The terms Slam and Grand Slam came to tennis in the 1930s from the popular
game of bridge. From the start, the Australian championships were one of the
four Slam tournaments, even though the slowness of surface travel to Australia
hitherto limited player entries from abroad. By World War II only three players
from Europe or America had yet captured the Australian men's
championships--Borotra in 1928, Perry in 1934, and Budge in his Grand Slam year of 1938. After
the war, home-player dominance persisted as Australian stars won the
tournament in 20 of the first postwar 23 renditions. That pattern began to change
starting in 1969 when pros were first admitted to the tournament, which was
thereafter known as Australian Open. No Australian male has won the event since 1976.
In 1988 the Open moved to its current site, now called Melbourne Park, and
the playing surface, which had always been grass, was changed to Rebound Ace, an
artificial material whose rubberized content gave mild cushioning. A
relatively slow bounce was sought with the idea of equalizing matters between players
having strong groundstrokes, typically players raised on clay, and those
strong-serving, net-playing stars who were at their best on nonclay. But the high
traction needed to give the slow bounce, along with the stickiness that came
with midsummer heat, led to an inordinate number of ankle and leg injuries. The
Rebound Ace topmost-layer mix was therefore altered over the years, reducing
the traction, so that the bounce speed at Melbourne Park became only slightly
slower than at U.S. Open and most other hard-court events.
Since last year's tournament the courts have been rebuilt using Plexicushion
Prestige--an acrylic surface having less rubber and more consistency in playing
characteristics. With Plexicushion, as with Rebound Ace, the speed of the
bounce is tailored by adjusting the composition of the topmost layer. Public
statements by officials indicate that a slightly faster, slightly lower bounce
than before has been sought, reducing the foot traction.
Meanwhile a larger trend is becoming evident in men's tennis. The top players
from the traditional clay-court regions--Spain, continental Europe, and South
America--are becoming stronger on fast surfaces. The extreme-topspin, backcourt
style that once characterized players from these regions is now rarely seen
in pure form. Stars like Nalbandian, Gonzalez, Ferrer, and Gasquet seem equally
comfortable on fast hard courts as on clay. Meanwhile our calculations show
the same tendency, where Garros and the other leading clay events have in the
last two years more closely predicted the major nonclay tournaments, including
Australian Open, than they had previously.
Pre-tournament temperatures at Melbourne soared this week. Many players
supported the new rule, where matches at the Open will be temporarily halted at the
end of a set when heat becomes excessive. (Previously, matches once started
were not interrupted.) Also, play can be moved into the Laver or Vodaphone
arenas, both of which have retractable roofs.
As always, the tournament promises high drama. For participating players at
all levels, every contest presents a critical test in ones personal career, the
world watching. Tennis writers and analysts can expect a feast of
riches--countless subplots as the grand theater unfolds. But almost certainly, interest
will be widest on the tournament's implications for Roger Federer's journey to
ROGER AND THE GRAND SLAM
The Grand Slam in tennis is among the rarest achievements in men's sports.
The winning of all four Slams in a single calendar year was first attained by
Budge in 1938 and then by Laver in 1962. In both these cases, however, a number
of high-level superstars--all of them probably stronger than anyone in the
remaining opposition--were absent. (Perry and Vines were barred as pros in 1938,
as were Rosewall, Hoad, Gimeno, and Gonzales in 1962. Also absent in 1938 was
von Cramm, imprisoned by the Nazis.) Thus Rod Laver's 1969 Grand Slam is alone
undiminished by such considerations.
Roger Federer came close to winning all four Slams in 2006 and 2007, when in
both years he captured the three nonclay Slams and reached the final at
Garros. Over the past 48 months, Roger has won eleven of the last twelve nonclay
Slams, a monumental run of success bearing comparison with the best four-year
period of any player in tennis history. He is now aged 26, only slightly older
than the statistical age of peak results in Slams.
Federer is assuredly the favorite to win the forthcoming Australian Open. But
his chances at Melbourne Park are probably not as strong as his four-year
record suggests. His late tournament preparation was interrupted by a stomach
virus, which kept him out of his accustomed tune-up at Kooyong Classic,
Melbourne, last week. More significantly, it is unmistakable that 2007 brought a
drop-off in Roger's dominance on nonclay surfaces. During the year he lost six
matches in nonclay prime events, against a total of only six such losses in the
three preceding years. Further, Roger's losses became more frequent late in the
year. (Following his triumph at U.S. Open, he lost at both Madrid and Paris
indoors, he lost in the round-robin phase at Masters Cup to Gonzalez, and he lost
to Pete Sampras in their last exhibition, played in Macau.) While it remains
almost axiomatic that Roger at his very best will always defeat any opponent,
it has seemed increasingly difficult for Roger consistently to summon his very
best. It also appears that the depth and quality of his opposition is
improving, especially among the younger group.
