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.

THE CONTENDERS

Can Roger Federer get back to the winner's cirlce down under?

Can Roger Federer get back to the winner's cirlce down under?

Roger Federer

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 Nadal

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.

Novak Djokovic

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 Murray

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.

Gael Monfils

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.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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.

Robin Soderling

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.

Andy Roddick

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!

Tomas Berdych

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!

Can Querrey and Isner make some noise in Melbourne?

Can Querrey and Isner make some noise in Melbourne?

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.

Mardy Fish

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.

Stanislas Wawrinka

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.

Ernests Gulbis

What can I say? He is a very dangerous player with all sorts of weapons, but he comes and goes.

Marin Cilic

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.

Richard Gasquet

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 Nishikori

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 Harrison is the new hope for American tennis.

Ryan Harrison is the new hope for American tennis.

Ryan Harrison

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.

Richard Berankis

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.

DARKHORSES

Ivo Karlovic

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.

Kevin Anderson

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.

Xavier Malisse

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.

Andrey Golubev

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.

Viktor Troicki

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.

Alexandr Dolgopolov

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.

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~ by Nick's Picks on January 12, 2011.

10 Responses to “2011 Australian Open – Men’s Breakdown”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenni Chi. Jenni Chi said: RT @NickBollettieri: 2011 Australian Open – Men's Breakdown: http://wp.me/pduQ3-Rf [...]

  2. OK Nick thanks for the (politically-correct) rundown, but tell us something we don’t already know. I hope Ryan Harrison meets your expectations. Soderling spanked him easily Brisbane, but he spanked Roddick too. It seems like many other sports, new contenders in tennis are getting a little taller these days. I route for him, and hope he can reach the top 25. Maybe he will have a late growth spurt. If not, without a more imposing frame, he may have to work as hard as David Ferrer.

  3. [...] reading here: 2011 Australian Open – Men's Breakdown « Grand Slam Professional … Tagged with: all-accounts • all-time • georgia • his-time • [...]

  4. I always route for the US men, but I was impressed by Soderling’s bigger serve against the top US player, Andy Roddick in Brisbane. It looks like he has an improvement surge, (but has a history of being a little inconsistent, right?) I can’t wait for the draw Friday. I am not a Soderling fan, but like his chances. Nadal and Federer are players of the century, but I am tired of the Nadal excuses when he falters: knee, sickness, etc. I just hope more than one representative from USA makes the second week. I’m excited, and have my DirecTV for the interactive tennis channels. I hope Martina Navratilova is a commentator; she says it like it is. Going against my heart, my pick (with odds): Robin Soderling.

  5. I’m on board with Anderson and Troicki having a chance to do well, and am also liking Almagro as an outsider. I guess time will tell, and luck of the draw in terms of who they face along the way!

  6. Watching warm-up tournaments: Isner was just beaten by phenomenal returner David Nalbandian. Your best dark horse, Troiki, who has been playing great, was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Fed in Qatar so I’m not convinced he can be a giant killer. I have not seen Murray or Djokovic recently so they are wild cards like the ailing? Nadal. Without factoring odds, and before the draw,my fantasy picks for quarters:
    Federer, Soderling, Roddick, Davydenko, …which will probably change after the upcoming single’s draw.

  7. I played a little tennis in college in the seventies , definately nothing to brag about. Maybe that’s why I am such a big fan now. I am blown away with the talent I have the pleasure of watching in this decade. Sometimes I crave more of the old school stuff like serve & volley. When teaching grandson, I sometimes quote Nick, “Show them the flashlight”, etc. Speaking of racquet preparation, thats another thing I like about Soderling’s groundstrokes: Is he one of the best at getting the racquet back for the winner? Feds one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty to. Know what I mean? Gotta love that stuff.

  8. hello mister nick.im a big fan of yours and i read all your posts.

    i think all your three youngsters and aussie tomic will advance in second round after ive seen the draw.

    what do you think?

  9. With the draw just out, Nadal may have a bye to the semis if he is in form. Unfortunately, Roddick has tough draw to get through Monfils or Wawrinka just to meet Fed in quarter. I think your darkhorse Troicki has a favorable draw, and could be a threat to countryman, Djokovic in 3rd round. My guess at darkhorses through to second week: Isner and Troicki (if Nadal and Djokovic falter).

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