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
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.