A way of quantifying Roger's chances to win Australia 08 is to take his
match-winning percentage in major nonclay events--i.e., slightly over 90%, an
average of his four-year and one-year records--and raising this value to the
seventh power. (To win Australia he must win seven straight matches.) By doing so we
reach a probability of 0.50, or even odds, for Roger to triumph at Melbourne
Park, a value reasonably consistent with subjective evaluation.
Looking farther ahead, Roger's chances at both Wimbledon and U.S. Open should
be about the same as at Australia, i.e. 50%, while at Garros somewhat less
so. Overall, then, his chances for winning all four Slams this year are about
one in twenty. Meanwhile Roger is very aware that 2008 is an Olympic year. No
player has ever achieved the "Golden Slam"--winning all four Slams plus the
Olympic crown in a given year. Roger's chances for the Golden Slam are quite long
although finite, probably about one in forty. If he succeeds, there could be
little argument that it would be the supreme achievement in men's tennis history.
Listed here are the top contenders for Australia 08, as identified by our
calculations, which weight recent results. Our list deviates from the list of
official seeds, mainly in moving Nalbandian and Murray into the top eight,
displacing Gasquet and Gonzalez, and also in raising Berdych to #9. Shown are our
raw scores ("Sc") along with each player's calculated odds for winning the tournament.
(See the footnote on the calculations.)
#1. Federer, raw score Sc 6.37, odds even.
#2. Nadal, Sc 4.30, odds 5-1. Rafa's success on nonclay seemed to peak in
reaching the final at Wimbledon 07. He then lost to Ferrer at U.S. Open, to
Nalbandian at Madrid and Paris indoors, and to Ferrer and Federer at Masters Cup.
#3. Djokovic, Sc 4.02, odds 7-1. The fast and powerful Serb youth, now 20,
reached the final at U.S. Open 07 but then sagged late in the year. He won four
matches at Hopman Cup last week without loss.
#4. Davydenko, Sc 2.88, odds 24-1. An excellent mover and stroker whose 2007
was clouded by suspicion of purposely losing in a European tournament. He
failed to reach the final four at Masters Cup and played only doubles in Russia's
final-round meeting with U.S. in Davis Cup. Seems slightly over-ranked here.
#5. Ferrer, Sc 2.83, odds 26-1. His wonderfully balanced game jelled
splendidly starting in late summer, carrying him to the final match at Masters Cup 07.
Started 2008 at Auckland this week with two wins and a loss.
#6. Roddick, Sc 2.73, odds 31-1. Has reached the semis three times at
Melbourne Park, losing last year to Federer by one-sided scores. His superb
performance in 2007 Davis Cup action carried into the final-round victory over Russia
in September. Andy won the Kooyong Classic tune-up in both 2005 and 2006, and
he won his first two matches there this week. Appears under-rated here.
#7. Nalbandian, 2.59, odds 40-1. Rose powerfully in late 2007, capturing
Madrid and Paris indoors. Did not play at Masters Cup but won the Copa Argentina
at Buenos Aires Tennis Club in mid-December, defeating Horna, Chela, and Monaco
without losing a set. After withdrawing from Kooyong Classic this week with
severe back pain, he expressed doubt as to his ability to play in the Open.
#8. Murray, 2.07, odds 124-1. Held back with injuries in 2007. Won the
tune-up tournament at Doha last week, showing a win over Davydenko. Lost then to
Safin but beat Ljubicic at Kooyong. At age 20, a contemporary and near-equal of
Djokovic, with comparable mobility and power.
#9 Berdych 2.04, odds 133-1. Tall and strong at age 22, with excellent power
and good movement. Won three times at Melbourne last year before losing to
Davydenko in four sets. Started the New Year well with two wins at Hopman Cup
without loss and two wins and a loss in the Sydney tune-up.
all others, odds 170-1 or longer.
An interesting exercise is to pick out players likely to exceed the
computer's expectations--the tournament's possible overachievers. At last year's
Australian Open the most-overachieving player was tenth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez,
whose always powerful game suddenly acquired a high level of control and
consistency. Gonzalez compiled six consecutive victories including a win over Nadal
enroute to a final-round meeting with Federer. Almost as high an overachiever
was the American Mardy Fish, who although unseeded won four matches, upsetting
Ljubicic and Ferrer, to reach the quarters.
