QR’s Azureian Draw Analysis
Azureian’s not a real word, by the way. But I’m getting tired of the word blue, and “azure,” while an adjective, didn’t quite roll off the tongue the way I wanted it to, not the way “luxurious” did. Luxurious set a very high standard, clearly. So, yeah. I added a few letters. And thanks, Madrid! You’ve officially made me tired of the name of a color.
So, the azureian draw is, as noted below with my extremely sophisticated mark-up, essentially a disaster.
Particularly disastrous is Rafa’s opening round, which is against either Karlovic or Davydenko. Davydenko, as I’m sure everyone knows, has a winning record against Rafa (6-4) and in fact has beaten him on the last 4 occasions. Wow. That’s worse than I thought. Obviously Davydenko’s ranking has plummeted (to #56), but he also obviously has a game that can trouble Rafa, and additionally also, an annoying habit of playing his best tennis against Rafa. Karlovic is Karlovic–and Karlovic at altitude is even worse than normal Karlovic. So it’s really the worst possible opener for Rafa. He has had fairly decent draws in the past few tournaments, so I guess he was somewhat due for a doozy, but I feel that facing Isner–now a top 10 player–in the first round at RG last year should have exempted Rafa from all future tough opening rounds. I feel like this is a very reasonable request.
The one thing I take solace in is that at least Rafa’s not alone: Roger has an equally so-ridiculous-as-to-be-laughable opening round, against Raonic (seriously, how is his ranking so low that he can face Roger in the second round?? Get it together, Milos! Although, his win last week against Muzz is looking slightly less impressive given Muzz’s back injury and subsequent withdrawal from Madrid. But, Milos pushed David to two tie-breaks even after that.) or Nalby. Of course, Nalby will likely be a bit fatigued/under-adapted to the conditions if he continues to advance in Belgrade (he’s in the semis), because he will arrive late to Madrid. So yeah. Rafa definitely has it worse. The wurst!
Meanwhile, what of Novak? Novak is, as usual, sitting pretty in the upper left-hand corner, ready to take on those oh-so-dangerous qualifiers. Luckily, I am feeling good about a potential Manislas run. I can’t really say why–it’s possibly just because I enjoy saying the world “Manislas”–but yeah, I’m predicting the ‘slas to make it all the way to semis, after double-bageling Novak in the 3rd round. Pretty solid prediction. In the semis, ‘slas will most likely face Qualifier (i.e. PHM), because I think Roger is probably a little rusty. Seriously, the older the players get, the more difficult I think it is for them to just “jump back in” to the action after an extended vacation and/or injury break (which is why I really do fear for Roddick and Fish when they return–I don’t think it’s going to be pretty (and in fact, we already saw that last year, with Roddick–he got blitzed by Muzz in Queens, and went out to Feli at Wimbledon.)).
Meanwhile meanwhile, on the part of the draw above Rafa, there is, as usual, danger lurking, with Isner, DelPo, Youzhny, Dolg-man (I actually can see Dolg-man excelling on blue clay–would just kind of make sense, wouldn’t it?), and a few other people. Oh yeah, Harrison. How the heck did Harrison get a WC into Madrid? Plus, I thought he made a big deal last year about wanting to “earn” his way into every draw, etc. etc., and that’s why he chose to play qualies in RG instead of vying for the USTA wildcard, and then he ended up losing and not getting in. Obviously he has changed his mind (and I don’t really blame him, to be honest–but it just goes to show, sometimes it’s better to not take big principled stances on things when you’re like, 18.) So given this talent, I think it makes the most sense to choose Javier Marti, the up-and-coming Spaniard who almost beat Fer in Brazil, as the likely semi-finalist. Rafa will play him (after defeating the oldie but goodie Juanqui in the quarters), and then finally, squeak past Qualifier (again, most likely PHM) in two tight sets in the final, 7-5, 6-4.
To conclude, here is a picture of Rafa today, making friends with the blue clay.