Jan 23, 2023

Australian Open Beanalysis: Round Four (Bottom Half)

Ok guys listen, I know I missed the top half of the draw two times in a row, but it’s not because I hate Tsitsipas and am waiting for him to get out before writing again, trust me! Anyway, I had trouble with my internet connection yesterday, so I couldn’t pull any information to base my writeups on. I had time, and I could’ve written them, and I actually did try, but they kinda sucked. Now I’m back in my natural habitat, (which may or may not be the back of a cupboard) and I should be perfectly fine to finish all the rest of the writeups for this year’s AO.

Rublev vs. Rune

Andrey just beat Dan Evans in what seemed to be a complete landslide, and upon further inspection of the stats, it was. Evans did not win a single return game, and Rublev broke at least once every set. The serves were pretty close on, but this match was in the actual points themselves more than it was the serves. The kicker was in the difference between them in winners, Rublev had 40 more winners than Evans, meaning he completely controlled most of the points in the match. I think this kind of offense will be a bit more challenging for Rune, especially since Rublev won’t have the impatience of Humbert.

I actually was able to watch the Rune Humbert match the other day, or at least the last two sets of it. I was watching live when the injury happened, and I’m not gonna lie I kinda got really mad lol. I thought it was gonna be so bad that he lost and then this match wouldn’t have happened. The injury really seemed to do more to Humbert than it did Rune, because Rune looked fine, while Humbert did not look alright, mentally. The match was actually pretty fun to watch, and some of the points they played were amazing. Rune really hit it out of the park with this one, he almost played better after the injury. Of course, there were only like a couple games that I watched prior to the injury. The only concern going into this match for Rune is if the wrist healed, he made the mistake of trying to block the fall with his hands, which ended up messing with his wrist. It did not look to be a problem throughout the rest of the match, but the only thing would be if it got worse over the day off. I don’t think it would’ve, his team would’ve probably been on it, and he’s also really young, so his injuries would heal pretty quickly. In terms of how this match would go, Rublev had a lot more control over the points in the last match, and he was able to completely shut Evans out. I don’t think this will be the case with Rune, but I still think he will win out in the end. Rune was able to take advantage of Humbert’s mental instability, and win the match. Rublev will not have that instability, and is also a much better player. I think Rune will definitely make this one a 5-setter, I just don’t know if he can pull off the win in the end. Rublev in 5.

de Minaur vs. Djokovic

GAH!! WHY MUST THEY PUT ALL THE GOOD MATCHES SO LATE TO WHERE I CAN’T WATCH THEM! THAT IS NOT COOL GUYS! I guess highlights will have to do, or maybe the PR team will be generous and release the whole match like the US Open is doing. I think they’ve released most of the matches from last year’s US Open, so maybe AO will do the same. de Minaur had an easy match against Bonzi the other night, and he won in straight sets, as was to be expected pretty much. The stats on this match were a tad confusing. With a scoreline of 7-6 6-2 6-1, de Minaur had 7 breaks, and Bonzi had 3. That just doesn’t look right to me. Hey, whatever works I guess. The unforced errors and an inability to return first serves is what really did Bonzi in for that match. Oh, Bonzi took a tumble as well. Hmmm… It didn’t look like it hurt, but I also wasn’t watching the whole match, just the highlights. Well, if it was an injury I wish him a speedy recovery. de Minaur is looking good, of course, I wish he would’ve gotten a better draw, he might’ve done a lot better in another section. But life does as life does.

Ah, hello again Novak, you never really leave do you. Not that I don’t like you, I just think, maybe giving someone else (Rafa and Fed don’t count) a slam here and there would be nice. Djokovic is the last previous slam winner in the draw as of the moment Murray got out last round. Now the draw is edging nearer and nearer to its close, and Djokovic looks like he is not stopping anytime soon. His match against Dimitrov was something else entirely. If I could only watch one match from each round, that one would be the one I pick from Round Three (even though I already watched Rune vs. Humbert.) Regardless, I watched the highlights, and that was enough for me to know Dimitrov was actually in form this week, and Novak winning in straight sets was a testament to his incredible level of play. Djokovic had a crap ton more winners than Dimitrov, but he almost matched that number in terms of unforced errors. I think that is what kept the match competitive. If Novak keeps that number of unforced errors through the rest of this tournament, it may not be slam 22 for him. Knowing Novak though, he will definitely make some changes if things keep going like that. He also failed to drop a set in the match, meaning the errors did less than you’d think they would. I don’t know, de Minaur could possibly capitalize, but I don’t know if he’ll get more than a set. I think it’ll be a close match, but really I’m expecting Djokovic to win in 4 barring injury.

