2011 Australian Open – Men’s Breakdown
Nick breaks down the top men in the 2011 Australian Open field as well as some of the darkhorses and players to watch. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Women’s Breakdowan and stay with Nick’s Picks throughout the tournament for Nick’s insight into the Australian Open as well as daily predictions.
Federer is a special player that has a style that few can match: he can play and hit any shot in the book. He ran into a bit of a dry spell in 2010 and no one can really say why, but I think we will see a totally different Roger this time around.
The addition of Paul Annacone (a former student of mine and close friend) was definitely a great move for Federer’s team. Annacone boasts a successful playing career, extensive experience as a coach (USTA, LTA, and private coach of Pete Sampras), and played college tennis at the University of Tennessee. Annacone has had a great influence already on Federer and he explained that Roger had become a defensive player hitting too many slices, chipping the return of serve, not coming to the net enough, and applying pressure at all times. The end result was that Federer won the year-end ATP World Championships. Federer is far from finished and I feel he can win additional Grand Slam titles.
Rafael is only 24-years old and no matter how far back I go in tennis history I cannot find any player that plays the game like he does. Every single point is a match-point to him and very few players can match what he does on and off the court.
He’s won 9 Grand Slam titles and I’m sure he congratulated Roger on winning the year-end championships, but I am sure this is going to give him more of a reason to get out of the gate quickly this year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win this title.
I can evaluate his entire game and I find it almost impossible to find a flaw with his techniques, movement and style of play. At times, you might think he is out of shape because of the way he gasps for air but knowing Djokovic personally, I know this isn’t true. If I was his coach, I would have him attack a little more, especially against Federer, Nadal and a few others. He is definitely a contender to win any tournament and even a Grand Slam.
Andy is one heck of a player, who has so many of the necessary tools to win a Grand Slam, but it also seems like little things happen here and there that cut down his chances of really contending. I really like Andy and his mother, Judy. He is my kind of player – he excited me because he reminds me of my former student Andre Agassi.
It was recently printed that Andy over-trained during the Holiday Break and did not have his normal energy while playing in the Hopman Cup. Andy has got to tell himself that he is 100% fit mentally and physically and he cannot have any excuses. He is capable of so much and just needs to focus on that. I would like to see him play much more offensively, including attacking at times. He must also play much closer to the baseline.
He is truly an entertainer, but at the same time, he is a fantastic athlete who at any time can hit any shot whether he is standing still, running, jumping, lying on the ground, well, you get the point. He has shown flashes of brilliance against the very best in the world and is a tough out. He has been plagued by injuries and I am sure that has cut down on his chances of winning the big ones! If healthy, watch out, he can take you down.
He is another guy, like Monfils, who has shown the ability to play at a very high level but he has been injured off and on and that has really affected his performance. Back in 2008 he reached the finals of the Aussie Open and he really got the crowd on his side with his flashy play. It’s really a shame that he has had so many injuries because when he is on, he is incredible to watch.
He takes it to you at all times with very aggressive, quite flat, groundstrokes from both sides. It isn’t that easy to take advantage of his serve, and he puts a ton of pressure on your serve, and he will not hesitate to come to the net. I like the way he competes and his movement is excellent. Don’t be surprised to see him playing well into the second week.
He has come so close in many tournaments, but has come up short of winning a Grand Slam title since 2003. Yes, he has a huge serve, big forehand, and an improved backhand, but when you have Federer and Nadal playing alongside you it doesn’t make it easy to win a Grand Slam. He is a fierce competitor, but some are saying his time may be running out. I think he still may have some good runs left in the tank!
He’s another guy who has all the physical ability in the world, but at times loses his mental focus. He was able to correct that in the middle of 2010, reaching the semis of the French and the finals of Wimbledon, but then a first-round exit at the US Open left us all wondering again. Will 2011 be more of the same, or will Berdych put it together consistently?
WATCH OUT FOR THESE GUYS!
Sam Querrey/John Isner
Sam and John are big boys with off the wall serve, darn good groundstrokes, they move well for their height and are capable of playing on all surfaces. They both look to attack and are very comfortable at the net.
Isner was an All-American tennis player at the University of Georgia and by all accounts his time at college was well spent. He was at the center of one of the most historic matches of all time last year at Wimbledon, but I don’t think he wants to be remembered for that.
