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Oz: Counting Down 01/15/2009 - 3:18 PM

JankovicHappy New Year and welcome back to String Theory, which has enjoyed a deep, deep sleep since Wimbledon. It's cold here in New York City, but the clouds are thinning as I pack up my bags for Melbourne, where sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures are predicted all week (a forecast that makes the 27 plus hours of cabs, planes, and layovers well worth it). Can't wait to get on the road and in the air.

But before I do, I figured I would put up one post so all of you can congregate--and ask questions/make predictions--while I fly. The 2009 season is only a few weeks old, but we've already had a lot of big news. No Maria Sharapova in Melbourne (goodbye, defending champion, and get well soon). No Nikolay Davydenko to pepper with questions about gambling and cell phone numbers. As of today, it seems we might not have Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, either (his back is acting up again). The No. 1 woman, Jelena Jankovic, feels under the weather and a bit too bulky after an off-season training program (but as you can see, she's still smiling). All that, and we don't even have the draws yet. They ought to surface while I'm over Chicago or thereabouts. Check Tennis.com's home page for the latest, and for a men's preview from my colleague Mr. Tignor.

No better way to get people thinking about this tournament, and possible themes for the year, than a little quiz. Here are a few of the questions on my mind as this tournament begins. What are your answers? Better yet, what are your questions? Answer and ask away and I'll follow up in later posts, either with reporting from the site or, if there's no information available to address your question, rampant speculation (this is a blog, after all). I'll give you my answers (and there are no right answers, at least not until the tournament is over) before the first match is played. Enjoy.

1. This player will win his/her first major title in Melbourne:
A) Andy Murray
B) Jelena Jankovic
C) Elena Dementieva
D) Dinara Safina
E) None of the above

Answer: E

2. Rafael Nadal will win this many hard court major titles in his career:
A) 0
B) 1
C) 2
D) 3 or more

Answer: C

3. Roger Federer will finish the Australian Open ranked:
A) 2
B) 3

Answer: A

4. Which of the following women has a better chance of winning the Australian Open than Venus Williams:
A) Serena Williams
B) Jelena Jankovic
C) Ana Ivanovic
D) Caroline Wozniacki
E) None of the above
F) All of the above

Answer: E

5. Last year in Melbourne, Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis played until the sun came up. This year they will:
A) Both be out of the tournament by the end of the first round
B) Meet again, but play a clunker of a match
C) That match happened last year? Really?

Answer: C

6. Novak Djokovic won't defend his Australian Open title because:
A) He's uncomfortable with his new racquet
B) He's distracted by off-court endeavors, like the tournament his family has moved to Serbia
C) Murray has passed him by
D) He will defend

Answer: B

7. James Blake, who tired down the stretch in 2008 and finished the year ranked No. 10, will:
A) Play surprisingly well in Australia and begin a year-long comeback
B) Have a terrible tournament and fall further in the rankings
C) Win his first major title

Answer: B

I'm off. See you in a few days.


71 Comments

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Posted by etheralx23crisis 01/15/2009 at 04:48 PM

B JJ wins in melbourne

C 2 hard court majors for rafa

B Roger will be ranked #3

B JJ is my fave =]

B i want another 5 am bananza :D

D Novak has some pride to defend here in Australia He will do it =D

A i can only hope Blake comes back, he is a fan favorite for me, but not by any chance a winner in australia, he is just too inconsistent. :/

Posted by MIG55C 01/15/2009 at 05:09 PM

My answers

1 B (my second answer would be A as he is on a bit of a roll lately)
2 C (I have this feeling he'll win at least two, since he won Wimbledon)
3 A (he should at least make the semis which will mean he will keep his points, the defending champ has to get to the finals)
4 B (naturally it would be B if the answer to 1 was B but potentially A also)
5 A (both, especially the Aussie, are starting to go down very quickly)
6 C (all very possible answers but the Brit is starting to show more flash lately)
7 B (never a player you should bet on to win a major, especially if its not the US Open)

Posted by Ian 01/15/2009 at 05:11 PM

1) a. Murray is a great counter puncher and does well on hard courts. he has proved that he can beat the top three---any day of the week. I think the Australian Open is always a breakthrough tournament for the men. He has already broken through but I think Australia will make him qualified to contest for the other two quicker grandslams as well. Murray def. Nadal in final.

