First post on Australian Open

is dedicated to Marat Safin

Australian Open has been his best grand slam. 28-6 is quite good for a player who hasn’t been in the top for quite some time. Finalist in 2002, 2004 and winner in 2005. There must be something about Melbourne that Safin likes. Is he a good pick for the title? After Federer, Nadal and Djoko…  I think so. Even if we haven’t heard of him in a long time, and he hasn’t won 2 straight matches since Washington in July, he still has that talent and fighting qualities which makes him a contender.

Hard to believe? I don’t know what Safin is doing with his career at this point, but he seems like a guy who doesn’t like to devote ALL of his time to tennis. He climbed frickin mountains and did other stuff while his team mates were preparing for Davic Cup final. He has had come-backs before and can do it again. 2004 he started in the 80s and ended it as 4th best player. A few weeks into 2005 and he won Aussie Open by beating Federer in the SF. It has to be said, ALMOST no other play is able to do that. In fact, you probably know that Safin and Nadal are the only ones who have taken Federer out of a slam since French Open in 2004, when he lost to Kuerten.

I am not even trying to say that I think Safin could beat Federer. But hey… with a little stomach problem, a new surface, an unpredicted event takes place…. you know.

Fact is, Safin’s rankings have been a rollercoaster since his short dominance in the early 00s; perhaps he just needed some time off again to recharge his batteries and do damage in 2008 and get back in the top 10.  We will see! Only a few days to go!

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Kooyong tournament starts in a few hours with Davydenko – Baghdatis. Roddick and Ljubicic will then make sure we get some tie-breaks. Then an interesting battle between Gonzo and Nalbandian. We will finally see if Nalby is ready for Aussie Open and if he has taken his great end to 2007 into the new year. At last, Murray will test at what level Safin is at the moment. Is he really 57th in the world? I think it might be close.

safin.jpg

Will this happen again? Might be as early as first round this year. This is from SF in 2005 where Safin defeated Federer in probably the closest match in a loooong time.

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