Both men hold their own well against the top guys, but can they win a Grand Slam? I am not sure.
Every time you feel his time is up, Mardy will come up with a big win. His two-handed backhand is one of the very best and he is extremely aggressive. His forehand has improved, he has a big serve and is a very sound volleyer. The US needs him to come through with a big tournament.
Wawrinka stated that he is ready to get down to business in 2011, and we will have to see how that pans out. He and his wife have recently separated and he has added Peter Lundgren as his coach. These are some big changes, and they will have a significant impact on the way he plays. No one has ever doubted his physical talents, but sometimes his mind goes in all directions.
What can I say? He is a very dangerous player with all sorts of weapons, but he comes and goes.
Never, never count him out. He can play against any player, but seems to get to a high point and then flame out. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him in 2011.
The years are rolling on and we can no longer call him “someone to watch out for in the future.” It’s time for Gasquet to step up to the plate and demonstrate his talents consistently.
YOUNG AND DANGEROUS
Kei has been a student at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy since he was 13-years old. He is a shot-maker with brilliant speed and a flair for the dramatic. He was on a roll and all of Japan was behind him as he became not only one of the best Japanese males to play, but he was also starting to beat some of the top men in the world. His run to the top came to a sudden halt when he injured his elbow and was basically out for a year.
He is now back and looking good and has a new look and team which includes the ugliest technical tennis player I have ever known: Brad Gilbert (he sure knew how to win though!). Glenn Weiner (his former traveling coach of two years) did one heck of a job, but there comes a time when change is a must. In addition to Brad, Bollettieri Academy coach Dante Bottini will be on the road with Kei.
Kei is already off to a great start in 2011 with wins over world #14 Marin Cilic and Alejandro Falla in Chennai. If he stays healthy, I feel very optimistic he will have a banner year.
Ryan and the entire Harrison family live and train at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy. At the age of 18, Ryan’s performance at the 2010 US Open vaulted him into another level of play and stardom. His style of play includes a huge Bollettieri forehand, steady two-handed backhand, very aggressive 1st and 2nd serve, attacking game style, excellent movement and physically prepared to battle the higher ranked players.
It’s very important for Ryan to control his emotions and listen to his new coach, Martin Damm, because that could make a huge difference in the rest of his career. I am looking for big things from Ryan in 2011 and beyond and I really enjoy working with him and his father, Pat, here at the Academy.
Berankis is another student of the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy and he and his coach, Remigijus Balzekas (a top Lithuanian coach) are a perfect team. Berankis isn’t tall, but he packs a wallop with his outstanding groundstrokes and serve. He moves extremely well and players very aggressively. Another strong point of his game is his ability to compete for every single point – he fights like a lion! He is currently the youngest player in the top 100 and has shown the ability to compete with the top pros. I look for big things from him this year.
Karlovic is coming back from an Achilles tendon injury that kept him out of action for much of 2010. He spent his Holiday Break training at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy with his team and he looks to be in good shape. No one has a more dangerous serve than Karlovic and he is also a fantastic volleyer. I worked with him on his backhand during his stay and suggested that he might not want to hit every backhand with a slice. When on a roll his aggressive forehand can beat the best in the world.
P.S. He has a great support team and is a great person.
Anderson spent some time at the Academy during the Holiday Break and he is really a great guy. Standing at 6’8”, he can serve big bombs and then capitalize on any defensive return with a very aggressive forehand and backhand. He must come in towards the net more often though to beat the best.
He has been a favorite student of mine since he came to the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy when he was 16 years of age. No one ever has questioned his techniques, movement and talent, but he has lacked focus at times and has also battled injuries. Just recently, Xavier told me he is really enjoying playing tennis again which is great to hear.
He is a hard-hitter with a killer forehand and a one-handed backhand that can penetrate at any time. The serve is good, but his percentages go down when the pressure is on.
This man is dangerous, and I mean dangerous! His serve and two-handed backhand are a lethal weapon. He can be a little off the wall at times, and sometimes his forehand can break down.
This man is still very young, but he has very smooth strokes with a two-handed backhand. He is fast, fast, fast, but still might need a year of playing before winning a big match.