Except for his recent back trouble, the player in best position to duplicate
Gonzalez's run of 2007 appeared to be Argentine star David Nalbandian. David,
like Gonzalez last year, is officially seeded just outside the first eight
(though our calculations place him inside). Other plausible overachievers, all
well outside the first eight, are Monaco, Stepanek, and Andreev. A fourth-round
meeting between Monaco and Federer looms. Andreev shows little recent success
but has reasonable fourth-round prospects against Murray.
The list of unseeded players contains several who seem underrated. A prime
prospect is teen-ager Juan del Potro. Also unseeded is Mardy Fish, who played
well at Hopman Cup last week, has a relatively favorable place in the draw, and
could conceivably repeat his overachievements of last year. Safin is also
unseeded, almost incredibly, but served warning by defeating Murray this week at
Kooyong. To be watched is Melbourne-born Chris Guccione, age 20 at height 6-7,
who in turn defeated Hewitt, Berdych, and Stepanek in reaching the final this
week at Sydney.
We next offer predictions for the four quarters of the draw. Players are
listed in order of official seed. Shown are raw scores Sc from our calculations.
PREDICTIONS: ROGER'S QUARTER
Federer Sc 6.37, Gonzalez 1.86, Blake 1.82, Berdych 2.04, Ljubicic 1.50,
Monaco 1.17, Verdasco 1.21, Almagro 1.18. Unseeded: Santoro 0.82, Guccione 0.38,
Isner 0.25. None of the above should seriously threaten the champion, whose
itinerary to the final four seems nicely designed to offer progressively more
dangerous opponents. Roger will probably meet Berdych in the fourth round and
last year's finalist Gonzalez in the quarters. It is not the easiest possible
draw for Roger but neither is it the most difficult. Federer should advance.
Djokovic 4.02, Ferrer 2.83, Nalbandian 2.59, Hewitt 1.79, Ferrero 1.44,
Baghdatis 1.54, Stepanek 1.23, Tursunov. Unseeded: del Potro 1.49, Safin 0.89.
Novak Djokovic should be safe through the third round, whereupon looms Baghdatis.
(Marcos defeated Gonzalez and Davydenko this week at Kooyong but must face
Safin in the second round at Melbourne Park.) Djokovic has the firepower to move
through either Baghadatis, Safin, or Hewitt, however, then to face either
Ferrer or Nalbandian in the quarters. The injury problems that limited Djokovic's
serving effectiveness in the Hopman Cup final suggest vulnerabilities here.
Only occasionally have I successfully overturned the verdict of the
calculations. In this case, however, if Nalbandian's back were not a question I would
confidently choose the Argentine star to triumph in this quarter. David would
then be a strong member of the final four, having defeated Federer twice in
late 2007. But the current auspices are not good, including evidence from MRI.
Thus the verdict of the computer shall stand, calling for Djokovic to claim his
place in the semis.
Davydenko 2.88, Gasquet 1.96, Murray 2.07, Youzhny 1.85, Chela 1.58,
Karlovic 1.22, Wawrinka 1.23, Andreev 0.63. Unseeded: Llodra 0.97. This is probably
the weakest quarter, and it contains many possibilities for surprises.
Karlovic's gigantic serve and Andreev's dominating forehand have occasionally produced
astonishing victories in the past. Gasquet's picture backhand and Youzhny's
solid determination also surely alert the favorite.
Among the top three, Murray is strong enough to prevail over higher-seeded
but up-and-down performers Gasquet and Davydenko. Andy shows a recent win over
Davydenko, at Doha last week, while Gasquet this week stumbled in Sydney. The
Russian reached the quarters in each of the last three years, but although the
evidence favoring Andy is thin, we here overrule the computations and choose
Murray as this quarter's representative in the semis.
