It is really hard to believe that the 2011 Australian Open is only a couple of weeks away now. It seems like just last month Roger Federer was celebrating his ass-kicking of Andy Murray and an almost picture perfect run down under. This year, the game has changed, well sorta, we still have the usual suspsects at the top and a few up and comers with the hunger to wipe out those that have been there before.
Lets take a look at, American, Mardy Fish. Fish had a pretty spectacular 2010 tennis season, capturing 2 singles titles (Atlanta and Newport) with wins over Roddick, Isner, Gasquet, Murray, and Verdasco to name a few. In early 2010, Fish worked hard in losing some of that extra weight he had been carrying around which really affected his tennis performance. Could he actually win the AO? Probably not, don’t worry, it’s not like we don’t believe in his ability to win, we just think that at this stage of the tennis game, majors is not Fish’s cup of tea. Though there is the possibility that he can surprise the world and pull off the ultimate victory, he is a hardcourt specialist after all, right?
Who else has the funk? Nadal, of course. Oh Nadal, such a grinder and a crowd pleaser with those insane top spin shots of his. Last year, we all know, he retired early with knee pains, leaving the door open for Murray.However much pain he was in, you surely would not have noticed with the incredible run he had later that year, winning nearly every tennis tournament he entered (most notably, French, Wimbledon, and US Open). What could possibly prevent him from winning another title in Australia? Health. Nadal runs around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, scrambling side to side, sliding, jumping, changing directions; which has affected his joints forcing him to do the unthinkable…retire. Though in the off season, Nadal has been working extremely hard towards being 100% healthy and being ready for the beginning of a calendar slam (all 4 majors in a calendar year), so Nadal says. Is it possible? Yes, it’s possible but more unlikely.
Andy Roddick come to mind for Aussie contenders. Roddick finished the 2010 tennis season with something left to be desired, oh and not to mention the fact that he had a mild case of the “kissing disease” mononucleosis. Roddick’s camp has said that he is back to full health and is “hungrier” than ever to have a season at full throttle. We’ll see ladies and gents, Roddick has generally performed well in Australia, making the semifinals four times (’03, ’05, ’07, and ’09) with losses to Federer, Cilic, Hewitt, and Shuttler. Can Roddick get his game together to go the distance? Well the United States hopes so, Roddick was the last American to win a singles grand slam title, so they are in need of a boost. The weapons that Roddick does have are well known (serve and forehand), however; most tennis players have picked up on his game, able to out play Roddick on serve. The key to Roddick’s success at any tournament is the desire to actually win, Roddick needs to chase down as many balls as possible, and needs to construct points against the big guys.
The other two Americans that come to mind are big man, John Isner and California boy, Sam Querry. Both of these tennis players have been making their marks on the tennis circuit in 2009 and 2010, however; they seem to still be a bit green when it comes to majors. When playing against the top 10, both Isner and Querry have their moments, but lack the experience that their opponents have (16 majors anybody?), therefore it may not be their time to go up against the big guns of the tennis tour. Perhaps in a couple of years when Federer has retired and Nadal has slowed down a bit, either of them could be some serious contenders for major victories.
Let’s move on to the great white hype, Andy Murray. We absolutely love this guys tennis game, however; there is just something about him that makes us think that he won’t be able to pull it off in his career. Murray has had so much pressure from his country to win a slam, that it could possibly be distracting him from actually playing good enough to win. Look at 2009 Wimbledon tennis championships…semifinals. The buzz at the time was if he wins the semis and he makes it to the final the Queen will be attending for the first time in a million years, and ticket prices selling for 30 times their face value – if he makes it to the final. Talk about pressure! No wonder he choked. It feels like he has that major monkey on his back that he just can’t shake off. Can he actually pull it together and finally show the UK that he means business? It should not have to be like that! He’s already risen in the ranks and has been in two major finals (AO and USO). So give the guy a break and let him play tennis the way he wants and he just might bring back the trophy.
Do we even need to discuss Roger Federer? How about a little discussion? Ok, sounds good. We all know that he’s won Australia enough times for a couple of tennis careers but hey, he wants to keep playing. It is difficult to elaborate on what could stop Federer, it can’t be the likes of Roddick, Murray, Cilic, Verdasco, etc. they just get dismantled. Did you noticed that we didn’t mention Nadal? That could possibly be the only person on this planet that can take down Federer in a tennis fight. Most of Federer’s losses come from the Spaniard, so we would certainly drool over the potential Aussie final of Nadal and Federer – in top form we hope.
Let’s not forget Novak Djokovic! He is one of our top picks to win in Australia in 2011, why? Simply because he has won it before. Even though we are not big fans of his tennis game, we do admire his desire to go out there and grind until he is completely spent from trying. Djokovic does have quite the variety in his tennis game, with the ability to place serves well, hit the appropriate shots, and best of all coming back from what would seem like a sure loss. He could do it, but ‘buyer beware’ of his nasal/allergy problems which have played a significant role in his chances of winning more majors. Other than the breathing problem, Djokovic has not had many other ailments that have prevented him from winning. He did have a pretty good tennis year in 2010, making it to the US Open final (loss to Nadal) and winning a handful of other tennis tournaments. The problem we foresee in Djokovic’s game in 2011 is his conditioning, if you recall, he retired early in 2009 because it was “too hot” for him to handle – granted it was something like 120 degree on court. He will have to stay hydrated and need to take in a lot of calories to stay the distance. So we’ll see what happens with him in 2011.
Who else is left on our list of contenders….Robin Soderling. The Swede has a chance, beating both Nadal and Federer at the French (not in the same year though) and hitting some major ground strokes to throw even the most seasoned tennis pro off balance. But again, like the others, Soderling just does not have the experience to go out there and close the deal. Soderling is pretty much a one trick pony, with his big forehand and that’s about it really. Not the best at net or a lot of variety on serve, so most tennis players have already picked up on his game. He does stand a chance against the lower ranked tennis players but against the top seeds, he will more than likely struggle.
All in all, it will be a spectacular tennis championship, we are putting our money on a Federer-Nadal final, 5 sets. What we have written is TennisThis’ opinion and should not be taken literally, however; we are confident with our Australian Open predictions. We will take a closer look when the draws have been released and will have a better picture of the potential people that will get bumped out. So stay tuned for more 2011 Australian Open predictions.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.