The Oz Open draw is out. In the first sign the world is changing, Rafa and Roger are in the same half of the draw.
Draw overview: Q1: Djokovic will be hard at work — red-hot Milos Raonic and David Ferrer are in his quarter. Q2: Rafa has a softer quarter with 7 qualifiers — Isner or Berdy could pose a threat. Still, so long as Isner doesn’t stop him, it should be straightforward. Q3: Roger faces potential threats in Fish and Dolgopolov or Tomic, possibly DelPo too, depending on his form. Honestly, I don’t think Dolgo will pose too much of a threat and the odds are fairly low that DelPo would either. Barring injury or a walkabout, Roger looks the likely semi-finalist here. Q4: Along with Djokovic, Muzz has a tough quarter — he starts with Ryan Harrison and faces potential matches with Gilles Simon and Tsonga.
1. How did the man from Tandil fare? DelPo has a R1 match against Adrian Mannarino, the man of the mullet. DelPo lost to Mannarino last year at Queens. Mannarino also upset Kevin Anderson at Auckland. I don’t know what will happen. Just make it to R2, DelPo!
2. If he gets through Mannarino, and he may very well not, he has a likely R2 encounter with Blaz Kavcic, whom he beat last year at Roland Garros. Just make it to R3, DelPo!
3. DelPo could be set for a R3 match with Florian Mayer (ugh) and a R4 match with Mardy Fish (double ugh). Something tells me DelPo might fall in R4 to Mardy, unless he falls first to Florian Mayer in R3. Just make it to the R4/QF, DelPo?!
4. If — if — if DelPo played well enough to reach the QF, he could potentially face Roger. The last time DelPo & Roger played at the Oz Open in ’09, Roger inflicted a humiliating defeat with a double bagel to boot. It was ugly. This year, I will be over the roof if DelPo is on the court for a QF, even if it means him receiving another double serving of bagels.
Here are some exciting early round matches to catch:
- A potential R2 match between Dr. Youzhny and Gasquet. Fans of the 1HBH, rejoice!
- R1 match between Pico and Kohlschreiber, in a precursor to the DC tie in February.
- Verdasco vs. Tomic in R1. This could be a firecracker of a match. Fer’s temper vs. Tomic’s indifferent cool.
- Proof that the draw gods have a dark sense of humor: Nico Almagro vs. Lukasz Kubot in R1. Nico won his warm-up tourny at Nice before falling in R1 at the 2011 Roland Garros in 5 sets (after being 2 sets up) to Kubot.
- A potential R3 encounter between Dolgo and Tomic. It will be curious to see how Tomic fares at this year’s Oz Open, given the hype surrounding him.
- A potential R2 between Hewitt and Roddick. Though this “veterans’ rivalry” doesn’t have the same tension (and history of animosity) of Hewitt-Nalbandian, it could turn out to be a classic encounter à la Hewitt-Nalby’s R1 5-set match in 2011.