Monday, January 19, 2015

What are Nadal's Updated Chances at the Australian Open?

Heading into the Australian Open it seemed like Rafael Nadal was almost as likely to lose first round to Mikhail Youhzny as he was to make a deep run.  He ended 2014 in a deep slump and was unable to even finish the season.  His start to 2015 hadn't been any better, losing the only match he played.  However, after dispatching Youhzny with ease, Nadal may be around in Australia a lot longer than many people thought. 

Nadal's draw is very manageable, with Tim Smyczek awaiting in Round 2.  While he would likely have to go up against his nemisis Lukas Rosol in round 3, ever since Rosol won Winston-Salem he has barely beaten anybody.  Richard Gasquet or Kevin Andersen would follow, with the big-hitting Andersen presenting the tougher matchup.  However, Andersen's lack of mobility could be tough to overcome in a matchup against Nadal.  Berdych would be the most likely quarterfinal opponent, and the last time Berdych won this matchup Andre Agassi was still on the tour.  It may be as good of a time as any for Berdych to stop the streak, but until he actually does so it's hard to have much confidence he can pull it off.

As good as Federer has been as of late, if it's Federer vs. Nadal in the semis it's still an extremely problematic matchup for the Swiss.  If Nadal is in good enough form to make the semis, he'd have a good chance to prevail with his usual strategy against Federer.  Moreover, Nadal should only get better as the tournament goes along.  He's been lacking match play, and should get more comfortable with each passing win.  It may not have looked this way before the tournament started, but it's not hard to see Nadal once again taking the court on the final Sudnay.

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