It's quickly becoming clear that being a favorite at the Australian Open will mean nothing. Whoever wins the Open this year will be the last man standing (possibly literally).
It won't be Andy Murray, who lost in five sets to Fernando Verdasco. I swear, I fell asleep last night with Murray up a break in the third set. What happened after that? Anyone? Well, I guess I'll see it in the replay, but I did suspect that Verdasco would be a bit dangerous with that Davis Cup win under his belt. As for Murray, it's back to square one trying to convince Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to take him seriously. And me too, dammit. Once again, I pick Murray to make noise in a Slam, and he comes through -- but it's a whimper.
Gael Monfils won't be the last one standing, either. He managed to win the second set against fellow Frenchie Gilles Simon, before he was waylaid by injury. It seems like it's always something with Monfils. Isn't Roger Rasheed supposed to be a fitness trainer? So what's he getting paid for, to offer unsolicited commentary on the fitness of the women on tour? He might want to focus on the job at hand, and get his charge deep into the second week of a major.
How-EVAH, I am really starting to dig Simon's game. I have never seen this guy overswing at a ball. He just absorbs power, then waits patiently to whack his own winners. He showed how dangerous he is at the end of last season, and he'll get a chance to beat Rafa Nadal, this time in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.
Who, by the way, might be a cyborg. He's tearing through the draw like he's going to be late for dinner. Unforced errors against Fernando Gonzalez: 11. Which is just pathetic compared to the eight he had in the previous round. And then only 33 winners. That's +22, people. But this is where the draw's going to get really tough for Nadal. First Simon, then probably Jo-Jo Tsonga, and most likely either Djokovic or Federer in the final. If he can beat them around the court, then it'll be official: He's a cyborg.
Decidely not a cyborg is Serena Williams, who was up against the ropes until Victoria Azarenka had to stop due to illness. For Serena, it must be nice to get through, but really, she was getting outhit and looked really sloppy in the fourth round. Next up: Svetlana Kuznetsova. This could be a really ugly match, or a really good one.
Quarterfinal previews comin' up!