Saturday, January 22, 2011

Australian Open: The Rafa Slam

Getty Images
All eyes are on Rafa!

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has advanced to the Fourth Round at the Australian Open and is one step closer to making history.

If Nadal goes on to win the Aussie, he will become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all 4 major championships simultaneously. Laver, however, won all 4 in the same calendar year and is still the last man to hold the true Grand Slam. But since no player since Laver has won 4 Grand Slams in a row, many are dubbing this the "Rafa Slam" if Nadal can pull off the astronomical feat. This would be the equivalent of the "Tiger Slam" when Tiger Woods incredibly won all 4 majors in a row.

But Rafa still has a lot of work to do. He has a tough match coming up against No. 15 Marin Cilic and if he advances, fellow countryman and World No. 7 David Ferrer is in the horizon.

And down the road in the Semifinals he most likely will face one of the bigger boys, either, No. 4 Robin Soderling or No. 5 Andy Murray, who are both hungry to win their first-ever Grand Slam title. Soderling and Murray are a combined 0-4 in Grand Slam finals.

And for Rafa, that's the easy part.

On the other side of the spectrum lurks World No. 2 and potential finalist, the great Roger Federer. Federer, himself, still has some work to do. Interestingly enough, he may face No. 8 Andy Roddick in the Quarterfinals. Roddick, AS USUAL, is the only American left in the field and has always played Federer well. So it should be an interesting match if it were to materialize.

Getty Images - The Great Federer is still lurking in the bushes.
Another interesting possibility for Federer would be a Quarterfinal match against No. 19 Stanislas "I'm Also A Tennis Player From Switzerland" Wawrinka. What an accomplishment it would be for Wawrinka, who has lived in the shadows of Federer his entire career, if he can defeat his fellow countryman and advance to the Semifinals. I'm sure it would be the biggest highlight of his career by far. But a tall order, indeed.

Whoever survives between Federer, Roddick and Wawrinka would most likely have the daunting task of facing World No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the Semifinals. And that ain't gonna be no walk in the park, for sure. But I get the feeling that the Great Federer is on a mission.

Anyway, going back to the American front--

As I said earlier, Andy Roddick is, yet again, America's lone survivor in a Grand Slam event. As I stated in a post last summer, Roddick has been holding the fort for American men's tennis for a LONG, LONG time. And who knows how much longer he can carry the weight on his shoulders?

As for the other Americans, No. 16 Mardy Fish lost in the 2nd Round, No. 18 Sam Querrey lost in the 1st round and No. 20 John Isner lost in the 3rd Round. Another disappointing Grand Slam for the guys who are supposed to take the baton from the soon-to-be 29 year old Roddick.

Personally, I thought this Australian Open would be the breakout tournament for either Sam Querrey or John Isner, who are the youngest of the American bunch. But based on their disappointing performances with each passing Grand Slam event it doesn't seem that they are "big stage" material and all of America's hopes will remain on the shoulders of Andy Roddick. And that folks, is the reality of the situation. What a shame!

For my post on the state of U.S. Men's tennis click here.

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