Australian Open 2017: Did the Men’s Bracket Break?

What just happened ?!?!

Novak Djokovic’s loss was shocking to me.  He has won the Australian Open 6-times including winning 5 of the past 6 events.  So his loss means everyone’s chances have improved? Right?

The Top Half Benefactor(s)

In a real numbers sense, yes, but everyone on Andy Murray’s side of the draw, except for Andy Murray, still has an elephant in their living room.  Andy Murray ended 2016 on an incredible roll and has reached the Australian Open final five times.  He looks to be in a good position to reach a 6th final Down Under.  With Djokovic out, Andy Murray and perhaps Stan Wawrinka are the only two players in the top half of the draw that benefit in a truly tangible manner.  Andy Murray has lost to Novak Djokovic 4-times in the Australian Open final and once in a 5 set Aussie Open semifinal battle.  Wawrinka lost 5-set matches to Novak Djokovic in 2013 and 2015 and beat Djokovic in 5 sets en route to his 2014 Australian Open title.

The Bottom Half – Rafa, Raonic, & a Scramble for the Other Semifinal Spot

This section of the draw is radically changed by Novak’s surprise defeat.  Rafael Nadal has reached 3 Australian Open finals winning one of them and Milos Raonic is pursuing a path toward the top of tennis.  These two players are slated to meet in the quarterfinal round and one is likely for the semifinal round.  Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Gasquet, and David Goffin are all plausible semifinalists.  If one employs a bit of imagination, the other 4 remaining players in Djokovic’s quarter could be seen as semifinalists as well. This means at least one unexpected player will be 6 sets from the Australian Open title.  It also likely means that either Rafael Nadal or Milos Raonic will be 3 easier sets  away from an Australian Open final.

Bottom Line: Andy Murray benefits the most from Novak Djokovic’s early departure, but much like Roger Federer at the 2009 French Open, Murray will have to deal with that weight.

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