There are some fabulous matches in the 1st round that are screaming for potential upsets. Here are the matches I'll be watching.
Feliciano Lopez vs Alejandro Falla - 2 Spanish speaking lefties. One from Spain and the other from Columbia. If ranking means anything, (31 vs. 103) Lopez should win, but he has had so many first round losses that this match makes me nervous (Armada fan).
David Nalbandian vs Lleyton Hewitt - This will be a battle to the death. They've met 5 times and Hewitt leads the head-to-head 3-2, but Nalbandian won the most recent match-up in Sydney 7-6, 7-5. Today, Nalbandian was a finalist at the Heineken Open, and Hewitt won at the Kooyong Classic. I expect it to be a 5 setter with Hewitt pulling it out with the help of the hometown crowd.
Jarkko Neminen vs David Ferrer - They've only met once in a challenger back in 2001, with Neminen winning 6-4, 6-0. Ferrer just hoisted the trophy today at the Heineken Open and Neminen had to retire in the first round at Syndey due to pain in his knees. Ferrer should be able to pull this out if he isn't weary from his run in Auckland.
Ryan Harrison vs Adrian Mannarino - The Great American Hope has probably the easiest draw of all the American Men. He made it to the 2nd round of the US Open after qualifying, but this year he has a ticket to straight to the main event. If he can play his best tennis, I think he'll make it at least to the 2nd round here.
Julien Benneteau vs Juan Monaco - They've never met, and both just lost their 1st round matches in Sydney and Auckland respectively. The problem: Although Pico was on the comeback trail in 2010, he can be unpredictable at times. I really want to see him through to the 2nd round. Fingers crossed.
Thiemo De Bakker vs Gael Monfils - They've met 3 times, and Monfils has the edge 2:1. The problem: Monfils just lost to Hewitt in the Kooyong Classic Final and sustained a back injury in the process. If he can keep his focus on his game and not entertaining the crowd and hurting himself again, he will win.
Mardy Fish vs Victor Hanescu - Mardy had a Great 2010, reaching a career high of 16 and lifting the US Davis Cup team out of relegation. Recently he played in Brisbane but fell in the 2nd round to Stepanek. Hanescu, currently ranked 50, has a giant serve. He recently played in Auckland, losing in the 2nd round to Almagro. They've never met, and Mardy should have the edge, but my gut says this match might get tricky.
Philipp Petzschner vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - After an injury plagued 2010 Jo-Willy says that he is hungry and determined, but because of little match play in the past several months, this could be an upset. (Sad-face)
Dudi Sela vs Juan Martin del Potro - They've played 3 times with Delpo leading 2:1 but they haven't played since 2008. No expectations, but would love Delpo to win this one.
Other matches that will be good, but I don't have time to write about:
Dustin Brown vs Albert Montanes
Ernests Gulbis vs Benjamin Becker
Michael Llodra vs Juan Ignacio Chela