Well, I have to admit that we have a better men's draw than expected. Yeah, we're still missing some heavy hitters (Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori), but I, frankly, was surprised to see that Novak Djokovic was going to play. Same with Stan Wawrinka. We will see what happens, but the buzz on-court hasn't been about them. It's been about the guys who have been playing.
Like Roger Federer, who himself said this weekend that he has no right being the favorite at a major. He would be wrong. Just this one time. First, he's seeded second (and we'll get to Nadal, of course). Second, he is playing some ridiculous tennis. Third, he has a fairly friendly draw. Milos Raonic could be a problem, but he's just back from injury, which might make an upset there less likely. In the quarters, he could see Juan Martin del Potro or David Goffin, who, despite their size difference are equal obstacles for old man Fed. The top half of the draw is a question for him. It's likely that either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev will be the man to emerge from that quarter. Both have beaten Federer already and both are young and ready to step up. Oh, yeah, and Djokovic is in Zverev's quarter. And oh yeah, Wawrinka is in Thiem's quarter.
You noticed all the big-time name dropping there, right? This leads to the question: Who is in the top half with our friend Rafa Nadal? He's got it mostly to himself. Not to dismiss the John Isners and Marin Cilics and Grigor Dimitrovs of the world, but he's got to feel pretty good about this draw if he's healthy. The main concern about Nadal, for me, is his apparent inability to handle hard, flat hitters, such as Borna Coric (potential second round), Nick Kyrgios, who is in the bottom half of the draw, along with Lucas Pouille, who presents the same problems (and probably is walking around with a confidence boost after winning the Davis Cup for the French team last month). But man, this is a pretty sweet draw. There is one seeded player in Nadal's half who has a winning record against him, and that's because he didn't finish a match against Damir Dzumhur. And, to be fair, it looks like he's never played No. 30 Andrey Rublev. I guess I'm saying things are looking good.
Novak Djokovic. According to news reports, he still has that elbow problem, but he's here, so he probably thinks he's good to play. His first round is against Donald Young. And then probably Gael Monfils. And then seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas possibly. All to get to Zverev. Well, I would say that Novak will have many opportunities to get some rigorous match play in this coming week.
First round matches to watch:
Djokovic v. Young
Pablo Cuevas v. Mikhail Youzhny: Because Youzhny could always try to brain himself with his racquet.
Juan Martin del Potro v. Frances Tiafoe
Sam Querrey v. Feliciano Lopez