Usually I'm able to ease into living on the other side of the International Date Line. A match here, a match there, maybe break night and stay up for a night match. Sadly that didn't happen this year.
Despite doing all I was supposed to do including getting a flu shot I got sick. Mind you I haven't been sick in ages so I was a totally miserable person. Dragging myself around, moaning, nose leaking, sore throat, the whole nine. Shit if you're going to be sick why not wallow in it? Indulge the illness. Let it take you over, make you into what it wants you to be.
Fortunately the fever broke yesterday just in time for the folks at Tennis Australia to release the Main Draws for the summer/winter Slam in Melbourne, the season depending on where you are located on the planet.
While waiting for TA to post the draws on their website (there was great coverage of Qualifying play there by the way) I decided to peruse Twitter and see what was being said about the draw.
The vast majority of Tweets I read were from outraged - OUTRAGED!!!! - Roger Federer fans. Tough Draw!!! Hard Draw!!! The obligatory O.M.G. I'm sure there was rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth but fortunately no one can see you when you Tweet so I was spared that visual. (I'm still trying to find enough brain bleach to get the image of Tim Smyczek's junk flopping in the breeze out of my head. A tennishead felt it was his/her duty to report this.)
Let's see what all the wailing was about.
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)
Ryan Harrison (USA v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Qualifier v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Radek Stepanek (CZE) 
Sam Querrey (USA)  v Unknown
Qualifier v Brian Baker (USA)
Tobias Kamke (GER) v Flavio Cipolla (ITA)
Qualifier v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 
Juan Monaco (ARG)  v Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Xavier Malisse (BEL) v Pablo Andujar (ESP)
David Goffin (BEL) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 
Jurgen Melzer (AUT)  v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Qualifier v Guillaume Rufin (FRA)
Michael Russell (USA) v Tomas Berdych (CZE) 
David Ferrer (ESP)  v Olivier Rochus (BEL)
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) v Qualifier
John Millman (AUS) v Tatsuma Ito (JPN)
Albert Ramos (ESP) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)  v Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) v Adrian Ungur (ROU)
Qualifier v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)
Victor Hanescu (ROU) v Kei Nishikori (JPN) 
Nicolas Almagro (ESP)  v Qualifier
Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) v Lukasz Kubot (POL)
Bjorn Phau (GER) v Somdev Devvarman (IND)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) v Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 
Julien Benneteau (FRA)  v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) v Qualifier
Lukas Lacko (SVK) v Gilles Muller (LUX)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)  v Qualifier
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) v Benjamin Becker (GER)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) v Qualifier
Grega Zemlja (SLO) v Marcel Granollers (ESP) 
Andreas Seppi (ITA)  v Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Igor Sijsling (NED) v Denis Istomin (UZB)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) v Qualifier
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v Marin Cilic (CRO) 
Gilles Simon (FRA)  v Filippo Volandri (ITA)
Tommy Robredo (ESP) v Jesse Levine (CAN)
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) v Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP)
Gael Monfils (FRA) v Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) 
Florian Mayer (GER)  v Rhyne Williams (USA)
Qualifier v Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Joao Sousa (POR) v John-Patrick Smith (AUS)
Robin Haase (NED) v Andy Murray (GBR) 
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)  v Michael Llodra (FRA)
Go Soeda (JPN) v Luke Saville (AUS)
James Duckworth (AUS) v Benjamin Mitchell (AUS)
Blaz Kavcic (SLO) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 
Tommy Haas (GER)  v Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
Ivan Dodig (CRO) v Di Wu (CHN)
Josselin Ouanna (FRA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Albert Montanes (ESP) v Richard Gasquet (FRA) 
Milos Raonic (CAN)  v Jan Hajek (CZE)
Qualifier v Lukas Rosol (CZE)
Qualifier v Guido Pella (ARG)
Steve Darcis (BEL) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 
Martin Klizan (SVK)  v Qualifier
Bernard Tomic (AUS) v Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
Qualifier v Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Benoit Paire (FRA) v Roger Federer (SUI) 
I'm sure you're outraged now too. I mean Roger Federer is actually going to have to compete to make it to the Final!!! The indignity of it all!!! I mean sure he gets Benoit Paire first round and Nikolay Davydenko if he makes it past Paire but really how can he be asked to have to potentially get past those guys who will not play him scared, who will come out and force His Nibs to play? If I applaud TA for nothing else it's making Federer's potential draw competitive. No thirty year olds who were fed the myth of the FedGod by coaches and Federations for years.
So where did all the Qualifiers and mentally submissive players go? Do you see it? Novak Djokovic has to face them. He is the top seed and the ranking ATP #1 so I guess he's due to be cut some slack right? Whatever. His fans were pretty happy.
And what about one Mr. Andy Murray, OBE? You could say he should breeze through but it's never that simple with Murray is it? Anyone of the seeds in his section, and some who are not, could get it into their head that they have a pretty good chance and do some damage. Lendl is going to have to work hard to keep his charge focused and stop him from looking past some of the players he'll be facing.
And what of Senor David Ferrer? He's not flying under the radar anymore.
He's also got guys in his section who can cause him a lot of problems. His issue is not only concentration and believing in himself. He has to work on conserving his strength. Two long matches back to back could take him out of contention sooner than later.
