
Section 2 of the draw belongs to David Ferrer. Despite being seen as almost purely a clay courter prior to the last couple of seasons Ferrer has an excelent record at this tournament. Since 2006 he has reached at least the 4th round in 5 of the 7 years. In the last 2 years he reached the semi final in 2011 and the quarter final last year. The players standing in his way of repeating that success are probably Baghdatis who has started the year well and Nishikori. Ferrer and Nishikori will meet in the 4th round as long as Baghdatis and Youzhny respectively can be defeated.
The bottom half of this section looks a little weak. The main contenders are Tipsarevic and Almagro. The Spaniard would have to have a nightmare not to reach the 4th round with Johnson, Kubot and Phau his likely opponents. There are a few scattered banana skin matches for Tipsarevic with local hero Hewitt in the first round and perhaps Dimitrov in the 3rd. To justify his top 10 ranking he really ought to be joining Almagro in the 4th round although it should be noted that he has never been past the third round of this event.
Predicted 4th round match ups are Ferrer v Nishikori and Almagro v Tipsarevic.
Predicted quarter final : Ferrer v Tipsarevic.
Section 3 is where we find Andy Murray. In 2010 and 2011 he reached the final and last year was knocked out in the semi final by Djokovic 7-5 in the 5th set. This year he almost has byes into the third round ( cue a first round exit to Haase! ) and assuming he gets there I’d expect it to be Florian Mayer waiting for him. Simon and Monfils are perhaps his only worries. The French dou are on target to meet in round 3 with the winner playing Murray in the 4th.
The other part of this section is dominated by Del Potro. From the second round onwards the Argentine has very competent opponents and could face big serving Becker in round 2, Granollers in the third and Cilic in the 4th. Cilic didn’t play last year but has consistently reached the 4th round the 4 previous years and got as far as the semi final in 2010 where he lost to Murray. Seppi could get in Cilic’s way in the third round.
Predicted 4th round match ups are Del Potro v Cilic and Simon v Murray.
Predicted quarter final: Del potro v Murray.
That just leaves section 4. which looks pretty strong. Federer heads the list. He will probably meet Davydenko in the second round. The Russian has looked in decent form but I can’t see him troubling Federer over 5 sets. A few people are getting excited about the prospect of Fed and Tomic meeting in the third round. Tomic has played well in 2013 but still has a long way to go before he is ready to beat Federer in a Grand Slam even if it is in his home country.
Federer’s opponent in the 4th round is likely to be the winner of the Raonic v Kohlschreiber match which is a tough one to call but Kohlschreiber must have a great chance when you look at his recent form.
In the rest of this section Tsonga is odds on to reach the 4th round. Llodra in his opening match could be tricky as he will probably serve well but as this isn’t being played in France he won’t be able to sustain a high enough level to beat Tsonga over 5 sets.
The other 4th round spot is likely to be between Haas and Gasquet. Gasquet doesn’t have an amazing record ay the Oz Open. He has reached the 4th round on 3 occasions including last year but usually runs out of energy. I give Haas the edge if they meet in round 4.
Predicted 4th round match ups are Tsonga v Haas and Kohlschreiber v Federer.
Predicted quarter final: Tsonga v Federer.
I would expect Djokovic to beat Ferrer in their semi final. In the other half of the draw I think Del Potro could upset Murray’s plans in the quarter final. Most likely is a Federer v Del Potro semi final. I think we could see a Djokovic v Del Potro final with the Serb defending his title.