Almost - for the first time ever, all Top 8 seeds make it in the final 8 of a Grand Slam. Yeah, that would've been nice, if top pick Andy Murray hadn't crashed out in the 4R against Verdasco. Oh well.

Nadal vs Simon
It has to be said - Nadal did not enter the competition as the favorite, which is a true disgrace as he is the top seed. As all eyes were heavily focused on his rivals, Nadal was quietly going through, nay, razing through his section of the draw. Time to make a U-turn, as he is most likely to wind up in the final.

Expect this encounter with Simon to be a marathon of sorts. Lots of baseline rallies from both players, and Simon risking a little bit more to out manouver Nadal. Still, the Frenchman will not have all the answers in his Grand Slam QF debut, and will fold in four sets.

Verdasco vs Tsonga
Tsonga is out there to prove his finish last year was no one-hit wonder. And Verdasco is suddenly gaining attention for slapping pundits and Andy Murray out of the tournament. I'm favoring Muhammad Ali here for a strong finish.

Roddick vs Djokovic
Hey, everyone seems to have forgotten poor Andy Roddick as a GS contender. He's been coasting like Nadal through his draw, but the draw gods were not kind to Roddick as he faces the defending champion in the QF. Nole will get through by utilising his complete game and off-balancing Andy with superior shot placement. I'd say 4 sets.

Del Potro vs Federer
That near-miss from Federer must still sting by now. When Tipsarevic tried to tug at Federer last year, King Roger was maimed and fell by the semis. This year, Roger fell behind 2 sets down but managed a glorious comeback. I think that if Del Potro nabs a set off him - Roger will go crash and burn. Not just yet, not in this round yet.

Semis and Final
Nadal over Tsonga in 5 stellar sets. I want to see Nadal win over Tsonga as revenge for last year's loss. It was so bad for Nadal that I actually had to use 'helpless' to describe him. How often does that happen?

Hopefully, another replay of 2008 semis, both with different results. No time to wast for Federer in surpassing Pete's record, but Nadal is a major threat. I'm going for Nadal to win his first hardcourt major, and Federer left following the sport's pecking order as #2.

Playing catchup is hard to do!

The golden season continues...
Women's Quarterfinals

Vera vs Marion
There's plenty to like with Marion - the quick smile, the quirky dance before serving that adoration for James Bond...but it's her tennis that stand from all of is. A weird looking double-handed forehand that produces so much spin that left two world #1s dazzled with her returns. Expect her to use these shots against an average Zvonareva, and return to the semifinal 4 in 3 long sets.

Jelena vs Dinara
Marquee match of this round. Jelena has been the darling of the crowd for the past week, after donning the Aussie flag and carrying the sentimental vote. I'd vote for her, but she's physically exhausted already from her grueling win over Kleybanova. It wasn't just the lengthy match, but the extensive amount of running done. A steady Safina who learned her lesson last year in digging dip, and creating turnaround matches will prevail in two.

Elena vs Carla
Giant-killer Carla's dream run will end here. A dominating Elena cooled off red hot winner Dominika in relentless fashion in the previous round. Just what Elena needed, a calming match just before the final barrage of matches. Dementieva in 2.

Svetlana vs Serena
Serena will out power and outplay with confidence in straight sets.

Semi finals and Final
I smell an all-Russian affair for the final, but an all-Russian affair at the semis? Quite possible, and that's with Sharapova by the sidelines. Though I picked Serena to ruin the Russian parade at the semis, a win is due for Elena Dementieva (my pick again!) with compatriot Dinara as runner-up in a replay of the Beijing Olympics.

Close, but not quite there yet

You don't waste too many chances to win! Finally!
Hot favorite Andy Murray was outgunned in the 4th round. Top seed Jankovic also dumped. Federer almost a casualty. Some of the headlines this first four rounds in Melbourne. Quarterfinal predictions to follow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2009 Australian Open

It feels like so long ago when I watched some Grand Slam action; moreover, I'm not reporting courtside this year (It's been that long!) But tradition still calls and here's the predictions for the first week and a half of what going on in Melbourne.

where the action is!

Men's Draw
Defending Champion: Novak Djokovic

Quarter I
Surely Nadal is the top star in this quarter, but may not necessarily be the top draw. Watch out as local favorite Hewitt start his campaign against fellow runner up Fernando Gonzalez; definitely people will be flocking in Rod Laver Arena, or camping out in Federation Square. It doesn't get any easier for him after that, as potential foes include Gasquet, Canas, and finally the top seed.

QF Match: Nadal vs Monfils

Quarter II
All eyes are on Murray even if he trails the ranking games, he's the one blazing through the ATP Tour these past 4 months. Plus, he's put on a less surly outlook that made the crowd appreciate him. It's a fairly easy draw for him, until the quarters. Saw Murray got trashed by eventual runner up in the opening day of AO 08, and hopefully the results will be different in the round of 8.

QF Match: Murray vs Tsonga

Quarter III
Djokovic and his complete clan came in N-O-L-E shirts, and it was indeed a fairytale story for them and their home country (I'm sure some part of those proceeds went to fund Serbia's first ATP tournament). Though his hard court season was been so-so, it looks like an easy four rounds for Novak who can face Roddick in the quarters. However, Roddick's set is a mish-mash of his contemporaries (Ferrero, Nalbandian, Robredo) and throw in his conqueror last year (Kohlschreiber), it's a fairly open draw.

