Grand Slam tennis is back after a long hiatus. The Australian Open 2012 will commence on 16th January 2012 in Melbourne. The 14 day tennis extravaganza, played on the hard court at Melbourne Park in the Australian summer promises to be a real treat for tennis fans across the world.
Needless to say, this is the first of the Tennis Grand Slams and will set the tone of the circuit for the next 12 months.
To have a quick flashback of Australian Open 2011, Novak Djokovic of Serbia emerged triumphant in the men's draw. Kim Clijsters of Belgium was the winner in women's draw.
Let's have a look on how the things can possibly shape up this year?
To begin with, let us check the men's draw. Going by the form book, Novak Djokovic - a.k.a. Djoker - is the top seed. After him is the Spanish maestro Rafael Nadal, the Swiss champ Roger Federer, and the British hopeful Andy Murray.
|Djoker Novak Djokovic|
Djoker would be looking to win the Australian Open back to back. In Djoker's quarter, you have Andy Roddick (seeded 15th), the unseeded Aussie stalwart Lleyton Hewitt and the 5th seed David Ferrer of Spain. If Novak plays true to his form, he should emerge as a victor in this quarter.
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Djoker Vs David Ferrer.
Andy Murray plays in the second quarter. He is quite lucky to be placed in a quarter devoid of any big guns. The only person who can give him a run for his money is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. The big serving maverick French can upset Murray to make it to the semi finals.
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Andy Murray Vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Roger Federer is another lucky guy. He too has a relatively easy quarter. I hope that he plays his effortless game to move easily into the quarters. His strong opponents in this quarter are Mardy Fish of the USA (seeded 8th) and Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina (seeded 11th).
However, Federer should be able to get past them to setup a showdown with Rafa in the semi finals.
|Roger Federer Fedex|
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Roger Federer Vs Mardy Fish.
Rafael Nadal promises to steam roll in the last quarter. He may have to deal with the unseeded Tommy Haas of Germany as early as the 2nd round. However, once he gets past Tommy, his only major opponent on the ways to the semi-finals will possibly be Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic (seeded 7th)
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Rafael Nadal Vs Tomas Berdych.
It would be worthwhile to note the champions in Men's singles in the last 3 months. In Nov 2011, at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, Fedex emerged as triumphant beating Tsonga. In Dec 2011, Spain won the Davis Cup with Rafa at the helm.
|Rafa Rafael Nadal|
In the 2012 ATP tour, Andy Murray, Tsonga and Ferrer have one each tournament each. Milos Raonic of Canada won the Chennai Open 2012 and is seeded 23rd in the Australian Open. Jarkko Nieminen of Finland won the Apia International Sydney and is unseeded in the Australian Open.
Let us know check the women's singles draw.
Caroline Wozniacki, ranked number one in the world, is the top seed. She is placed in a very tough quarter. Li Na of China (seeded 5th), Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia (seeded 20th), the defending champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium (seeded 11th) and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia (seeded 13th) will be running her close.
Wozniacki has never won a Grand Slam and that is bound to play on her mind. If she gets past Li Na, the defending French Open Champion, she may well be on course to her maiden Grand Slam title.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (seeded 3rd) plays in the second quarter. She has a slightly easier quarter. She will have to deal with Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland (seeded 8th) and Francesca Schiavone of Italy (seeded 10th).
The bottom half of this quarter is most likely to see some upsets and it would be difficult to predict Azarenka's opponent in the Quarters.
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Victoria Azarenka Vs Ms. Unknown.
In the third quarter, Maria Sharapova of Russia (seeded 4th) will battle it out against her compatriots Vera Zvonareva (seeded 7th) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (seeded 18th), and the big serving Serena Williams (seeded 12th). Maria will have to prove her mettle to emerge as the winner in this quarter.
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Maria Sharapova Vs Serena Williams.
In the final quarter, Petra Kvitova (seeded 2nd) of the Czech Republic will be pitched against the home crowd favorite Samantha Stosur (seeded 6th) of Australia. Giving them tough competition are Nadia Petrova (seeded 29th) of Russia, the French lady Marion Bartoli (seeded 9th), the Serbian beauty Ana Ivanovic (seeded 21st), and Maria Kirilenko (seeded 27st) of Russia.
My quarter final line up for this quarter is - Petra Kvitova Vs Samantha Stosur.
|Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych|
Let's have a look at the form book of the players in the last 3 months. Petra Kvitova won the year end Championships in Istanbul in October 2011 defeating Azarenka.
And in the 3 WTA tournaments played in 2012, the only notable name to emerge as a winner is Victoria Azarenka in the Apia International Sydney. Jie Zheng and Kaia Kanepi were the other two winners. This shows that upsets are not at all common in the WTA tour.
Finally, here is a look at the winners of the 2011 Grand Slams.
|2011 Grand Slam Winners|
Djoker has been tremendously consistent in the men's draw. The women's draw is seeing some intense competition with the 4 slams seeing 4 different winners.
And if I have to choose two among the elite 128 who can possibly emerge as winners, I would choose Djoker and Rafa in the men's draw, and Wozniacki and Azarenka in the women's draw. The seeded outsiders will be Fedex and Maria Sharapova.
|Roger Federer Maria Sharapova|
To conclude, the next two weeks promise to produce some exciting tennis. The temperature is expected to soar upto 35 degrees C during the day, and fall upto 12 degrees C during the evening. But be it day or night, our classy tennis players are all geared up to set the court on fire.
May the best man and lady win.
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