THE QUARTER OF NADAL AND RODDICK
Nadal 4.30, Roddick 2.73, Robredo 1.74, Moya 1.50, Clement 0.68, Mathieu
1.25, Nieminen 1.24, Kohlschreiber 0.99. Unseeded: Fish 0.98, Calleri. Can Roddick
surmount Nadal despite the evidence of the computations? Roddick seems
certain to reach the quarters, while Nadal must surmount ever-difficult Carlos Moya
enroute. Nadal endured a long struggle with Moya at Chennai last week and then
stumbled against Youzhny. With Andy likely to be the fresher player and also
advantaged by the expected faster playing surface at Melbourne Park, we again
overrule the computer, here choosing Roddick to be the survivor of their
PREDICTION: FINAL FOUR
Roger's habitual success in the late stages of Slams should count heavily
against youthful Djokovic, reconfirming his straight-set verdict in the final of
U.S. Open 07. Opposing Roger in the final round will be Andy Roddick, the
likely semi-final winner over Murray. But there can be little question that Roger
will once again find a way to comfortably defeat the hard-serving American. It
will be Federer fourth Australian crown, three of them in succession, and yet
another important step to ultimate greatness.
THE WOMEN'S BIG THREE
Three female superstars, all former Australian Open champions, stand out as
the prime candidates to capture this year's crown. Last year, the three
together collected all four Slam titles as well as the year-ending championship. Two
of them exhibited major health problems at the end of 2007, however.
The highest place in women's tennis today belongs to Justine Henin, 25, who
remains apparently without health questions. Justine skipped Australia last
year but thereafter claimed two Slam crowns, the year-ending championship at
Madrid, and the year's overall #1 ranking. Smallish in stature, Justine's
athletic ability and footwork allow her to answer the power of larger opponents with
nearly equal velocity and with wondrous variety and control. Her stamina,
which sometimes weakened following an extended illness several years ago, appeared
satisfactory throughout 2007. Her mental strengths are already legend.
It may come as a surprise that Serena Williams, 26, amid seemingly endless
injury problems, has captured Australian Open three times in the last five
years. Unseeded at Melbourne Park last year after long spells of inactivity in 2005
and 2006, Serena appeared less overweight than before and showed little hint
of her long-standing knee/leg troubles. Early-on at Melbourne, there were
spells of lackluster play and excessive errors, but there were also runs of fierce
attacking tennis as Serena willed her way to six consecutive victories.
Throughout her final-round showdown against Maria Sharapova, Serena was the
ruthless warrior of old, relentlessly forcing play in administering a one-sided
defeat to the tournament favorite.
In now returning to Melbourne, Serena's talent and fighting spirit
unquestionably remain, but the injuries that marred much of 2007 leave questions. Her
anguished withdrawal during her first match at Madrid in November revealed that
the knee or leg was far from right. But she then played well at Hopman Cup to
start the New Year, looking strong and showing no physical problems in winning
two singles and three mixed-doubles matches without loss.
If she is at her best, Serena should be at least equal with Justine. The two
have evenly divided their twelve previous meetings, where the edge on nonclay
surfaces is clearly Serena's. They met four times in 2007, Justine winning
three including at U.S. Open.
Our third prime candidate is Venus Williams, 27, who missed Madrid in
November while undergoing tests for dizziness. Strong performances last
summer--wonderfully capturing Wimbledon and reaching the semis at U.S. Open--lifted her into
the year-end top eight for the first time since 2002. Venus has played Justine
only once in five years--in their semi-final at Flushing Meadow last summer,
when Justine won by score 76 64. Venus's readiness for Melbourne was indicated
by her success at the non-WTA tournament in Hong Kong last week. Venus won the
event, defeating Maria Sharapova in a straight-set final while showing full
power and accuracy.
No longer competing are two other former champions at Melbourne Park, both of
them prominent at last year's event. Kim Clijsters, who won in 2004 and was a
semifinalist last year, has now retired from competition at age 27. Meanwhile
three-time champion Martina Hingis has also retired in conjunction with being banned from the sport for
two years for cocaine use. The manner of her departure came as a dismal end to a career that
began with three Slam crowns as a 16-year-old. It was barely a year ago when I
chose Hingis runner-up to Federer as Player of the Year for 2006, recognizing
Martina's splendid return from early retirement.
Two other former champions will be on the scene, however. Lindsay Davenport,
31, returns after giving childbirth in 2007, having shown good success in
tournaments at the end of 2007 and early 2008. Meanwhile athletic Amelie Mauresmo,
28, who won the tournament two years ago, has been unable to attain her
former level since returning from early-2007 surgery for appendicitis. Both
Davenport and Mauresmo are unseeded owing to limited play in 2007.
Strong-hitting Maria Sharapova, still just 20, will be favored over any
opponent outside the big three. Unreliable serving troubled her often in 2007. The
problem improved at year's end indoors at Madrid, where she won four matches
against members of the world's top eight before losing to Henin in a close
split-set final. Given the year-end break which provided time to heal the injuries that
nearly kept Maria away from Madrid, Sharapova's power game seems ready to reach
maturity. She won twice at Hong Kong last week including over Chakvetadze before
losing to Venus. Her W-L record against the big three during 2007 was 1-4.
