Notes of the Draw Sheet: Happy people in January

Caroline Wozniacki

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN — Just before the Grand Slams open, so many people will be fresh, fast and happy. Tennis-wise, in January, most of the people had decided to rest for a couple weeks — at least — not hitting the ball, just thinking about new things.

But when they finally walk on the court again and swing, will he or she pay attention? And listen to their coaches. And really try.

In a few days, we can talk about who will actually win the AO? Will it be Novak Djokovic, who has won it so many times? Caro Wozniacki, who won it last year. While she isn’t playing great right now, she loves to play on the hard courts? Maybe Roger Federer again, or Serena Williams, etc. …
Sloane Stephens lost pretty early, last week. This week, she went down against Yulia Putintseva 3-6, 7-6(4),6-0. The No. 5 doesn’t play fantastic outside of the Slams, but she sure has had success since the 2017 US Open.
Petra Kvitova won in Sydney on Wedneday, and she is ranked No. 8. Win or lose, when she gets here to the AO, she has to be more consistent and determined. That is the only chance to win it for the first time in Australia. She is more mature, so maybe she will be very focused. Maybe.

Sam Stosur lost again. At the AO, for a solid decade, she has had no real success. After she leaves Australia, she can play damn good, especially by blasting her forehand and her big serves. But here, she is so nervous, all the time. I would be surprised if she reaches the second week. I really do. Sometimes, people just cannot change.

In Hobart, 20-year-old Sofia Kenin upset Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2, and of Thursday, she took down the 33-year-old Kirsten Flipkens. Once again, the American women are rising. Slowly.

There have been some fine wins by the Aussie Alex de Minaur in Sydney. He is only 19 years old, and he is coming up pretty fast. He beat Jordan Thompson, and he has reached the semis. Next week, guess who will he play assuming he is moves through the first two rounds: Rafa Nadal. Now that will be a blast to watch on Rod Laver Arena.

Some note on a few American seeded men: Steve Johnson could play against the big basher Kevin Anderson, and the improved John Isner could play the struggling Grigor Dimitrov. Isner has said that he has really been affected by very tough losses at the AO — five setters — but now, he is more directed. BTW: Isner lost to Taylor Fritz in Auckland. The Californian hung in there, but then he lost against Cameron Norrie. Oh well.

Believe it or not, Jack Sock received a wild card. He will face the Aussie Alex Bolt, and if he wins — and that is a very big if — he might have to go up against the tricky player Gilles Simon. After that, in the third round, it could be going against the No. 4 Alexander Zverev. Impossible, or potentially very exciting. …   

A good move by the USTA, choosing the new Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish. That is super interesting. I cannot wait to see the new Davis Cup this year. …

On Friday and Saturday, we will dissect the men and the women’s draws. There are already a bunch of compelling matchups: like Raonic vs Kyrgios,
Cilic vs Tomic, Edmund vs Berdych, Gorges vs. Collins and Halep vs. Kanepi. It is always fascinating, the fabulous first rounds.