Australian Open 2018 Men’s Draw Discussion Who Will Win Their Quarters?

Australian Open

Photo courtesy of Paodom.net

Tennis fans know only too well that our sport has no off season – the break between the last tour match of one season and the first official match of the next season is all of 42 days- but, while, it does seem harsh on players, one is hard pressed to fault ardent fans who – understandably – just cannot wait for the action to commence again.

And so here we are, the yearning is over, the New Year is upon us; as is the 2018 Australian Open.

World #2 Roger Federer is the defending men’s singles champion, and will be eager to “score” his Major trophy cabinet.

Andy Murray, a five-time runner-up Down Under, had to withdraw with a hip injury and has since had surgery. Murray is not the only big name absentee with Kei Nishikori also forced to miss the action with a wrist injury.

The 2018 Australian Open draw ceremony took place on Thursday, January 11 and the obvious question on everyone’s mind was, “Where, on the draw sheet, would the returning Novak Djokovic be?”

So, where did the 12-time Grand Slam champion land? And how is it for others? Christian Deverille, editor of The Tennis Review, and tennis aficionado Karthik Swaminathan dissect the draw and offer their thoughts.

First Quarter:

World number 1 Rafael Nadal drew Marin Cilic (6) as the next highest seed in his section. The Spaniard commences his campaign against Victor Estrella Burgos and could next face Leonardo Mayer in, what would be, a rematch of their faceoff at the Big Apple last year. Borna Coric lurks as a potential third round opponent, as does John Isner (16) or Diego Schwartzman (24) in the fourth.

Cilic kicks off his quest against Lu Yen-Hsun before possibly clashing with Joao Sousa in the second, Pablo Cuevas (31) in the third and Pablo Carreño Busta (10) in the pre-quarters. Gilles Simon, who beat the Croat enroute his Pune title, is also a prospective fourth round opponent.

Survivor: 

Christian’s pick – Marin Cilic– The Croat plays his best tennis in best of five at slams and with the surface reported to be as quick as last year, the 2010 semi-finalist has a good chance to make the semis here

Karthik’s pick – big servers could put the King of Clay in a spot of bother on a nippy court, but count against Rafael Nadal at your own risk

Second Quarter:

Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock are the highest seeds in this section, seeded three and eight respectively, and the pair will be confident having ended 2017 on a positive note.

The Bulgarian has a couple of qualifiers first up, but standing in his path to the quarterfinal are two of his recent conquerors, Andrey Rublev (R32), who beat him at the US Open, and Nick Kyrgios (R16), who recently defeated him in the Brisbane semis.

Sock, who is the highest ranked American in the draw, opens against Yuichi Sugita before potentially running into the near seven-feet tall Ivo Karlovic. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Kevin Anderson could, respectively, lie in wait in the third and fourth rounds.

As one may have noticed, this quarter is loaded with shot makers and popcorn first round encounters such as Ferrer-Rublev, Tsitsipas-Shapovalov and Anderson-Edmund.

Survivor: 

Christian’s pick – Grigor Dimitrov has the momentum after his great end to 2017  and his experience losing to Nadal in last year’s semis will motivate him to give himself another chance at the final

Karthik’s pick – Clearly, training at Rafa Nadal Academy has done him a world of good; Grigor Dimitrov looks set to change the order

Third Quarter:

Novak Djokovic, seeded 14, scored the best possible draw of those in the 13-16 bracket, drawing 4th seed Alexander Zverev in the last 16.  

Sascha is by far the weaker of the top four seeds slam pedigree wise- he is  12-10 in slams and the furthest he has gotten is the 2017 Wimbledon fourth round- so, if Djokovic is playing well, he could exploit Zverev’s poor start to 2018 (the 20 year old going 1-3 in his Hopman Cup matches) and lack of experience in the second week of slams.  

Zverev will be match ready, however, if he does make the last 16 of a slam for only the second time of his career. The 20 year old could have to face Dannii Medvedev (Sydney champion), Thanasi Kokkinakis (who beat him in Perth), Hyeon Chung (perhaps the most consistent of the #NextGenATP at the baseline and recent Next Gen Finals champ) or his own brother, Mischa Zverev, last year’s quarter-finalist, in the round of 32, all of whom are going to put him to the test physically, mentally, and, especially if it is his brother he faces, emotionally.

Scheduled to face Zverev in this third quarter last eight match is fifth seed Dominic Thiem who had a lacklustre end to 2017 and a virus ridden start to this season. The Austrian is drawn to meet 9th seeded Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round who is in the draw despite some rumors he might not be quite fit enough and whose form is as unpredictable as ever.

Auckland champ Roberto Bautista Agut (20), scheduled to meet Wawrinka in round 3, has the experience and the form to take out Wawrinka and then Thiem in the last 16 if either of them are struggling.

Bautista Agut will have to come through a tough first round against fellow country man and upset artist Fernando Verdasco in round one if he wants to give himself the opportunity of reaching a slam quarter-final for the first time in his career after nine last sixteen appearances.

Survivor:

Christian’s pick –  Bautista Agut is match tough, very fit, and has the game and experience to take advantage of this wide open quarter

Karthik’s pick – quite hard to not back Novak Djokovic here, but head over heart: Alexander Zverev to finally announce himself at Grand Slam level

Fourth Quarter:

Defending champion Roger Federer has a comfortable route to the last eight with Richard Gasquet and Sam Querrey his scheduled seeds in the third and fourth rounds, though Milos Raonic could be an awkward fourth round match up if he can find some form and upset Querrey in round 3.

Things get trickier for the Swiss in the quarters, however. Federer has a scheduled quarter final match up with David Goffin (7) who is very comfortable on fast surfaces and has really picked up his game in the last year, even defeating Federer in the semi-final of last season’s ATP World Tour Finals.

If the Belgian is not across the net in the last eight, it could be Federer’s US Open conqueror, Juan Martin del Potro, drawn to face Goffin in the round of 16, who will be feeling confident having reached the Auckland final and returning to the world’s top ten.

The Argentine has a tough draw with Frances Tiafoe in round 1, potentially Karen Khachanov in round two, and Tomas Berdych, (10), who looked very good winning the recent Tie Break Tens event, in round 3.

Survivor: 

Christian’s pick – Roger Federer looked good enough in Perth and has the edge over all his rivals in his quarter on a surface which complements his grand slam winning game so well

Karthik’s pick – That forehand never left. He has that look again. And he is back in the top 10. Fee fie foe fum, Juan Martín del Potro doth come!

1st semi-final: 

Christian: Dimitrov d Cilic

Karthik: Dimitrov d. Nadal

2nd semi-final: 

Christian: Federer d. Bautista Agut

Karthik: del Potro d. Zverev

Final: 

Christian: Federer d. Dimitrov

Karthik: Dimitrov d. Del Potro

What do you think of the Australian Open 2018 draw? Join in the discussion in the comments below and share your thoughts.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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