2012 Australian Open – Round 4 Picks and Thoughts
Some great matches in the fourth round and here are a few that caught my eye…
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS) - It is impossible to find the words that describe how good Roger Federer has been throughout his illustrious career. To me, the question is: What can’t he do?? His versatility is astounding and it drives his opponents crazy because they are thinking more about him than their own game. Federer is able to read the ball and know exactly where it will bounce and whether it is hit flat or with spin and the height/direction. His finishing shots are some of the best ever, his initial reaction is something you cannot teach, and he is a master with placing his serve using the same exact toss.
On the other side, you have Tomic. There is no doubt that he will be around for a long time. He will have to get used to making the quarters, semis and finals of many more tournaments. He is a big, strong boy and gives the audience an impression he is sleeping standing up, but in reality it is his opponents that are having the nightmare! His game enables him to hit offensive serves, big forehands, and a wicked two-handed backhand. Against Federer, Tomic may have to come out of his comfort zone at times and attack more to win this match. I look for Federer to win, but this should be really fun to watch. Federer in 4 sets.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Feliciano Lopez (ESP) – Generally, when Lopez takes the court he has the advantage of being a lefty – not in this case. It makes it much easier for Nadal to return that booming serve, especially to the ad court. Keep in mind, that Nadal is really a right and because of this, his backhand is superb with the top-hand doing all the work. Lopez must understand that beating Nadal from the baseline and with his serve will not work. He must do a little of this and a little of that including coming in to the net. No matter what way I break this one down, Nadal comes out on top. Nadal in 3, maybe 4 sets.
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. Caroline Wozniack (DEN) – It’s true, I picked McHale to upset Jankovic in the last round and I was proved wrong! Maybe my comments motivated her! Jankovic played great tennis in that match and if she continues to play like that, it will not be long before she is back in the top 10 and maybe even the top 5. She is an excellent athlete and her movement has helped her win so many matches. She has very consistent groundstrokes with very little spin, and her two-handed backhand is one of the best. Her second serve is attackable, but then again, so is Wozniacki’s.
Both girls are in great shape, but Caroline comes out a little ahead by being more hard-nosed and confident. This match will include several long rallies and the stat-box favors Wozniacki. I don’t think Jankovic can beat Woznaicki solely from the baseline. If I were her coach, which I used to be, I will tell Jelena to press Caroline, including attacking the net. Jankovic must also be more explosive and take the ball earlier. She has to hit angled shots and even mix in a few drop shots at times. Wozniacki should do what she does, play consistent tennis but when inside the baseline she should go for it! The rankings certainly favor Wozniacki, but I feel Jankovic is on the right path after that last win. The longer this match goes, the more it favors Wozniacki. I am really torn here, but I have to give a slight edge to Wozniacki. Wozniacki in 3 sets, but this could be a close one.
Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. Li Na (CHN) – This should be a really good match if both women are playing their best tennis. It’s great to have Clijsters playing again, she brings a great energy to the Tour. She can play from any position on the court, she hits with power, she has a darn good serve, she’s very comfy at the net and she always puts pressure on her opponents. Her one question is lack of match play, but with her experience I don’t think that will be a big issue. Li Na’s game is simple. She will stand right on the baseline taking the ball early. She has a super foundation with very compact strokes, solid serve, comfortable at the net and her movement is above average. I don’t know what goes on inside her head, but at times she tends to look at her box too much which affects her performance. Like the Wozniacki/Jankovic match, this one could go either way. With Kim’s history in Australia though, I have to give her a slight advantage. Clijsters in 3 sets.