Breaking down the brackets

1/20/2007 - Tennis


By Matt Wilansky and Keith Hawkins, ESPN
Because rain postponed two matches in both the men's and women's draws, the round of 16 hasn't been completely filled. As for those players who have advanced, the names are quite familiar.

Nine of the top 10 seeds in both fields survived the first week. The most notable absentee in the men's draw is fourth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, who was upset by a rejuvenated Mardy Fish in the first round. For the women, No. 5 Nadia Petrova lost in three sets to an unseeded Serena Williams -- which isn't a huge upset considering Williams won this event two years ago.

With one week in the books, here's a look at what's in store for Week 2.

In addition to Ljubicic, No. 11 Marcos Baghdatis, last year's runner-up, was knocked off in the second round, opening the door for either No. 18 Richard Gasquet or No. 7 Tommy Robredo. The winner advances to the quarterfinals where defending champion Roger Federer likely will be waiting.

The Swiss, though, faces Novak Djokovic, the 19-year old Serbian prodigy (Sun., 3:30 am ET, ESPN). When the draw was released, Federer-Djokovic was one of the most eagerly awaited matchups. Djokovic -- the highest-ranked teenager on the ATP Tour at No. 15 -- took a set off of Federer last season in Monte Carlo.

Fish will try and continue his strong run against No. 16 David Ferrer, one of three Spaniards remaining in the field. While Ferrer had to come back from two sets down to beat Radek Stepanek in the third round, Fish advanced when Wayne Arthurs retired after just three games. The winner of this match will face either No. 9 Mario Ancic or No. 6 Andy Roddick. Ancic is 0-4 lifetime against Roddick, who clearly is excelling under the guidance of coach Jimmy Connors.

"One thing we've learned is that Jimmy Connors can coach," ESPN analyst Luke Jensen said from Melbourne. "Connors put together a game plan that Andy believes in and can execute. I like what I have seen from Connors and Roddick on the practice court, because when a player and his coach work well together in practice, that usually translates to success in matches."

No. 2 Rafael Nadal and fifth-seeded James Blake are a win away from meeting in the quarterfinals, although both have tough fourth-round opponents. Nadal gets 19-year-old Andy Murray, who has yet to drop a set, and Blake will face No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez.

"James Blake is for real," said Jensen. "We know he has a huge game, but he's never been past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam and he's never won a five-set match. There have always been a lot of what-ifs attached to Blake.

"But this is a different player in Australia and you can see it in his body language." Blake also has yet to drop a set in the first three rounds.

The other half of the bottom bracket has yet to be complete. No. 8 David Nalbandian awaits the winner of the Florian Mayer-Tommy Haas match and No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko gets either Tomas Berdych or Dmitry Tursunov.

"Watch out for Berdych" said Jensen. "He's like a diet Roger Federer, loaded with talent and has a big game from baseline. The question with Berdych, though, has always been between the ears."

After nearly being eliminated in the first round, top-seeded Maria Sharapova has dropped a total of seven games in her last two matches and will face fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round.

"Sharapova is here to play," said Jensen. "She easily could have gotten frustrated after blowing a 5-0 third-set lead in the first round against Camille Pin. In the end, the difference between the elite players and the rest of field is elite players find a way to win. That match will be talked about forever because Sharapova easily could have packed it in."

Zvonareva, once a top-10 player, already has more wins in this tournament than she did last year in the four Grand Slams combined.

"I didn't get tested at all in the first three matches. I saved all my energy. I think that's a good thing to take with me into the second week."
-- -- Kim Clijsters

No. 4 Kim Clijsters and sixth-seeded Martina Hingis could meet in the quarterfinals for the second straight year if they win their fourth-round matches. (Their opponents have yet to be determined since weather postponed two matches: Daniela Hantuchova vs. Ashley Harkleroad and Dinara Safina and Li Na.)

Clijsters has won three sets at love and has dropped all of nine games through three rounds.

"I'm very happy we're going into the second week," said Clijsters. "This is what you do it for. This is where it all starts from. There's no better feeling than knowing all the work you do in the off-season pays off. … I didn't get tested at all in the first three matches. I saved all my energy. I think that's a good thing to take with me into the second week."

If there were any doubters, Serena Williams announced she's back after her comeback win against Petrova in the third round. Williams looked out of sorts and much slower than her Russian opponent in the first set, but stormed back to win in three.

"Serena is a warrior who loves to compete, but she hasn't taken it so seriously and still isn't in the best of shape," Jensen said. "But when I saw Serena knock off the fifth-seeded Petrova, you could see just how good she is. Petrova is very talented, yet Serena still has enough talent to be a dangerous player in the second week."

However, it's not going to get any easier in the fourth round, where red-hot Serb Jelena Jankovic is eagerly waiting. Entering the Australian Open, Jankovic won a title in Auckland and was runner-up in Sydney the following week.

Sixteenth-seeded Shahar Peer will take on No. 3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 2004 U.S. Open champion, Kuznetsova has lost a total of 10 games through the first three rounds. Peer -- who is coming off a tough three-set win over Tatiana Golovin -- has never advanced to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.

The most competitive match could be between No. 7 Elena Dementieva and 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova. After being tested in the first round, the 10th-seeded Vaidisova has cruised. The winner is likely to face defending champion, Amelie Mauresmo, who has a date with teenager Lucie Safarova.

-- ESPN.com wire services contributed to this report.