2) d. he is only 22.

3) a. but he will slip soon.

4) e. No one can beat Venus right now. She is at the top of her game and is physically fit and her forehand is just as strong as her backhand now. She looked great in Hong Kong last week beating Jelena and Vera. She ended 2008 with tons of confidence beating the # 1,2,3,4,and 7 in the tounrnaments she won in Zurich and Doha. She has more condidence than anyone and no one can stop her right now. I expect her to win 3 grandslams in 2009 and be #1 like she should be and is well deserving of it.

5) most likely a of all the options. but I think Leyton could get to the round of 16. time to retire after this year. it is unfortunate he could not win in 2005 in front of his home crowd. Marcos? what a one-hit wonder he turned out to be.

6) c. Murray is better on hard courts, though he did end the year well in 2008. We will see...I think he wants to prove a lot again this year.

7) b. too much evidence to not prove otherwise. Not consistant and won no titles in 2008.

Posted by luke the duke 01/15/2009 at 05:17 PM

1. C elena just beat the last woman to win a major.
2. B i'm feeling very generous giving him one. his game has never been no ever will be suited to hard court.
3. A he is not going to lose his ranking to djok the joke.
4. E none of the above. if not venus, the dementieva.
5. D i'm not going to answer with one of those choices.none of the above.
6. C i'm not sorry either that murray will kick his butt.
7. again, like five, i defer to use the choices given. he may go pretty far, but it will not be a year-long comeback.

Posted by holiday 01/15/2009 at 05:26 PM

I love him, but James Blake has no viable chance. His mental game won't match his physical abilities.

Posted by Angélica 01/15/2009 at 05:47 PM

1) B

2) B

3) B

4) B

5) A

6) D

7) I don't know... I think he hasn't any chance to win the Aussie Open

Posted by rafanadal101 01/15/2009 at 06:26 PM

1) B

2) D

3) B

4) A

5) C

6) A

7) A

Posted by Tennis fan 01/15/2009 at 06:32 PM

1. A) Andy Murray - He is ready
2. C) 2 - He will improve
3. 2 - Nole is too distracted to overtake RF.
4. A) Serena Williams
5. C) That match happened last year? Really?
6. C) Murray has passed him by - C'mon Nole fans, it is only tennis... take it easy.
7. B) Have a terrible tournament and fall further in the rankings - Blake is too inconsistent


Posted by Mare 01/15/2009 at 06:36 PM

Six months from now my prediction was that federer will not only definetly lose his number one spot, but also number two, number three... AND EVERYBODY WAS LAUGHING like what the heck are you talking about, FEDERER is THE KING, my ass he is.
If Djokovic beats Nieminen in a semifinal clash (5 hours from now) DJOKOVIC WILL BE NUMBER TWO and FEDERER WILL BE NUMBER THREE!!!

And a reply to someone who sad that he won't lose his place to djok the joke or whatever. All he has to do is to beat Nieminen which is not impossible. it is VERY possible just wait and see. And for those who are jealous and have something against djokovic.... YOU CAN ALL KISS MY ASS

Posted by RTG 01/15/2009 at 07:17 PM

Yes Novak will be No2 next Monday if he advances to Sydney final, but he has all 2000 (or 1000 in the old system in which I am used to think) points to defend for AO. So as the question is whether Federer will be No2 AFTER AO, I would say that the chance of his (Novak's) defending the title is probably even lower than the chance of his losing to Nieminen at Sydney - and pretty much that's all he needs to do to stay at No3 AFTER AO.