There is a substantial group of near-superstars, where each player at her
best is extremely close to the primes and Sharapova. Foremost are two from Serbia
and two from Russia--all of them top-eight finishers in 2007 and all age 22
Currently the strongest of the group seems to be Ana Ivanovic, now 20, who
showed a well-controlled power game and fine mobility in winning two round-robin
matches in Madrid. Almost co-equal is Anna Chakvetadze, 20, who climbed
upward throughout 2007 behind a delightful Hingis-like game based on movement and
stroking that seemed to gain in power as the year unfolded. Meanwhile Jelena
Jankovic, 22, finished the year higher ranked than either Anna or Ana but was
disappointing in late-year play, which included a loss to Davenport and three
losses in round-robin matches in Madrid. An injury in the hip area limited her
singles play at Hopman Cup last week.
Also aged 22 is Svetlana Kuznetsova, already a veteran as a top-five finisher
in three of the last four years but a three-match loser in the round-robin
phase at Madrid 07. She began the New Year with two fine wins at the Sydney
tune-up this week.
Two leading teen-agers are only slightly outside the above group. Nicole
Vaidisova, at 6-0 and age 18, is a strong-minded hard-hitter, a semi-finalist at
Melbourne last year and two years now in the world's second ten. Nicole
defeated Jankovic in a close three-setter this week at Sydney. Tatiana Golovin, born
in Moscow but of French tennis nationality, at 5-9 and age 19, is a stylist in
her overall play with excellent movement. At about the same level at age 20
is Jerusalem-born Shahar Peer, who won a set from eventual-champion Serena in
the quarter-finals last year.
Offered here are estimated odds for winning the Open.
Henin, odds 5-2
S. Williams and V. Williams, each 4-1
Ivanovich and Kuznetsova, each 25-1
Jankovic, Chakvetadze, and Davenport, each 40-1
Vaidisova and Dementieva, each 60-1
Mauresmo and Hantuchova, each 80-1
Golovin, Peer, and all others, 100-1 or longer.
PICKING THE OVERACHIEVERS
Aside from Serena, who was unseeded in winning the tournament last year, the
foremost unseeded overachiever was Lucie Safarova, then 19, who reached the
final eight after defeating seeded players Schiavone and Mauresmo. Who are the
entrants most likely to overachieve this year?
My suggestion will be to watch two prospective surprisers from China. That
nation's effort to develop talent has produced early success in doubles along
with an increasing presence in the late rounds of singles tournaments. Prominent
is Li Na, age 25, who reached the final sixteen at Melbourne last year and
who last week captured the tournament at Gold Coast. Peng Shuai, age 21 at
height 5-8, played in the Hong Kong tune-up last week, losing to Venus and beating
Ivanovic. Meanwhile, the list of young and rising players from Europe
continues to grow, now featuring Tamira Paszek of Austria, 17, unseeded at Melbourne
Park but a serious first-round problem for Jelena Jankovic. Viktoria Azarenka
of Belarus, 18, reached the final at Gold Coast, losing to Li in split sets.
Seeded, she represents the third-round opponent for Serena.
PREDICTIONS: JUSTINE'S QUARTER
This quarter is extremely potent, containing both Justine Henin and Maria
Sharapova. Maria's second-round opponent should be Lindsay Davenport, who is
probably the most dangerous unseeded player in the field and whose physical style
will prevent Maria from dominating with her own power. Maria should advance
but not far ahead will be a fourth-round meeting with Elena Dementieva--another
power ground-stroker whose performance in recent months has been on the
upswing. Maria's journey would become little easier if Elena stumbles enroute,
conceivably to Shahar Peer, an under-21 player singled out earlier.
The upper half of the quarter of course belongs to Justine, whose
fourth-round opponent should be Tatiana Golovin, another under-21 star. Justine should
prevail to reach the predestined quarter-final showdown with Sharapova, who
stretched Justine closely in the final at Madrid in November. It should be a
memorable, indeed historic struggle, where Henin will prevail if she is at her best.
For a change Serena has received a reasonably happy draw, for once promising
a path to the final four unbarred by Henin or sister Venus. Her quarter is
littered with strong and interesting possible opponents--the likes of Nicole
Vaidisova, Jelena Jankovic, and Amelie Mauresmo--but the reigning champion should be
comfortably favored over all these. Jankovic is seeded higher than Serena but
Jelena's recent results have not backed up this honor. Indeed, Jelena could
have serious trouble against first-round opponent Paszek.
