The 2017 Australian Open Draw

Let’s get it on.

Murray: In the top half of the draw, the Scot has a tough route for his quest to win a fourth major and first Australian Open. Here’s how his quarter should play-out.

australian-openHe opens with Illya Marchenko, a Ukrainian who made the AO 2nd round in ’10 and ’11. Murray gets a breather in R64 and then he should see Querrey or the young Frenchman Halys in R32, Pouille/Isner in R16 with a potentially big QF v Nishikori, Berdych or Federer.

Looked at from the bottom of that quarter, Federer should see Berdych in R32. Chew on that. Those two played in the QF last year, but
with Federer’s deserved 17-seed, he needs to slide into form early or he’s out. You and I like his chances against Berdych, but this is no easy draw for the 35 year-old. The winner of that match gets Nishikori in R16, the winner to almost certainly play Murray in that top QF.

So, Murray has Pouille, Federer, Berdych and Nishikori as big threats.

Wawrinka: The Swiss 4-seed has a fairly lighter draw, compared to Murray, but then again with such draw mystery and Stan’s unpredictable form, who knows. He certainly has potential fireworks in a R16 match with Kyrgios who’s lurking as a 14-seed with a lot to prove and seemingly comfortable playing at home. Cuevas, Troicki, and Johnson are in that bracket as potential spoilers; that aside, we hope to see Stan finding form as he squares-up with the uber talented (ill-mannered) Aussie in that match to decide one half the 2nd QF.

The other half of that quarter will see Cilic attempt some semblance of respectable tennis, the kind we know he has in him, sorta, we guess. Looks like he’s in like-minded company with the guys such as Tsonga and Tomic in that draw. All this means is there are guys who can rise-up and be very difficult outs. Tsonga, on a downward trajectory, might have one or two big runs in him left, and Tomic, like Kyrgios, could keep his shit together, act like a man and be a dangerous opponent for anyone in Melbourne.

Beyond those three musketeers, this bracket has some other threats: Jack Sock is looking to close-out his win in Auckland in that AO warm-up, looking pretty good despite the warm-up talent there, but still: he’s maturing, has a solid serve, huge FH and works to develop that BH along with his Bo5 fitness. He can be dangerous. Along with Sock, speaking of AO warm-ups, the British former (or occasional) squash player Daniel Evans is closing-in on the crown at the Sydney warm-up, the APIA International. He plays big serving Gilles Muller in the final.

We’ve talked Evans here before, from him holding MP vs Stan at the USO last September to Federer looking good in a victory over the Brit at the Hopman Cup a couple of weeks ago. As I said then, it was a shot-making clinic, the squash player’s ability to shape the ball a nice complement to some of the Maestro’s touch.

Cilic has Evans in R64 and that’s if the Croatian 7-seed can take care of Jerzy Janowicz, a guy who’s big game has seen the 3R at the AO as recently as 2015. In other words, Cilic will be tested early and often.

People want to say the QF here is Wawrinka or Kyrgios v Cilic. Kyrgios is a sexy pick given the context but that guy could easily implode in a match against Wawrinka, especially since a good Stan will probably take you, at least, into a 5th and decider. A lot of opportunity for Nick to counter his explosive tennis with some explosive immaturity (big stage, big stakes, big lights, potential 3-4 hour match. . .). Again, may seem like a straight-forward bracket, but there are a lot of players in here with no one who seemingly has the consistency to really stand above the throng.

Raonic: This is the weakest bracket in the tournament. Raonic’s huge serving professionalism will get him into the R16 vs Zverev, Monfils or Nadal (I suspect) and onto the QF, most likely. You probably know where I stand on Monfils and Nadal. I don’t trust either one (the former because of his Kyrgios-like instability and Nadal because of his form). Zverev is still quite young so you have to factor that in, but he should beat Nadal in that R32 show-down.

Outside of that, what else do you see? I guess Bautista Agut could give Raonic some difficulty (or Simon? Not). Raonic fell in Brisbane while the 13-seed Spaniard continues to show-up and find victories, winning Chennai last week. Has Raonic’s coaching changes perhaps affected him poorly? We suspect he’ll be fine in this format, on this surface.

Seeing Zverev emerge from the top would be a good development though I know a lot of people would like to see Rafa make a run.