Posted by frances 01/15/2009 at 07:19 PM

The Williams sisters, big champions that they are, are awfully unpredictable except in one area: Grand Slams. They just always seem to win them (barring a bad injury -- heck, Venus almost won Wimby a few years ago with shredded stomach muscles). I'm terrified of betting against them. I have no idea what kind of mind or body shape they are in, but heck if I don't believe Venus or Serena is going to win OZ. I just can't see who is going to beat Venus' power or Serena's court wizzardry. Ivanovic? Jankovic? I just don't think so...

Posted by RTG 01/15/2009 at 07:26 PM

We can do some more math here, cr*zy Nole fans - if Murray wins AO, he will have 9180 points, and if - let's say if - Novak loses in QF (to Andy Roddick let's say) he will only have 8950 points. So I suggest you better worry about Novak being No4 rather than comtemplating his being No2.

Posted by london 01/15/2009 at 08:12 PM

as long as they dont end up in the same quarter, i see venus and serena making at least the semis. one of which will prob make the finals. i want venus!

Posted by RTG 01/15/2009 at 08:25 PM

Ragarding my 7:26 post: sorry I forgot to add the 220 potential points (250-30) Novak can get should he win at Sydney. That will make it Murray 9180, Djokovic 9170 after Australian Open. Interesting how 10 or 20 points matter now at an age where smaller tournaments are seen as much less important by ATP.

Posted by Melissa 01/15/2009 at 08:32 PM

Murray has no points to defend indeed since he lost in the 1st round to Tsonga last year. Unless injured, he will likely win since he has defeated the Top 3 players in all his last matches against them (Nadal at the US Open, Federer the last 3, and Djokovic the last 2, all on hardcourts)

Yank-a-vic just got dismantled by Venus only a week ago and as usual the drama queen pulled out of the tournament pretending to be sick . She'll only win it if the other Top 5 are out before the final, otherwise you can forget about it (she was 1-5 against the Top 5 last year...#1 my a%# !) Both Serena and Ivanovic have better chances to win after Venus.

Federer will finish as #2 by making it at least to the SF to defend his points. Djokovic #3 as he wont defend his by playing a sick Federer in the SF and/or an unseeded 1st time finalist like Tsonga last year (ie: out in the SF last US Open)

James Blake will be out by the 3rd round like in the last US Open as he no longer belongs to the Top 10...Good luck to Baghdatis and Hewitt on the road back after a 2008 plagued by injuries.

Posted by Nichole 01/15/2009 at 09:28 PM

1)E) None of the above. I predict Serena and Nadal
2)C) 2
3)A) 2
4)B) Jelena Jankovic or nobody
5)A) Both be out of the tournament by the end of the first round
6)B) He's distracted by off-court endeavors, like the tournament his family has moved to Serbia; Or he doesn't have the mojo right now.
7)B) Have a terrible tournament and fall further in the rankings; I love James. But he is getting older, and there are a flurry of younger guys right behind him. Hopefully, he doesn't have a terrible tournament, but it won't be his best.

Posted by Josh 01/15/2009 at 09:50 PM

1)E. although this seems pretty average an answer, i think that if any A. Andy Murry has the best chance, simply because hes in better shape than he has before, adn although others such as Elena D might be better too, she just doesnt have the chops to take out a Williams sister in a Grand Slam arena and on a possible grand stage event, murray will have to give it his all.

2)C. if not a D, hes pretty good, adn noones to say that federer will go as long as rafa adn perhaps the same as murray, adn without them, there are no other brighter stars on the horizon to give him a true run for the 2 hard court titles.

3)A. good willing, he will keep a number two sopt, there has been major talk from both him and his publicist and i think that if he puts atleast 90% of what he has he can make it to a final.

4)A. Definatley, Venus is my favorite going in, but since when did we start measuring by her? She's never one in the Oz, but at any rate, i think shes looking explosive, shes doing the best in her preparation matches, shes undeafeated this year, adn won the last match this year. Although if anyone can taker hier, its little sister Serena, but i dont know, i think this could be venus' year, she couldve tooken the US, the asutralian is looking just like a SF, or QF, if not an all williams final depeding on the draw, Ivanavic is pretty good, but doesnt have what it takes to down a williams in a grand slam and i'm going an all williams allt he way.

