2011 Australian Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 3
Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Berdych needed four sets to beat a tough opponent in Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. After a great summer in 2010, Berdych ended the year on a sour note. This will be a test to see which Berdych is out on the court – the one from the middle of 2010 or the one from the end.
Gasquet is 2-1 against Berdych, but in their one meeting last year Berdych won easily. Both men were picked to be top players when they were young, and both have spent time in the top ten. Neither has won a Grand Slam, and neither has been extremely consistent over their careers. The key in this match will be Berdych’s groundstrokes. Can he keep Gasquet off-balance and break down the Frenchman’s backhand? Berdych definitely has the overall advantage in this match, but Gasquet has the talent to win. I look for a close match with Berdych advancing in four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Berdych in 4 sets
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Robin Haase (NED)
Roddick hasn’t dropped a set in his two matches, but he seems to be lacking a little power on his groundstrokes. They don’t seem to be penetrating like they have done in the past, and that is going to be a problem moving forward. It isn’t that he is playing with too much spin, but he isn’t generating enough to keep his opponents pinned behind the baseline.
Haase is a 23-year old Dutchmen who is ranked #62 in the world and is playing in only his third Australian Open. He was a top junior (ranked #3 in the world) and did reach the finals of Junior Wimbledon back in 2005. This is the first time he has been in the third round of any Grand Slam and it’s also his first match against Andy Roddick.
Haase hits with a ton of power from both sides and has beaten some top men in the past. This will not be an easy win for Roddick. Look for the American to use his serve to keep Haase back and Roddick has to win easy points. He cannot get into long rallies with Haase. The edge in experience goes to Roddick and this should help him in this match. I look for Roddick to win, but this will be tough.
Nick’s Pick – Roddick in 4 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Nadal has lost a total of four games in two matches and he is playing absolutely unbelievable tennis. He gets to just about every ball and hits some shots that I used to think were impossible! The guy is amazing to watch and he is getting closer and closer to winning the “Rafa-Slam.”
Tomic pulled off a big upset with a straight set win over the hard-serving Feliciano Lopez. This will be a whole other level against Nadal. Tomic has a great two-handed backhand, his movement is deceptively good, and he doesn’t lack confidence. You will know how this match is going to go right from the outset. If Tomic is 8-10 feet behind the baseline and trying to rally with Nadal, he has no chance. Nadal will hit angled shots, drop shots and move him side-to-side. If Tomic can hang on the baseline and take the ball a little earlier and hit it flat, he could play with Nadal for a couple of sets. This will be a fun match to watch, but you have to think Nadal is going to win in straight sets.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 3 sets
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
Murray has kept a rather low profile for his standards through the first two rounds and he hasn’t really been tested. He looks confident and seems at ease with everything which is a great sign. He is also playing a little more offensive which I feel is the way to go because his defense is already so good.
Murray is 1-0 against Garcia-Lopez, with that win coming on grass at Queen’s Club back in 2009. Garcia-Lopez is a solid righty who has been as high as #29 in the world. I don’t think he has the game to compete with Murray on the hard courts, and with Murray’s ability to turn defense into offense and to return so well, I see him moving through in three sets.
Nick’s Pick – Murray in 3 sets
A couple of other matches to keep your eyes on…
Kei Nishikori vs. Fernando Verdasco – Verdasco is coming off of a come-from-two-sets-down-five-set win over Janko Tipsarevic and Nishikori beat Florian Mayer in four sets. How will that long match affect Verdasco? Can Nishikori move Verdasco around and keep him off-balance? Verdasco is in great physical shape and that should help, but this match could go either way.
Xavier Malisse vs. Roger Federer – It’s weird to see Federer win the first two sets and then get pushed to five sets, but that is exactly what happened against Gilles Simon. Federer hung tough though and won it in five. Meanwhile, Malisse breezed through Albert Montanes, losing only 5 games in three sets. This is a tricky match for Federer, and I am so happy to see “X” playing well again. He is great for the sport!
John Isner vs. Marin Cilic – A battle of two giants. Longer points and longer rallies will not be the way that Isner wins this match. He needs to win quick, easy points and move forward when he has the chance. Cilic has been a little up and down so if Isner gets a chance he needs to jump on it immediately. You have to give a little edge to Cilic, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Isner win.
Richard Berankis vs. David Ferrer – Berankis was cruising by Nalbandian when the veteran retired in the third set. This is going to be a different match because of how well Ferrer moves. Berankis will stand on the baseline and for a smaller guy he packs a huge punch on his groundstrokes and serve. Ferrer probably gets the edge because of his experience, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see my man Richard win!