2011 Australian Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Fourth Round
Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
I was very impressed with how Berdych was able to beat Gasquet in three sets. He looks like a legitimate contender out there and I don’t think I could have set that about him six months ago. His groundstrokes are flawless and he is playing with a ton of confidence. I really like his game right now and he is very dangerous.
After having to come back from two sets down in the second round, Verdasco was able to beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets. This should help Verdasco gain some of his energy and strength back. He trains with Gil Reyes in the off-season and when you train with Gil, you are ready to go to battle at anytime!
Berdych is 6-4 against Verdasco and was 2-1 against in him 2010. To me, this match comes down to Berdych’s mental toughness. Is he can stay mentally focused then he should win this match because his groundstrokes are more penetrating on both sides than Verdasco’s. The Spaniard hits with more spin and doesn’t quite get the same effect on his groundies that Berdych gets. Both have great serves and both move well. If Berdych can hang tough mentally, I see him advancing in four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Berdych in 4 sets
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)
Djokovic only needed to play a set in third round before his good friend, Viktor Troicki, had to retire due to an injury. Djokovic is flying under the radar a bit, and this is good for him. He is taking care of his business and that is all you can ask from the #3 player in the world. He won this title back in 2008, so don’t count him out just yet!
Almagro is one of three Spaniards still alive just on the bottom half of the men’s draw! He is into the fourth round for the second straight year and is looking for his third trip into the quarters of a Grand Slam. He has fantastic groundstrokes and a great serve, but he doesn’t have the movement and quickness of Djokovic. He also will not be able to pick on any weaknesses and this will hurt him. I can see this match going four sets, but a well-rested Djokovic should win this match.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 4 sets
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Aside from one great “tweener” from Garcia-Lopez, Murray wasn’t really tested in the third round. He gave a great interview after the match with my former student, Jim Courier, and he looks really happy and comfortable on the court. I don’t think there will be a better time than now for Murray to win this first Grand Slam title. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised with the way that he is playing to see him back in the finals.
After dropping the first set to Baghdatis, Melzer came right back and was all over him and eventually Baghdatis retired in the fourth set. Melzer is a very dangerous player who can move like the wind. He overs the court exceptionally well and has big groundies from both sides.
Murray is playing more offensive, he is returning serve unbelievably, and he is full of confidence. He is whacking the ball from the center of the court and when you combine all of those things with his defense, it is going to take one heck of an effort to stop him from winning. I definitely feel Melzer can push this to four sets, but I don’t see Murray losing.
Nick’s Pick – Murray in 4 sets
Robin Soderling (SWE) vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
Nobody is talking about Soderling as a possible contender and the man is seeded fourth! He is definitely flying under the radar and it’s time we took notice. He has yet to drop a set and in his three matches he has really only been pushed for one set (against Gilles Muller). He hits the ball hard and flat, has a tremendous serve and keeps the pressure on his opponents at all times. He plays incredibly offensive and that is why he is so much fun to watch.
Dolgopolov is into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career after beting Jo-Willy Tsonga in five sets. Tsonga definitely ran out of gas after the third set and Dolgopolov jumped all over him, winning the last two sets 6-1, 6-1. He is an excellent mover and his groundstrokes are very solid, but that will not be enough against Soderling. I expect the Swede to come out firing and he won’t stop until this match is over in straight sets!
Nick’s Pick – Soderling in 3 sets
A couple of other matches to keep your eyes on…
Andy Roddick vs. Stan Wawrinka – This is going to be on heck of a match! Wawrinka is playing incredible tennis and Roddick looked much better in the last three sets against Haase. Roddick is going to have to use that biting slice against Wawrinka’s one-handed backhand and he is going to have to serve extremely well. I am thinking this match is going to go at least four sets and could go 5!