It always amazes me how some #1 players get relatively easy draws and other #1's get to play murderers row. I'll let that slide for now though.
There wasn't too much sturm und drang about the Women's draw. Why should there be?
Victoria Azarenka (BLR)  v Monica Niculescu (ROU)
Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) v Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
Qualifier v Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)
Jamie Hampton (USA) v Urszula Radwanska (POL) 
Varvara Lepchenko (USA)  v Polona Hercog (SLO)
Caroline Garcia (FRA) v Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Mathilde Johansson (FRA) v Qualifier
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) v Roberta Vinci (ITA) 
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)  v Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) v Donna Vekic (CRO)
Qualifier v Lauren Davis (USA)
Qualifier v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)  v Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino (ESP)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) v Christina McHale (USA)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) v Sara Errani (ITA) 
Serena Williams (USA)  v Edina Gallovits-Hall (ROU)
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) v Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Ayumi Morita (JPN) v Anna Tatishvili (GEO)
Annika Beck (GER) v Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)  v Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS)
Qualifier v Jana Cepelova (SVK)
Rebecca Marino (CAN) v Shuai Peng (CHN)
Vania King (USA) v Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 
Nadia Petrova (RUS)  v Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN)
Shahar Peer (ISR) v Alexandra Panova (RUS)
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP) v Bojana Jovanovski (SRB)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) v Lucie Safarova (CZE) 
Sloane Stephens (USA)  v Simona Halep (ROU)
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) v Timea Babos (HUN)
Melanie Oudin (USA) v Laura Robson (GBR)
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) v Petra Kvitova (CZE) 
Na Li (CHN)  v Sesil Karatantcheva (KAZ)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) v Olga Govortsova (BLR)
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) v Sacha Jones (AUS)
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) v Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 
Julia Goerges (GER)  v Qualifier
Romina Oprandi (SUI) v Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)
Yuxuan Zhang (CHN) v Jie Zheng (CHN)
Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) v Samantha Stosur (AUS) 
Ana Ivanovic (SRB)  v Melinda Czink (HUN)
Qualifier v Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Qualifier v Qualifier
Johanna Larsson (SWE) v Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 
Mona Barthel (GER)  v Ksenia Pervak (KAZ)
Heather Watson (GBR) v Alexandra Cadantu (ROU)
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) v Arantxa Rus (NED)
Bojana Bobusic (AUS) v Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 
Angelique Kerber (GER)  v Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Lucie Hradecka (CZE) v Kiki Bertens (NED)
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) v Madison Keys (USA)
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) v Tamira Paszek (AUT) 
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)  v Qualifier
Camila Giorgi (ITA) v Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA)
Qualifier v Olivia Rogowska (AUS)
Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) v Marion Bartoli (FRA) 
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)  v Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
Mandy Minella (LUX) v Qualifier
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) v Nina Bratchikova (RUS)
Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) v Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 
Venus Williams (USA)  v Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ)
Alize Cornet (FRA) v Marina Erakovic (NZL)
Petra Martic (CRO)v Misaki Doi (JPN)
Olga Puchkova (RUS) v Maria Sharapova (RUS) 
I'll be frank. I don't think there is anything wrong with Maria Sharapova. For whatever reason she wasn't allowed to pull a Federer and just not play any tournaments leading up to Melbourne so she entered, withdrew, and got the rest she feels she needs. The only potential threat to her is Venus Williams who has been visible all over the grounds, sitting in on one of Sloane Stephens hits. A good tournament for Venus would be to get past her early round opponents who will consider a victory against her important for their self esteem.
If there is to be a Serena vs Victoria Azarenka it will not be in the Final. The good people at TA would prefer a Sharapova vs Serena Williams Final. The powers that be want Maria to redeem herself for that beat down in London. ::Shrug::
Lets get through the first week before predicting finals.
There are some very interesting matches that while they shouldn't have any bearing on who plays in the final are important because they feature the future of women's tennis.
Take the section that features Sloane Stephens (seed), Simona Halep, Kristina Mladenovic, Timea Babos, Melanie Oudin, Laura Robson, Francesca Schiavone, and Petra Kvitova(seed). Sloane gave Serena what for before losing to her in Brisbane. Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos are garnering interest among the cognoscenti. Laura Robson is going to be out for blood proving she deserved that best newcomer of 2012 over the higher ranked Stephens. Melanie Oudin may be the one to suffer. And then there is French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone vs Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova.
To say both Schiavo and Petra have been disappointments is putting it mildly. Most of the top players barely get mentioned for tanking in the run up tournaments but Petra got beaten by Dominika Cibulkova so badly (1&1) at Sydney questions that were whispered in the Czech press were now being asked openly. Is her training appropriate? How does her asthma affect her performance? Is her asthma the cause of her being less than fit? Is she ready for the pressure cooker that top athletes live in? As for Fran I don't think she's stopped celebrating her French Open victory. Fran reached a life long goal in winning the French Open it can be said that was the cap of her career.
Petra's win should've been the start of her reign in the top five. Too much pressure? What is that expression about heat and the kitchen? We know how she can play. If she's able to put her personal demons aside and win in early rounds her name may merit more than a wry grin and a shrug of the shoulders about what could have been.