AusOpen 2016: My prediction


This year will be the first time in maybe 10 years when my attendance at the tournament will be minimal and limited to attending on Australia Day in the format of a group outing using ground passes…

The reason for this is mainly that I have other priorities for this January/February period, namely being a member of a team going to Cambodia in February as part of the Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip program. Whilst I do intend to follow matches as much as possible on the free-to-air television channels and iPad Channel 7 app, each time Facebook reminds me that x years ago, I was at the tennis, my heart aches…

For a change, I am going to make a prediction on who I think will take home the cool $3.8M prize money as the tournament champion – Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams for the men’s and women’s single competitions respectively. You could say that this is a boring prediction… But the reality is that both players are in top form. Whilst my heart says Roger Federer stands a good chance to set the record of oldest grand slam title winner, my mind guides me to conclude that Novak will likely beat him in a four-set semi-final before going on to best Andy Murray in the final. If Roger can beat Novak in the semi-final showdown, he has a high chance of beating Andy in the final.

A lot of top seeded players will bring a high quality game to Melbourne Park over the next fortnight. In the last two years, my attention has also been drawn to Japan’s hero in Kei Nishikori, who I think is also on the rise. I think the first quarter of the draw will be decided between Novak and Kei, with the strong favorite being Novak. Kei will probably put up a good challenge but I think he is still some way off what it takes to beat Novak. If Kei can play outstanding tennis and build up a good momentum AND Novak has an off day, this could be the upset of the tournament… This scenario however is unlikely in my opinion, although I look forward to this face off and will support both, not really caring who wins.

The second quarter is Roger’s for the taking since he will likely face Tomas Berdych. These two have faced off a lot over the years but I think, with no disrespect to Tomas and his form, that Roger will prevail, probably in a four or five set match. After all, the number of times I have seen Roger mis-time and hit questionable shots and create unforced errors is not unheard of… However, I think it is fair to also say that in recent years, Roger has corrected these annoying habits…

Rafael Nadal should be competitive but I suspect he will fall short of the ultimate finals prize. I think Stan Wawrinka will give Nadal a good five-set challenge and possibly prevail to face Andy Murray, who should be able to come out on top of his quarter-final play off against David Ferrer – another four or five set match. The big question here is whether Stan can beat Andy to set up his second Grand Slam finals, this time against Novak. Novak, given his top form, should prevail in this scenario, particularly if the Wawrinka – Murray semi-final becomes an epic five-set duel.

Of course, this prediction assumes all the top seeded players remain undefeated for their respective quadrants of the draw. Wildcards include our local favorite Lleyton Hewitt who will surely like to retire and bring his 20-year playing career to a noble close with a respective finals-level exit. Many of the top seeds beyond the initial eight mentioned above stand a good chance to upset the incumbent players. Local media play up the chances of lower ranked players like Nick Krygios and Bernand Tomic, so there will be a lot of competitive matches played out in the first three rounds.

The 2015 tournament saw less playing hours in that there were very few five-set thrillers lasting into the early hours of the morning. I am torn on whether I want to see many of these five-set matches – on the one hand I would love to watch these epic on-court rallies and amazing tennis, but on the other hand my selfish spectator also wants quick decisive matches where I can sleep at reasonable hours given the next day is likely to be a work day, with my routine 6am wake-up… Last year this reality and time constraint saw me leave Rod Laver before the end of one match – my excuse was that it as not a finals match and none of the top seeded players were playing…

I wish all the players a successful tournament and may the best man (and woman) win.

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