Note that two of our three primes and also Sharapova are all in the top half
of the draw. The beneficiary of this imbalance is Venus Williams, whose big
game should be too much for Sania Mirza of India in the third round and either
Li Na or Marion Bartoli in the fourth. At the opposite end of the quarter is
Ana Ivanovic, who is correctly ranked much higher than her foremost obstacle
Dinara Safina. Venus defeated Ivanovic by comfortable scores at U.S. Open 07 and
should do so again in their attractive quarter-final match-up here.
THE RUSSIAN QUARTER
The two favorites here, at opposite ends of the quarter, are Russian stars
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze. Kuznetsova, whose results have
strengthened in recent weeks, should comfortably overcome fellow Russian player Nadia
Petrova to reach the quarter-finals. Meanwhile Chakvetadze, whose results
have slipped slightly, has the assignment of overcoming Daniela Hantuchova of
Slovak Republic, who recently withdrew from the Hong Kong event with abdominal
pain. In their expected quarter-final, Kuznetsova's relentless power should
overcome Chakvetadze. The sense is strong that a career revival may be at hand
That slender Justine can continue to dominate women's tennis in 2007 against
the potent and highly talented array in today's game almost defies logic. But
again and again Justine seems always to find a way to defeat larger and
stronger opponents. Can she summon the skill, the physical and athletic strengths,
and above all the mental weaponry needed to defeat first Serena in the semis
and then either Venus or Kuznetsova in the final?
We can expect to see soaring drama, tennis of the highest order, sporting
combat of historic quality amid the majesty of the impending match-ups. It would
not be surprising if all three matches among the final four are split-setters.
The margins of difference in the semis and final seem faint. In my
not-so-fearless opinion, in the semi-finals Venus will defeat Kuznetsova and Henin will
Looking to a final-round meeting between Justine and Venus, instinct compels
selecting the taller, stronger athlete--i.e., Venus. But until Justine's run
of success that began in summer 2007 is broken, she will remain my favorite to
prevail. It will be Justine's eighth Slam triumph.
THE TENNIS NATIONS
The run of the Russian women in scoring the most match wins at major
tournaments will probably continue. Last year the Russkayas, boosted by Sharapova's
six wins in reaching the singles final and the success of four others in
reaching the round of 16 (Chakvetadze, Zvonareva, Kuznetsova, and Dementieva), scored
more than twice as many match-wins as the second-place Americans (led by
singles-champion Serena). The presence this year of veteran Americans Venus
Williams and Lindsay Davenport, both of whom missed last year, should make the
running tally closer and more interesting. Serbia's strong twosome Ivanovic and
Jankovic should score well but not well enough to threaten the leaders.
Last year the American males led in the final tally behind six wins by the
Bryans in men's doubles along with good results in singles. (Roddick had five
singles wins, Fish four, Blake three.) A moderate drop-off in these totals is
conceivable this year, though there is also potential for improvement from Mike
Bryan in mixed doubles, Sam Querrey in singles. The men's contingent from
U.S.A. should again prevail.
Second-place France and third-place Spain could obtain greater contributions
from several members of their deep arrays, but last year's margin in favor of
the Americans appears too large (more than ten match-wins) to be overturned.
Last year, Australia and Czech Republic were fourth and fifth in the men's
tally, respectively, both showing excellent depth in doubles. Argentina and Russia
have apparent singles depth sufficient to rise into this group.
Here's wishing a great tournament to all watchers worldwide.
In here predicting the men's singles at Australian Open 08, recent predictor
events are weighted according to how closely their results over the past eight
years correlated with results at succeeding Australian Opens. Listed here are
the weights thus reached and now used here in the current prediction.
Australian Open 07, 9.8%
Indian Wells 07, 4.2%
Miami 07, 6.5%
Monte Carlo 07, 3.6%
Italy 07, 4.1%
Germany 07, 2.7%
Garros 07, 3.9%
Wimbledon 07, 8.0%
Canada 07, 6.4%
Cincinnati 07, 6.6%
U.S. Open 07, 11.8%
Madrid indoors 07, 9.1%
Paris indoors 07, 5.0%
Masters Cup 07, 15.7%
Australian tune-ups 08, 2.7%
In calculating the odds shown in the text, the raw scores Sc are calibrated
to Federer's even odds and further adjusted to reach an overall probability of