In the bottom-half, they’re through two rounds and this is already what we see:
Cilic v Verdasco
RBA v Khachanov
Tsitsipas v Basiashvili
Fritz v Federer
Cilic is the 4th or 5th best player in the world, period. He’s been making big final rounds now for a few years. He was last year’s runner-up. Tabasco is always dangerous and we’ve already seen RBA play at a pretty high level this year; he’s the one who callously (I’m kidding) put a very early end to Murray’s wet blanket of a quasi-swan song. And he’s playing Khachanov. Wow. Loaded, ladies and gentlemen. The Greek and Georgian are for real, relatively speaking and then you have the young American who beat Isner last week in Sydney and just beat Monfils. Pardon me, but that represents hair on the balls, folks. Someone is starting to mature and the likes of Annacone in his camp is not hurting the young American. Of course, he’s squaring off with the Maestro.
Aside from there being a definitive depth of talent and danger left in that quarter, there are players in there who can absolutely beat Federer. He has no easy route to the SF.
Tiafoe v Seppi
Dimitrov v Fabbiano
Berdych v Schwartzman
de Minaur v Nadal
Unless Dimitrov is taking another step forward in his career, or de Minaur somehow has the heart to out-fight and out-play Nadal with a frenzied Aussie mob in-house to cheer him to victory, this group of guys don’t have a chance against the rampant Nadal — he’s already in that no bullshit Bo5 monster mode. A couple of things I see with him (saw him rag-doll Ebden a bit) is a solid serve, which we’re told he tweaked a bit for that one/two punch of his, which brings us to the “two”: his FH. He’s trying to absolutely end things with the FH. He’s even running around the BH. An improved serve, weakening his opponent’s return, and then ending the point with the unplayable FH is Nadal’s force right now. We know this.
He will have trouble playing guys with big, beautiful serves and who have the power and skill to take the ball early and keep him on his heels. A big offensive game is needed. No one in that quarter has such a game. Dimitrov can flirt, but Nadal will eat-up the BH unless Dimitrov is going to another level (very unlikely).
Dumbass Djokovic fans want to talk about the conspiracy, the fact, according to them, that Federer gets preferential treatment, owns Craig Tiley, etc. What about Nadalism? Among other factors, he almost always has a cupcake draw. I’m actually bored with it at this point it’s so common. Anderson would’ve made that quarter a little more interesting, but not exactly. Isner was a top seed in that quarter, too. A nine seed. Edmund, a 13 seed, fell to Berdych. Seppi? Fabbiano? GTFOH. Nadal spanks that kind of softness.
Just a weak ass draw.
Watch Djoker get upset in his potentially tough SF, Nadal survives the bottom, and wins the AO. Do not be shocked if this happens.
I’ve been laying this all out for you over the last couple of posts. You can do the math.