Djokovic: This doesn’t look like a tough draw at all. People could get their panties in a bunch regarding his first round “re-match” with Verdasco, but who thinks the Spaniard really has a chance in this match? Sure the Serb has a habit of starting slowly in tournaments, but this certainly should wake him up. He’ll want to punish the dangerous Spaniard for his insolence in Doha. Of course, you and I both know the poetic justice here would be the Spaniard “setting the record straight” against the sneaky Serb who escaped FIVE MPs in that Doha SF 😉

But the defending champion here should clean-up his act against Fernando and move-on.

Of course, there’s a 3R match, Djokovic vs. Dimitrov, that makes this blog ring again with its steady prescience. Too much to ask from the Bulgarian I suppose, but I certainly hope he’s on his game. If that BH is working along with the rest of his arsenal, he’s moving like he does, keeps his head in the match (fortitude), could be a classic. I love it. Especially since that’s the title of a recent post that I penned (almost) jokingly 😉

Thiem? I don’t see it. Hopefully he’s in better form. Watch the difference in style between Thiem and Dimitrov, both OHBH practitioners. Dimitrov has so much more behind the shot, meaning his movement and versatility. Thiem’s execution is too slow, or was in 2016.

Goffin doesn’t concern me (prove me wrong) and I don’t necessarily guarantee Thiem reaching the QF. Which means that’s a shitshow, pretty much.

Djokovic v Dimitrov is (hopefully) about as good as it gets down there.

One player who could upset the Serbian-Bulgarian tilt is Gasquet. I could see him beating Dimitrov, which would be a disaster as the vacillating Frenchman would then retreat to the loo for the remainder of the tournament. Give me Djoker v Grigor!

Seems fairly likely a 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 semi-finals plays-out. But it’s tennis and the winds of change are always blowing. Stan seems the likely uncertainty, Murray perhaps the most certain to reach the final four. What say you, dear reader?

Many many interesting storylines.

Stay tuned.

10 thoughts on “The 2017 Australian Open Draw

  1. Caligula

    Looking forward to that potential 3R Dimitrov/Djokovic bout! Again, no excuses for the fangirls, the Djoker has on paper an easy route to the semi-final despite his nr. 2 seed, in fact he has been very lucky in that regard for the last couple of years as nr. 1, but his luck of the draw won’t last forever. This also does tamper with my prediction of the Serb exiting in the semis because I thought that he would get a rawer deal as nr. 2 seed this time around.

    Old behemoth Nadal can start packing, this is not his surface, not anymore and it seems that injury/fatigue may just creep up on him at any moment. As much as I miss the good old days when he could pull of the seemingly impossible on court against some of the greatest players of all time, he is but a former shadow of himself, goodnight sweet prince…

    As for Murray I agree that this no cakewalk, but it should in theory be expected of him to dispatch with most of these guys, I know Pouille could be an interesting opponent as he showed great promise last year, but Murray is no Nadal, so I would expect him to wipe the floor with the young Frenchman. I don’t see Isner being a problem unless he serves out of this world (which he has a habit of doing!) then that could mean trouble for the Scot. Nishikori is a mystery to me, last year he defeats Murray in five sets at the US OPEN, but he can implode at any moment and is too unpredictable, so who knows how far he will come.

    Wawrinka’s form is not always easy to judge, but I would think he would want to teach Kyrgios some manners considering what has transpired between these two players in the past. If Wawrinka should reach the quarters I don’t see the Kyrgios having a prayer.
    And as for Grandmaster Federer, I will just enjoy seeing the maestro play. This is a man who can feel the vibration of each hair on the tennis ball, he is Neo of the Matrix! I think we all know that his wisdom and technique is nigh unmatched, so even if he should exit earlier than expected I will still cheer for the old king.

    Fingers crossed for a competitive tournament, and thanks for the quality write up Matt!


    1. Dimitrov take care of Gasquet. That worries me a bit. We need Djokovic v Dimitrov! Ha ha.
      Murray does seem the certainty but how rich would a Fed v Murray QF be? Wow.
      Stan’s draw is loaded if you ask me IF those guys come to play. Not sure of Tomic’s form but he can be tough
      and you’d think he and Kyrigos would want to represent, but that seems crazy to expect that.

      Let’s just see the Djoker tested. That’s all. His draw is a cakewalk unless Dimitrov can find the class needed to go 4 or 5 with the Djoker.
      Otherwise, Djoker v Raonic I guess.

      Let’s hope for some big time drama Down Undah!


      1. Caligula

        Indeed! Who knows I did have visions of Djoker losing to a strong server, someone whos last name ended with a “c”! XD Raonic should suffice!

        Also, par for the course we have the loonie toons of the tennis blogging world proclaiming shady doings in regards to the draw and and how Federer is getting two qualifiers whilst the Djoker will face a revengeful Verdasco! Oh my! Ha Ha!


