A lot has happened since my latest post, so let me get right to it. Not only did Nicolay Davydenko easily take care of Roger 6-4, 6-4 in the semi’s of Doha, but he also went on to stage a spectacular comeback against Rafa in the final, winning 0-6, 7-6(8), 6-4, saving 2 match points in the process. And this after Davydenko won the Masters Cup at the end of last year. He has now won 6 tournaments since Wimbledon last year, which is the most on tour. Davydenko seems to be the man to beat at the moment. Can he translate that into a first grand slam title Down Under? I wouldn’t bet against it, but at the same time there are probably more legitimate contenders at the Australian Open than there has been for a long time. Especially with Roger struggling the way he is.
I caught the second set of his match against Davydenko, and I can’t say that I was very impressed at all. Davydenko made 100% first serves in the first set, which in itself is an astonishing stat. The second set that I saw, Roger looked as out of form as I’ve ever seen him. His backhand was bad to the point of embarrassment. Just a pathetic display really. Having said that, it’s not the first time this has happened. You simply can’t draw too many conclusions from this match, except for the fact that Roger played really bad. If this was anyone else you would probably write them off for the Australian Open, but with Roger you can’t do that. Roger has now officially withdrawn from Kooyong, which personally I think is a good thing.
This is the worst form I have seen Roger in coming into the Australian Open, so if ever he should change something it is now. He will now go to Melbourne where he will practice on the Australain Open courts for a whole week. Why go to Kooyong if he will probably just lose to another lesser player? That would make things only worse for him. He has had enough matches now to be ready for the Australian. His confidence level may not be where it should be, but his aura of invincibility in the slams should help him. A decent draw will not hurt either. I would prefer that he draws either Roddick or Soderling in the quarter finals, and Murray wouldn’t be too bad either. He does however want to avoid playing Davydenko in the quarters after losing the last two meetings against him, and the last one being a crushing one.
At least he has great head-to-head records against both Soderling and Roddick, and against Murray he won the last two meetings. Personally I am probably feeling the least optimistic for Roger’s chances going into a slam that I ever felt. I just think the match against Davydenko was really bad. I don’t see him as a favorite anymore, but just one of the contenders. I really hope he can prove me wrong and play really well, but I’m not counting on it. Like I said, the draw could play a role, and maybe if he gets a good win in the quarter finals it could boost his confidence. In the semi’s he preferably wants to avoid Del Potro as well, who has won the last two meetings against him. I really had great hopes for Roger to win the Australian Open again, but now I’m not so sure. I really do hope I’m wrong.
Rafa on the other hand suffered a pretty crushing loss himself against Davydenko. I told you we will find out just how confident Rafa is when he faces faces a top opponent, and apparently he is not as confident as he wants everyone to believe. He has never lost after being in such a great position before. He is not the type of player that lets opponents off the hook. Thus it is clear to me that he still isn’t as confident as he likes to make us believe. He really looked great in that first set. He played better then I have seen him play in a long time. But lets be honest, if you suffer as many big losses as he did last year, how can you just suddenly get back to from as if nothing happened? If Rafa had beaten Davydenko, I would have been willing to admit that he is completely back, but he didn’t. At least he is playing better though.
He must be considered a contender at the Australian Open as well. Roddick won the tournament in Brisbane, and is yet another contender. Also Cilic won in Chennai, and although I wouldn’t necessarily call him a contender, he can certainly do some damage. It is just very open this year. All of the top eight must be in with a chance. Of the top eight I will narrow the contenders down to Roger, Rafa, Davydenko and Del Potro. I think it could be any one of those guys. Before Doha, Roger was still my favorite to win, but now he is just one of the top four contenders. It’s not even out of the question that his semi-final streak in grand slams could be broken here. Well, at least Hitler doesn’t agree with me:
:lol: Also, Roger is still the favorite to win Down Under according to the bookmakers, which is nice to see:
I wouldn’t read much into that though. Last year Murray was the favorite according to the bookies, but he lost in the fourth round. This year he is second favorite, yet I don’t see any reason why he should be. He just lost to Tommy Robredo of all people in the Hopman Cup, and have disappointed very much in the slams. Also Davydenko is only sixth favorite, but I think he has a much better chance than that. As you can see, this is a very open grand slam. I just hope Roger’s preparation in Melbourne and experience in the slams can make the difference for him. If he should win the first major of the year it would really be huge for him. The pressure would be off him and he could start thinking of winning the grand slam again. But for now I’m just hoping he makes the semi-finals…