The top half is where we find three of the four biggest heavyweights of the sport- Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, seeded first, third and fifth respectively. Andy Murray is placed in the opposite side of the draw. Other seeded players – Nishikori, Raonic, Gasquet, Thiem and Monfils. Kyrgios, Dimitrov, Kohlschreiber, Zverev and Pospisil also headline this half.
World number one and defending champion Djokovic is drawn to lock horns with the King of Clay- Nadal, ranked fifth, in the quarterfinals. Both of them are in an electric form and nothing but a quality match can be expected out of this duel. The Serb faces a qualifier in his opening match. He could face Monfils or Cuevas in the next round before setting a thrilling quarterfinal.
Nadal opens against either a qualifier or Kohlschreiber. He could then face either tenth seeded Raonic or Kyrgios who are projected to meet each other other in second round. Both these players open against Italian wildcards Cecchinato and Carusso respectively. Nadal is on a 6 match and 13 set losing streak against the World No.1
Third seed Federer is drawn to meet Nishikori in the quarterfinals. Federer has arguably received the toughest draw of all. He plays either Zverev or Dimitrov in his first match in almost four weeks, as he continues to get on the saddle during this injury plagued season.
His task doesn’t get any easier, as he plays Thiem next, who seems to be in a pretty good shape. Dolgopolov could be a possible opponent if Thiem doesn’t make it to the round of 16. Nishikori opens against Gabashvili or Troicki. He is then drawn to meet Gasquet. Gasquet opens against fellow Frenchman Benneteau and then the winner of the Seppi-Pospisil match would be his next challenge.
Prediction- Should the seeding hold, Federer would be facing Djokovic in the semifinals, however, neither Nadal nor Nishikori can be put out of contention. Going by form, the winner of the Djokovic – Nadal quarter should be heavy favourite to make the final.
Murray, Wawrinka, Tsonga, Berdych and Ferrer are placed in the bottom half of the draw. Other notable names on this side are Goffin, Bautista Agut, Anderson, Coric, Lopez and Tomic, along with Sock, Chardy, Paire, Fognini and Karlovic.
World number two Murray is drawn to meet Berdych in the quarterfinals. Murray opens against Coric or a qualifier. Should he make through, he will play Bautista Agut or Jeremy Chardy prior to his quarterfinal match. Bautista Agut plays against local hope Paolo Lorenzi. Berdych plays either Ramos Vinolas or Querrey in his first match. He could then face either Goffin or Sock, who could play each other in the second round.
On the other side a potential Wawrinka vs Tsonga quarterfinal match could happen. Wawrinka opens against either Paire or Tomic. He could then go on to face Anderson or Lopez. Tsonga plays his first match either against Karlovic or a qualifier. Then he possibly could face Ferrer or a Fognini, before finally reaching the last 8.
Prediction- I pick Murray to reach the final, after taking out Wawrinka in the quarter considering his recent run at the Madrid Open.
Play gets underway on Monday.
-Vishakha Khandelwal [Vishakha is a Tennis Analyst for Sportz Cosmos. You can reach her at the gmail id : sportzcosmos]