  2. blackspy

    Thankfully Matt, your blog is here to add some perspective to the current crop of the ATP tour (see “Djokovic/Federer/Nadal is back” paranoia). Save 1-2 peculiar scenarios, I don’t see many surprises to the forthcoming Oz so I’ll comment on the warm-up tournaments results and the draw which in fact didn’t change much.
    I saw the complete Doha final and, as both you&Caligula stated already, I wasn’t impressed. Novak didn’t get his invincibility aura back as some have suggested. He remains an excellent player and a favorite for the Australian Slam but didn’t anybody notice that during the Doha tourney he lost 4 games in row in three separate matches? He was present to take advantage of his opponents’ (Murray,Verdasco) indecision/lack of attacking flare and this is a good sign for him, but he isn’t really close to the dominant Novak we knew (he retains an excellent balance between offence/defence and his love for rope-a-dope tacticts). Although impropable, an in-form opponent with cheeky attitude could throw him out of his most succesful slam.
    Murray should learn by this match to take things at hand at critical moments and incorporate a few more attacking elements in his game(maybe use his excellent touch with more net foreys?). His defence is reminiscent of Nadal’s(feeling good for my FO prediction now!) and his counter-punching second to none, but he needs to find a way to dominate proceedings when things seem to go his way(a basic attacking plan). His 1rst serve is clearly improved (his second too, but more progress is not impossible there) and his athletisism is top-notch but he should save some of his stamina by reducing his rallies with a bit attacking tennis. Outlasting your opponent is a great proof of your work at the gym/practice court but I doubt that should be the basic plan of any tennis player. Most importantly, Andy has improved his mental status: Novak’s mental tricks didn’t seem to have the effect they had in the past on him and his rantings are greatly reduced (if this is the Lendl effect he is worth every penny he gets).
    Save Dimitrov, whose game and progress you already analysed, there no more news from the warm-up tourneys since Federer and Nadal fared as I expected. Onto the draw:
    Q1: Murray’s path to the final is ok maybe with a tough QF or SF-but I wouldn’t bet against him at any match on this surface and with his current form. Federer got an easy start but his draw is very hard facing possibly 5 top ten seeds in his way to the trophy-most propably his path will stop at R4 or QF to boost Murray’s confidence.
    Q2: Wawrinka may be the top seed but as always he’s unpredictable and this quarter has quality players. If he’s in Stanimal mode you know who the AusOpen winner will be, if not there are many contenders(Kyrgios, Cilic, Tomic, Tsonga) whose game fits the surface.
    Q3: Raonic may be the top seed and he’s as steady as it gets, but there are in form players here as Zverev, RBA who like the surface and may give him trouble. If he reaches the quarters he’ll take out Nadal again most probably-provided Rafael reaches QF.
    Q4: Djokovic has a rematch with Verdasco (whom most probably he’ll treat seriously this time and beat easily) and maybe a tough match with Dimitrov in R3. The seeded opponents of his quarter(Goffin, Thiem) are out of form at the moment and the rest are pretty mediocre on the surface so he should be able to ocercome them easily. Gasquet will test Dimitrov’s backhand but I think the Bulgarian should come on top.
    All in all, considering form and barring injuries-big time upsets the top duo should reach the final without much trouble. If it happens so, I think Murray may have a slight edge(provided he attacks a bit more).

    PS: Regarding your “betting” contest I’d advise you to put your money on Thiem 🙂


    1. Sounds good, blackspy. There will be a lot to discuss over the next couple of weeks. I will do my best to keep the conversation space open as we watch some big matches from R1 . . . on! R3 has some beauties across the board.

      We need a surprise, a player or two to rise-up, breakthrough, etc. When that happens, it tends to give the field life, energy. The upset bug can spread.

      Stay tuned!


  3. RJ

    Hey Matt! Got a lot of reading to catch up on.
    Will he heading to Melbourne tomorrow for some AO action and will provide some comments court side.


      1. RJ

        Matt, I could’ve sworn I wrote a comment about my day 2 live experience on the show courts via mobile but alas I’m not sure if you got it?
        Basically having ball and making most of my limited funds. Seeing Gasquet s OHBH in full flight was a thing of beauty. Early rounds so these nearly men and almost was have yet to be tested (the players I saw: Simon, Gasquet, Paire). My childhood fav Tommy Haas made it tough for Paire in that first set….What could have been in a career that was dogged by injuries.


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