First, a not 100% Serena to Ana Ivanovic, then Maria Sharapova to an inspired Cibulkova, the top seeds Brian Brothers in doubles and today Novak Djokovic goes out to a Swiss who isn't even the famous one. Stan Wawrinka stood toe to toe with Novak Djokovic like last year but this year he did one better. He won the hearts last year and he grabbed the match this year.
Seeing these upsets, the second round exit of Del Potro seem a long long time ago. He was scheduled to meet Rafa Nadal in the Quarters but will instead be replaced by a very talented Bulgarian in Grigor Dimitrov. I guess Nadal won't mind that replacement. However good, talented, future potential the 'baby Fed' may be; he is yet to prove himself at a GS level and Nadal is the ultimate challenge to have. Grigor may cause problems but taking the match in the best of five is unlikely.
Speculations at the time of the draw have fallen apart. How easy was Djokovic's draw to negotiate and how tough was Nadal, Murray and Federer's was the prime talk. Djokovic goes and either Stan Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych will be there in the Australian Open Final this year. Surely, Nadal has a huge advantage now. He is expected to outclass Dimitrov and wait for Murray and Federer to reduce each other to pieces before whosoever wins meets him in a battered state. Even otherwise, he will be favoured against an aging Roger Federer (whom he pretty much own these days) and Andy 'not so long ago injured' Murray (also owned by Rafa in Grand Slams).
Nadal might be the favourite with Novak gone but it ain't over till it's over. Nobody from Murray, Federer, Berdych, Wawrinka and Dimitrov can be discounted. They will all do their best but whose best is enough to hold the trophy this year, is to be seen.
Murray seems fit and recovered. He has lost just one set and seem to have plenty of reserves. However, a surprise development for many could be the easy win of Roger Federer over Jo Wilfried Tsonga. The famous and crowd favorite Swiss was in ominous form in his dismantling of the very dangerous Tsonga. The fickleness of Tennis pundits is such that he is even favored slightly over Murray in the Quarters tomorrow. Yet to make an impact Roger has to pass through a very tough draw, and guess what, if he fails to reach the AO finals this year Stan Wawrinka will overtake him as the No. 1 Swiss player. For that, Murray and then most probably Nadal has to be taken out. So no kindness here for One of the Greatest of All Time (GOAT), no sitting on past laurels, no aura of fear in the opponents... if he wants to do it he has to do it the hard way. Positives are that he seemed fit, back issues are not bothering, the new racquet seem to look more familiar and tactics with Stefan Edberg around are quite aggressive.
Murray has beaten Federer last year at AO but not before Federer took enough out of him and he couldn't challenge Novak as much as he would have liked. So, what would this year's theme would be if the winner is one of the following:
1. Tomas Berdych/Stanislas Wawrinka/Grigor Dimitrov - A First Time Champion/ Finally Arrived at the GS stage
2. Rafael Nadal - Strengthening the case of GOAT/Equaling Pete Sampras and only second behind Federer/Only player since Rod Laver and Roy Emerson to win twice at each GS
3. Andy Murray - Back with a Bang/ A dream return - a la Nadal/ Threat for the Year
4. Roger Federer - Return of the Champion/ Undisputed GOAT/ He isn't going nowhere
Plenty to watch out for yourselves in the last five days at Melbourne Park. For tomorrow, it's the following:
1. Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov - Last Day Match; Around 9 AM IST
2. Roger Federer vs Andy Murray - Night Match; 2 PM IST