So here we are with the first Major of the season. Will we see a repeat of last year’s final? I doubt it. Murray has been pushed down to number 5 in the world by Sweden’s Robin Soderling and I can see him dropping another place during 2011.
Nadal will be desperate to win as always but especially so he can hold all 4 majors at the same time. It doesn’t matter who is in his section of the draw as he will start as favourite against anyone except maybe Federer. Players in his part of the draw include Ferrer, Nalbandian, Youzhny and Isner but on recent form he is naturally a massive favourite to reach the semi finals at least. I don’t see any of those players beating him over a best of 5 set match ( assuming he is 100% fit)
Soderling has a great draw on first glances. His biggest threats if he is on top form may come from Murray, Baghdatis or maybe Melzer although the Austrian hasn’t been in the best form.
The third section of the draw is perhaps the most open. Djokovic heads the list. Other contenders include Berdych who has started the season fairly well. There is also Davydenko who is starting to get back to his best after a slow return to form. Gasquet can give anyone a game but lacks the staying power to progress too far. Tipsarevic and Verdasco have the potential but I wouldn’t expect too much from either. Almagro will probably get through 2 or 3 rounds but isn’t able to sustain the intensity required to go deep into a Major. Troicki is in decent form although has shown in today’s final that he lacks some mental toughness. He will probably meet Djokovic in round 3.
The final section of the draw contains world number 2 Federer. Probably most people’s favourite for the title and he is defending champ. Of the top 4 seeds I would say Federer actually has the toughest draw. Potential stumbling blocks come in the shape of Monfils and Roddick. There are also a few players who on their day can turn in a performance to trouble the top players without having a chance of stringing enough special matches together to compete for the title. These include Simon, Mardy Fish, Golubev and Malisse.
Its hard to predict the actual winner as its so early in the season but I don’t expect a surprise winner. One of the top 4 players will take it. Which of the top players will slip up? Best of 5 set matches allow quality to come through. It would be great to see Murray do well but its his attitude that can let him down. He is too quick to blame an illness or injury if he goes behind. His knee hurts or perhaps his wrist. Its guaranteed he’ll have face ache at some point during the tournament.
If I am pushed to pick an absolute winner………….Djokovic. He can struggle in the heat but seems to be dealing with it a little better recently. He will need to play the tournament of his life though.
Ok that has just about guaranteed he wont win so full banks on Fed and Nadal for the final!