2011 Australian Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 2
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Frederico Gil (POR)
Monfils came back from two sets down for the first time in his career in the opening round to beat Thiemo De Bakker 6-7(5), 2-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. Winning a match like this at a Grand Slam should give him a ton of confidence heading into the second round and I am looking for him to bounce back against Gil (who needed five sets as well to beat Pablo Cuevas 9-7 in the fifth).
These two met at a Challenger back in 2008 and Monfils won that in three sets. Often times, Monfils plays way too much defense and relies on his fitness and athleticism to win matches. I would like to see him take it to his opponent’s more and not rely so much on his opponent to make a mistake. He has also got to play smarter tennis and put his opponent’s away when he has the chance. I believe the first-round was a wake-up call for Monfils and I look for him to get by Gil in three or four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Monfils in 3 or 4 sets
Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Berdych dispensed Italian qualifier Marco Crugnola in three sets and lost six total games. He has never been past the fourth round in Australia and I think if he didn’t get to at least the quarters this year he would be disappointed, especially after reaching the finals of Wimbledon and the semis of the French Open in 2010.
Kohlschreiber comes into the tournament ranked #35 in the world and he has had success here in the past as he knocked off Andy Roddick back in 2008 in the third round and then challenged Nadal here last year. He came back from the brink in the first round, winning in five sets (he dropped the first two sets) over Tobias Kamke.
Berdych is 4-1 against Kohlschreiber, but the last time they faced (2009 Canada), Kohlschreiber won in three sets. Both of these guys can really strike the ball. Kohlschreiber has a big serve and a monster forehand and he isn’t afraid or timid. He is a dangerous opponent and is someone that Berdych needs to take very seriously. I have to give the edge to Berdych, but don’t be surprised to see Kohlschreiber push him to four sets here.
Nick’s Pick – Berdych in 4 sets
Keep an eye on the Federer/Simon match. Simon is 2-0 against Federer, but the two haven’t played since 2008. I am confident Federer will win, but this could be a great match. Simon has all the weapons, but has been injured off and on for the last couple of years. I am interested to see how Federer handles Simon.
John Isner (USA) vs. Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Isner is one of the few American men left in the draw after the opening round and he faces a very tough opponent in Radek Stepanek in the second round. The two have faced one before, back in 2008, and Stepanek won that in straight sets. Isner is a much different player than he was back then and I feel he has the necessary tools to win this match.
Isner cannot get into long rallies with Stepanek. He needs to serve well and win quick, easy points. He also needs to serve and volley a little, which Stepanek will do constantly throughout this match. Stepanek is going to approach the net every chance he gets and he will never relent. I don’t see this match ending in straight sets, but I look for Isner to pull it out in the end.
Nick’s Pick – Isner in 4 or 5 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Ryan Sweeting (USA)
Nadal was up 11-0 when Marcos Daniel retired in the second set. Nadal has come out with a new forehand: “The Helicopter Blade” and it is a difficult shot to hit. This guy just keeps getting better and better and I am not sure if anyone can stop him from winning his fourth straight Grand Slam title.
Sweeting is into the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2006 US Open and he is certainly facing a huge uphill battle against Nadal. Sweeting hits the ball well from both sides, but he is going to have to try and approach the net as much as possible and put pressure on Nadal. I just can’t find any way Nadal will lose this match. He has too much of everything for Sweeting and should advance in straight sets.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 3 sets
On the top half of the draw, keep your eyes on these matches as well…
Del Potro vs. Baghdatis – How will Del Potro feel after playing in the first round? Can Baghdatis get the crowd on his side and use that momentum to win this match? If I had to pick, I would think Del Potro would advance, but with the injury still out there, who knows. This match is going to be fun to watch.
Nalbandian vs. Berankis – Berankis isn’t a big guy, but he packs a huge punch. He serves big, has monster groundstrokes and isn’t afraid of anyone. He played well in the opening round, but gets a tougher opponent in the second. Nalbandian is coming off of a long, emotional five-set win over Hewitt and that will definitely take a toll on his body. I am sure he is praying for a rain delay or heat delay or any kind of delay so he can get some rest. I am picking the upset in this match and I think Berankis will win it!