It’s back! Finally the 2013 tennis season has started with the “Happy Slam,” the 2013 Australian Open. I generally write my prediction of the tournament a week ahead of the start but this year there have been some personal things going on in my life that have prevented me from writing my predictions.
In any event, I did watch the first two days of the tournament (at least most of them – I’m on the West Coast and I just can’t stay awake like I used to) and the tournament is as impressive as I had imagined. Most everybody who I thought would make easy work of his or her 2013 Australian Open first round, did just that.
Almost all the seeded players made it through in straights. There were some upsets, like the 11 seed, Juan Monaco. He was blasted off the court by Andrey Kuznetsov, 7-6, 6-1, 6-1. A semi-shock loss of a seeded player came off the tennis racquet of Alexandr Dolgopolov. In a very exciting match up against returning Frenchman Gael Monfils, the two displayed very quick and acrobatic tennis. This was a crowd pleasing match, it did land in the favor of “Mr. Highlight Reel”, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3. I’m glad to see LeMonf back in action, his charismatic style of play is always entertaining to watch. I have a feeling the Frenchman is going to make a pretty good run at the 2013 Australian Open.
One other upset that stood out came from a battle of the geezers, Jarkko Nieminen (31) and Tommy Haas (34). It was a battle of the one-handed backhands. They toughed it out in a 3 hour 45 minute, 5 set match. It was entertaining to see the variety each player displayed. Serve and volley, chip and charge, baseline, and backhand specific exchanges. To me, this was a display of what tennis used to be. In the end, Jarkko broke the German serve in the 5th and ended with the match.
All of the top seeds cruised through their first rounds, Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Berdych, Ferrer, Tipsarevic, Del Potro, Tsonga, and Gasguet had straight set victories in their first round matches. The only player in the top 10 seeds who had trouble was Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. He faced up and coming American Stevie Johnson (from my neck of the woods no less). The two slugged it out on the, what seemed to be quicker, outside show courts for 5 sets. It was an impressive display from the American. His quick, aggressive style of play is admirable but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the more experienced tour vet Almagro. It was a good main draw debut for the American. I’m sure we’ll see him climb the rankings as the year progresses.
Another player who is starting to show promise is Australias’ wonder boy, Bernard Tomic. Sure, he’s been the buzz around the tennis world for misbehaving, showing a lack of commitment to the sport, called out on tanking a match, and just outright biting the hand that feeds him (Tennis Australia). Something must have clicked, or Pat Rafter put his tushy in line with some kind words, whoever showed up on court that night was somebody completely different. The kid was playing intelligent tennis, constructing points and out hitting his opponent. Tomic looked leaner and quicker on court. Keep on eye on this kid during the 2013 Australian Open, he might be a threat going into the first weekend of the tournament.
2013 Australian Open sans Rafael Nadal
The 2013 Australian Open is definitely different without the 2012 AO finalist, Rafael Nadal. It’s like it’s not a complete major without him. He’s missed by many of his fans and by the other players as well, “…he’s [Rafael Nadal] always good for the story and the tournament…” Roger Federer said on the absence of the world #4 Rafael Nadal from the 2013 Australian Open. The Spaniard has kept us up to date on his “condition,” stating to make a come back to the ATP 2013 calendar at the Costa do Sauipe in Brazil, starting February 11, 2013.
So far the 2013 Australian Open is looking pretty good. I am not having a sense of any upsets happening just yet. The second round will continue to separate the strong from the weak and I’ll have a better idea of what to predict for week 2 of the 2013 Australian Open.
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