6 Quick Hits
- Petra Kvitova lost a set and Chris Evert stated that she is not yet fully fit and will likely not win this Australian Open. This is something to follow.
- Novak Djokovic looks solid, and a showdown with Milos Raonic seems like a great round of 16 match.
- Kei Nishikori could surprise people in Melbourne despite needing 5 sets to reach the 3rd round.
- David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic are going to be hard outs in the draw.
- Nicolas Mahut has little chance vs. Djokovic, but his 3rd round entrance helps him not solely be remembered as an answer to a trivia question.
- Maria Sharapova is destroying people, but I am still skeptical about her second serve.
Ivan Lendl – Game Changer
Ivan Lendl’s tenure as Andy Murray’s coach is either going to be really successful or really short. Lendl is not going to put up with Murray’s traditional barbs toward his coach/family during matches. Lendl is still an intimidating figure. Some critics of Roger Federer complain about Federer giving off an imperious vibe. Lendl has that vibe too, but it is far less genial than Federer’s. I like seeing Lendl back, and I think projecting an imperious persona is not bad for Federer or Lendl. Lendl however seems menacing in a way that
will should help Murray. If Murray is smart enough, he can learn by osmosis. Lendl struggled to break through at the Grand Slams, but once he did at the French Open in 1984, 1985-1987 were displays of dominance. Aside from imitating Lendl’s demeanor, Lendl’s toughness may also make Murray fear him more than the expectations of Great Britain or than Nadal’s resolve. That too can only help Murray.
Roddick 7 – Hewitt 7
After 14 matches, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt are knotted up at 7-7. This match was a lot like their French Open match in 2001 in which Roddick also had to retire due to an injury. It would have been great to see another contentious 5 set grudge match a la Wimbledon 2009, but unfortunately injury struck. I feel for Roddick who put in a lot of road work during the late portions of 2011. Lleyton Hewitt, who has undergone 5 surgeries in 4 years, has to feel good about being in the round of 32 at a Grand Slam again. I doubt that we get to see too many more clashes between these two, but this would be an unsatisfying ending to their rivalry so I hope for at least one more match in a big event.
Roddick has a lot to look forward to in 2012 with the Olympics being on grass. Still, this injury and loss have to be crushing. Where do things head from here? If I were Roddick, I might skip the clay court season and just focus on being optimally prepared for Wimbledon, the Olympic games and the US Open. I am not sure where his career will go after 2012. I doubt he will retire at the end of the year, but injuries and a declining ranking put him in a tight spot.
For Hewitt, he got a lot of love from the Australian crowd. Last year, he lost in 5 sets to another contentious rival in David Nalbandian (Rusty has more than a few rivals on tour I guess). After the loss to Nalbandian, Darren Cahill speculated that 2011 was likely Hewitt’s final Australian Open. Here he is in 2012 with a giant challenge in front of him in Milos Raonic. I think Raonic is likely to win the match, but the young Canadian had best be careful not to let Hewitt push the match to a place where the crowd and experience become factors. Lleyton Hewitt could beat Raonic. If he does, his reward is likely to be world #1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic. Win or lose, I have to admire Hewitt’s desire to fight and compete. He’s got at least one or two main event fights on his hands, and that is just how Lleyton wants it.