Shelton vs. Wolf

An All American Classic! But not really what anyone was expecting a few rounds ago. Shelton made quick work of Popyrin, which was very unexpected, considering Popyrin had just beaten Fritz, but then again, Holt beat him at the US Open, and then lost to Cachin in the next round, so maybe it’s a common thing, I don’t know. Shelton did really well though, winning every single one of his service games. I don’t know what happened to Popyrin, but it was not good. The return games from Shelton weren’t all that great, but they were definitely better than Popyrin’s showing. He made around 10 more winners overall, and won a pretty decent chunk of the points at 56%. I don’t know exactly where all the difference came from, but hey, if he won, he won. Shelton should be looking to take this explosiveness, especially that serve, into this next match. And maybe with some good play, maybe into the next round as well.

WOLVES BABY! WHAT DID I TELL YOU GUYS? WOLVES! Specifically JJ Wolf in this scenario, but I’m sure it transfers to other things, like “who would beat a chicken in a fight?” Or perhaps “what is the most common spirit animal for douchebags?” There’s tons of applications for you to pick wolves. JJ was really able to take advantage of Mmoh’s poor ability to hold serve, I don’t really know how that happened considering he’s literally the guy who beat USO finalist Zverev. Anyway, Wolf really did him in, especially when it came to hitting winners, only 11 from Mmoh, and Wolf had 36. The match went very quickly, only 25 games for the entire match. Mmoh must’ve just fallen apart after the marathon match with Zverev, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere. Wolf just started better. So this match really doesn’t have a lot of clear answers, both of them having just breezed through their opponents. I think Shelton will be much better off in the service department, and so if it comes down to the wire, his serve should probably get him through as long as it’s consistent. Wolf is really just gonna have to wear him down and grind. It’s either gonna be a grueling battle to the end, or it’s gonna be quick. If Wolf is gonna win, it’s probably gonna be in 5. But Shelton can do it in 4. Shelton in 4 is what I’d gravitate towards, but it’s a very close looking match, be wary if you’re betting on it.

Bautista Agut vs. Paul

Well, we’ve officially stopped the dark horse that was Murray. I knew it was coming eventually, guys with titanium hips usually don’t make slam quarterfinals and such. Of course, Murray refused to lose in three sets like everyone else in the bottom half of the draw. Murray’s first serve was, to put it lightly, bad. Or at least when compared to everyone else. You just have to be different, don’t you Andy? Whatever, RBA definitely was able to take advantage of this fact and win 6 service games throughout the match. He lost two of his, and I don’t exactly know how, considering Murray’s return points won stats were worse than his serve percentage. I know this was all probably due to the extreme conditions and also the fact that just getting to round three took him 10 on court hours. That would do me in as well. To be honest, my serve percent would be about half of Murray’s after 10 on court hours in just a few days. RBA was simply in better shape than Murray, and that made it much easier to win. Ironically, his win was harder to get than literally everyone else in his half of the draw.

I’ve been waiting for Tommy Paul to make a random deep slam run ever since he went seed smashing back at the end of 2021. It would look like we are close to that here. He’s honestly been getting closer and closer as time went on last season, and when he beat Nadal and then PCB at Paris last year, my hopes went up for him to have a good season this year. He’s started it out pretty darn well if you ask me. Paul actually had the worse serve in the last match, but he was able to gain control of the points so easily, and he didn’t really let Brooksby win that many points. I think that ability to make the points go in his favor even if his serve is going haywire is something that more tennis players need. I think it’ll definitely be helpful against RBA, and that also would explain how he was able to beat the 5-set win king ADF. So I think that this match could go the way of RBA, he’s been playing well in this tournament, but I feel like the ability to make points go under his control, like some sort of ball hypnosis, is going to net him a win. The way Paul has dethroned seeds in the past makes me think that his smashing career is gonna really go somewhere, and that somewhere might just start here. Paul in 4 or 5.