As much as I love the early rounds of Grand Slams, the matches that lay ahead of us all look to be of a high quality. Grand Slam events are set up a lot like the NCAA college basketball tournament. Rather than wait for a sweet 16 in March, we have one in January. I was 5-2 with my picks yesterday so I decided to take a crack at the next 8 matches.
Men’s Picks (My projected winners in bold)
1 Novak Djokovic vs. Lleyton Hewitt – I expect Novak to win in 3 sets, but Lleyton could make this close. After 5 surgeries in 4 years, Hewitt deserves a ton of credit for getting back to a Grand Slam round of 16.
17 Richard Gasquet vs. 5 David Ferrer – I am tempted to pick Gasquet as he has weapons and flare. I thought Janko Tipsarevic would beat him, but I think Ferrer is unlikely to no show like Tipsarevic was and on a slower court I think Ferrer wins in a close match.
4 Andy Murray vs. Mikhail Kukushkin – Prior to hiring Ivan Lendl this might have been an upset special. Kukushkin is a solid player who won’t beat himself, but Murray in 3 or 4 is my call.
24 Kei Nishikori vs. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – I’d love to pick Nishikori here as he has a great game, but Tsonga since Queen’s Club 2011 has been close to cracking into the elite ranks of the sport. Tsonga winning Qatar in addition to being runner-up at the Word Tour Finals makes me pick Tsonga in 4.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. 11 Juan Martin del Potro – Delpo is my second favorite player as a fan, but I don’t see Juan Martin del Potro playing quite at the level he needs to. Kohlschreiber has a great deal of variety in his game abd can keep the ball low. That will be enough to win a close match.
Bernard Tomic vs. 3 Roger Federer – I think Tomic actually has a 30-35% chance to win this match. His game is subtle. If he can keep Roger off balance enough and get some good Aussie vibes going, Tomic has a chance. Still, Roger Federer should win in 3 or 4 sets.
7 Tomas Berdych vs. 10 Nicolas Almagro – This is a huge opportunity for both players. Berdych had a breakout year in 2010, and played well everywhere except for the Grand Slams in 2011. He has been solid to this point in the event and might present Nadal a tough quarterfinal opponent.
18 Feliciano Lopez vs. 2 Rafael Nadal – Nadal wins easily. I just can’t see Lopez getting enough quality returns in play to break Nadal. Rafa will beat up his backhand. Lopez will have to serve huge to make this interesting. I just can’t see that happening for more than 1 set.
My Women’s Picks Will Be Coming Up Once the Quarterfinal Round Occurs – I do pick Kim Clijsters to beat Na Li again.