5)B. simply because theres no better chicoe sadly, theres no saying that they have to meet, but they wont be out early adn really i dont see a win, but i ahev the utmost respect for marcos baghdatis, and Lleyton.

6)C. sadly murray seems unsurmountable to most at this point, adn on the grand stages hes getting better and better, i think Djok wont defend but at the same time, no permanate spot for murary just yet.

7)A. i think if anything he'll do pretty good, adn when not in the grand slams do ven better, hes pretty good, adn i think throught the season he can get better, defanetley.

So i say a definate run in Oz for Venus, adn possibly a new slam under her belt, adn maybe, if we're lucky the stars will come out and federer can make his long hoped for comeback. In the ATP draw, it looks very intresting, cant wait, and thanks for the opportunity to post!

Posted by 01/15/2009 at 09:52 PM


Jelena, No-Slam Wonder

Venus --- the True World Number One!

Posted by miguel and tulio 01/15/2009 at 10:15 PM

1. E. Murray has a chance, but I dunno if he can win a five set GS match against Novak or Federer.
2. D. Nadal can still improve. He will win more than three hard court titles. No doubt about it.
3. A. Novak has too many points to defend to overtake Roger and become #2.
4. E. Venus makes her own chances. If she gives 100% and plays her best she'll win (though she might not).
5. Too tough to call. Depends completely on the luck of the draw. I'm crossing my fingers for another 5 setter from both of them.
6. D. Novak will win AO. Unless he plays Safin ;)
7. There should be a D - Blake will do OK. Not terrible, not great. Just OK. Maybe 4th round or QF.

AO winners 2009: Richard Gasquet and Vera Zvonareva.
Just Kidding :)

Posted by kelsey 01/15/2009 at 10:35 PM

the question shouldnt be if roger is going to end up number 2 or 3. hes not going to lose his ranking. by the end of the season hes gonna be at the top again =)
and serena is going to be at the top too. shes gonna win the aussie.
and duhh nadal will win more hard court titals. hes just freakin good. he better enjoy number one while it lasts though

Posted by jared 01/15/2009 at 10:58 PM

1. This player will win his/her first major title in Melbourne:
A) Andy Murray

2. Rafael Nadal will win this many hard court major titles in his career:
C) 2

3. Roger Federer will finish the Australian Open ranked:
B) 3

4. Which of the following women has a better chance of winning the Australian Open than Venus Williams:
D) Caroline Wozniacki, did we forget that she had 3 match points against Serena a few days ago?

5. Last year in Melbourne, Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis played until the sun came up. This year they will:
A) Both be out of the tournament by the end of the first round

6. Novak Djokovic won't defend his Australian Open title because:
C) Murray has passed him by

7. James Blake, who tired down the stretch in 2008 and finished the year ranked No. 10, will:
A) Play surprisingly well in Australia and begin a year-long comeback... maybe round of 16, quarters at best

Posted by Audrey 01/15/2009 at 11:03 PM

I love Federer from the first time i saw he play, with a little diet, i"m 100 percent he will be no.1 again this year, go Fed go

Posted by Jake Ian 01/15/2009 at 11:12 PM

C
A
A
E
C
C
B

Posted by rg.nadal 01/15/2009 at 11:12 PM

D- Dinara wins as she is striking the ball with confidence and looks to be in good form
B- Rafa could finally win a hard-court slam this year
A- Novak has the maximum points to defend, so he should be the one worried about his ranking. He might be overtaken by Murray.
A- Venus Playing great right now and only an in-form Serena can take her out.
C- That match happened last year? Really?
D- He will defend. Slowly Novak seems to be regaining his form. He does well when people do nto pay him much attention as the favourite. With the focus on Murray, Novak could just focus on his performance and play his game.
A- Blake will play well at Melbourne.

Posted by Ashley Crossland 01/15/2009 at 11:15 PM

Andy Murray, Federer will be #3, Venus will win JJ suck

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