QF Match: Roddick vs Djokovic

Quarter IV
It's really hard to imagine the finalists not come from the quadrumvirate (I propose to use tetrumvirate, but it may mislead more than highlight the number "4"), and also hard to imagine that Federer will not be a contender for it. It's time to meet Sampras' record Roger!
Do pay attetion to Marin Cilic as he may put up a good run here - he played well last year, and a QF appearance (following his win in Chennai) is just about due.

QF Match: Cilic vs Federer


Women's Singles
Defending Champion: Maria Sharapova

Melbourne lost a lot of star power this year with Sharapova's withdrawal. Sure, she's missed out a lot of tournaments due to that bum shoulder of hers, but it's a bit more pressure when you're the defending champion. She ascended to the championship in a fashion similar to her 06 Flushing Meadows win, let's see if someone will stamp their dominance from the opening rounds.

Quarter I
This could be the tournament that will save Jelena from all the doubts plaguing her "Slamless #1" curse. Her draw is the softest one in either men's and women's and even her QF might be easy. Anything less than last year's show might be considered as a letdown.

QF Match: Jelena vs Vera

Quarter II
Heavily stacked section of the draw, but no other contenders spring up apart from Dinara and Ana. Too bad they're slated to meet at the QF stage.

QF Match: Dinara vs Ana

Quarter III
I'll save a lot on space and replay what I predicted (hoped) for US Open 2008. Elena Dementieva. Save for a potential date with Venus Williams, she should get by this draw easily. However, 2 tournament wins will do make you a bit exhausted.

QF Match: Venus vs Elena

Quarter IV

Every other year, Serena roosts down under to pick up her Grand Slam. Not too far fetched from happening, as the sisters just stroll onto tennis majors and pick up a prize. Now that Serena is pumped, ready and on a roll, it's only a matter of time before she grabs the top ranking and reign once again as the best female player.

QF Match: Agnieszka vs Serena

I landed on my desk at 5 in the morning, hence this useless post. I'm actually panicking as I am broke. Broke, broke, broke and can not travel, tsk! I'll show why in a couple of days, but I'm a wee bit panicky right now.

On a lighter note, I've sworn of those useless New Year resolutions, but seem to have landed one myself. On 1/1/09, I finally gotten an earful of The Resolution by Jack's Mannequin. Now, if anyone can point me to a copy of The Glass Passenger, I'd be most grateful. It's been a very long time for me and me buddy Andrew McMahon.
Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Best Music of 2008 - The Top 10

It's the last few days of the year, and it's time to give this list a wrap. I'll be posting videos/song of my favorite songs of the year, and will be updating this page everyday. Not exactly sure how it feeds into my Multiply account, so just click on this link to see the updated list.

10. Breakeven - The Script

Love it much more than TMWCBM, especially when it goes 'what am I supposed to do when the best of me has always been you?' Breakups are never mutually fair, and never fully equitable. You got that part right, mate.

9. Wow - Kylie Minogue

It's catchy, it's summery, and I can't stop bopping my head to it. Too bad I can't find the rap remix of it.

8. Mariah Carey - I Stay In Love

There's a specific memory from this song - I remember hearing it after an adreline rush of a concert called Lifehouse. It was a calming, yet interesting song that convinced me that the new album was worth a listen.

7. Calvin Harris - The Girls

Calvin Harris lands as the breakthrough dance artist this year, marginally beating Justice in the process. His 80s inspired beats is probably something we may need to hear less of, but that was a good decade for music still. Check out his video blog and find out how to make those fly shades.

6. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly

Quietly went through unnoticed, until that suprise victory at the Oscars. Poignant, sweet, and understated, it's a great movie, with a heartwarming soundtrack. Thank Ireland for producing a high ratio of wounded, broken singers per capita.

5. Taken By Cars - A Weekend Memoir (In High Definition) - Don't call it the token OPM in the list, because this one totally earned it. First heard the song at Octoberfest (in September), and then I knew, I found the best local act for the year. Bring on the shoegaze!

4. Jason Mraz featuring James Morrison - Details In The Fabric
The song is as intricate as the melody it weaves, and the fading in/out voices of the gentlemen. Morrison's raspy voice texture provides an excellent contrast to Mraz's solid voice. It's brilliant, and once again, Jason delivers another solid record.

3. Metro Station - Shake It
It's so catchy II can't take it out of my head. Forget the commercial that featured it (or the kids singing it look like mini Marilyn Manson), but you won't be able to stop moving to this song. Perfect to lift your spirits, whenever, wherever you are.

2. One Republic - All We Are
It was the year of Ryan Tedder and friends - he wrote almost every other song that was released this year, and I wonder where he gets all the energy to write all of them. This song stands out particularly in that album, as they funnel all that catharsis in one screamingly good song.

1. Lifehouse - Broken
A much much awaited concert with a heartbreaking finale all on top of a great radio remix, and a 6th Sense video. They replaced their finale song Everything, with this, and it was absolutely deserving. That alone speaks heaps. The crowning glory of my music year.