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Djokovic? Federer? The Odds-On Favorites to Win the 2012 Australian Open 52

Posted on January 12, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer won his last Australian Open title in 2010.

It is that time of the year when the snow is blowing while ice drips off your nose in the Midwest. Meanwhile, tennis moves “down under” to the warmth of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The official draw unfolded on Friday. That is when we saw whether the No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic would face Roger Federer or Andy Murray in the semifinals, assuming all the usual suspects make it that far.

Last year during the Australian Open Federer faced Djokovic in the semifinals, losing in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 while Nadal, suffering from injury, folded early in the quarterfinals to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

At the 2011 French Open, Djokovic suffered his first defeat of the season during the semifinals when Roger Federer upset him 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Nadal, on the other hand, breezed past Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.  In the final, Federer, who has never defeated Nadal at Stade Roland Garros, failed once again—losing 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1.

When the tour moved on to Wimbledon, Djokovic and Federer were once again drawn into the same half.  But this time, Federer did not meet Djokovic. He lost in the quarterfinals to an on-fire Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France—even after winning the first two sets, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal, once again, took care of Murray in the semifinals while Djokovic dismissed Tsonga.  In the final, Djokovic prevailed with surprising ease over the now world No. 2 Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

The 2011 US Open would prove to be the piece de resistance for Djokovic and a major blow for Federer. The Big Four made it to the semifinals where, once again, Djokovic faced Federer while Nadal manhandled Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  The other US Open semifinal should have gone to Federer who took the first two sets.  But even after serving for the match in the fifth set, Federer remained unable to close it out and Djokovic came back to win  6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.  In the final, Nadal was once again unable to dominate the Serb. Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1—claiming his third major title of 2011 and the No. 1 ranking.

After suffering a slump at the end of the year, pundits are once again pondering—can Djokovic do it again?  Only time will tell.  Right now, he must defend his title at the Australian Open.  Odds are in his favor at the moment.

Who will win the Aussie Open men’s title in 2012?  For a change of pace, Djokovic has been drawn into the same half as the No. 4 seed, Andy Murray while world No. 2 Nadal is scheduled to face Federer in the semifinals, should both make it that far.

Here are the top ten odds-on favorites to win the 2012 Australian Open.

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Future of Tennis “Dark Horse” Candidates Get Ready for the Upcoming U.S. Open 3

Posted on July 25, 2011 by JA Allen

The faces of the future...Milos Raonic, for one.

It stands to reason that the term “dark horse” originates from the world of horse racing.

For those betting on the outcome, it meant that setting odds became difficult when a horse was not known to gamblers.

Today, in the world of sports or politics, it signifies that a person who was not well known emerged as a winner––an unexpected winner.

So while Juan Martin del Potro may not be a “favorite” entering the 2011 U.S. Open, the Argentine cannot be regarded as a “dark horse” because he is well-known in Flushing Meadows.

Del Potro won the US Open title in 2009.

True “dark horses” are not widely known by the general viewing public because they are relatively new on the tennis scene.

These young players have not made much of a name for themselves––yet.

To date, there are six young guns ready to make their way to the top of the men’s game.

They will become the “dark horses” in the upcoming US Open, representing the future of tennis on the men’s side of the draw.

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Alexandr Dolgopolov: Rising Star in Men’s Tennis? 5

Posted on February 26, 2011 by Rob York

Robin Soderling at the 2011 Australian Open.

Robin Soderling is one of the biggest men in pro tennis, at 6’4” and nearly 200 pounds.

He has ridden one of the most overpowering serve-and-forehand combinations in the game’s history to a ranking of No. 4 in the world, scoring wins over the game’s biggest names.

And his personality, while less prone to controversy than it was just two years ago, could hardly be described as “warm.” I say all of this as a way of illustrating that the big Swede has rarely, if ever, been one to elicit sympathy.

Yet in the fourth set of his fourth-round Australian Open match, I couldn’t help but feel for the guy a little. Having battered his way past his first three opponents, he had won the first set easily, was up a break in the second and looked headed for a showdown with fellow Slam contender Andy Murray.

Alexandr Dolgopolov came alive in his match with Soderling at the 2011 Aussie Open.

Then suddenly his opponent, Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, caught fire, winning five of the last six games of set two and routing the Swede 6-1 in set three.

Suddenly, I was rooting for Soderling to win the fourth, if not the match, in the hopes of that he could leave the court having restored some respectability.

He did capture set four, forcing his streakier, less experienced opponent to play a fifth. That was a challenge Dolgopolov was up to, however, winning the final set 6-2.

As big a ball as Soderling hits – and its as big as anyone today – players such as he are always vulnerable to evolutions in the sport, as a player who relies almost entirely on serving and baseline power has little answer when another player learns how to hit bigger than he does.

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