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2010 Australian Open - Men's Preview
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The 2009 tennis season was so eventful and unpredictable that the current season promises a natural extension of the fighting spirit, ferocity, cut-throat competition and the drama we witnessed during the entire past year. A mere look the draw makes one pick six of the elite men - Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic, Del Potro and Davydenko, but here's the truth, the challenger brigade headed by the likes of Soderling and Verdasco is equally fierce and hungry for Grand Slam glory as any of these mentioned Gentlemen.
I fail to understand why everybody keeps talking about Roger Federer and his ever-existent chances at the year's first Grand Slam. To me, he is the least favourable of the entire lot to pick up the title. Federer is all set to slug it out with Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the man who beat him rather handily in the pair's last two meetings. If things go as expected, he might face a stiff challenge of Serbian Novak Djokovic, the 2008 champion. Djokovic has been very dominant towards the end of the year and has produced exciting results on the slow-paced hard courts. Out of the six men, Djokovic has got the easiest draw, with the only major challenge coming from Swede Robin Soderling in a possible quarterfinal clash.
Unfortunately, the same can most certainly not be said about the defending champion Rafael Nadal, who could not have been given a more difficult draw. Nadal may be required to fend off the challenge of players like Radek Stepanek and Ivo Karlovic in the first week, and will then be pitted against the mighty Scot Andy Murray, who is a different player altogether. Nadal is fast approaching the form that saw him emerge victorious in last year's championship, and there's a possibility that he will find ways to overcome the challenge of Scot Murray, though to the Spaniard's dismay, a possible clash with Del Potro might just change the equations completely. The tall Argentine who regales the third quarter of the draw will most likely meet Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, although a partially healed wrist injury may come in U.S. Open champion's way.
It is indeed a tough task to pick possible semifinalists out of the four quarters, but keeping the current form in mind, the Melbourne heat is likely to shine bright on Davydenko and Djokovic in the top half and Del Potro and Nadal in the bottom half.
There are many reasons why Nadal is still a favourite over Murray. As opposed to the fast paced hard-courts, the favourable surface at the Melbourne Park will help Nadal return more balls in play. Additionally, the court coverage has always been the Spaniard's strongest point, which provides an obvious inclination in critics' minds towards Nadal for the possible semifinal spot.
There are a few names which can be considered the most dangerous to any elite player on a given day. Fernando Verdasco, Robin Soderling, Marin Cilic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and last but not the least, Andy Roddick, are some of those players who can change the equations entirely to stage the crowning of a first time Aussie Open champion. Despite the uncertainty of the first week, the 2010 Australian Open is blessed with one of the best quarterfinal line-ups one could ever fancy.
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