If the top half of the draw is cupcakes, then the bottom half is... what's something that's really difficult to eat? Something so full of chilli and spices that you can barely swallow without choking. Vindaloo. Or maybe haggis or tripe. We have eight dudes left in this section and there's only one who I don't think has a chance at the final.
That dude is Ryan Harrison, who prevailed over Milos Raonic. This is not to say that this was not a fantastic win for him, because, hello, it was. (Sidebar - I can't believe we're talking about beating Raonic as a major victory. Wasn't he nobody like five seconds ago?) But despite this, I don't think he's up to playing with the big boys quite yet. Soon, but not yet.
The biggest boys are, of course, Federer and Djokovic, who will play a tantalising semi final if it comes to it (and oh, oh, OH would it be sweet if Federer were to break that Djokovic streak! That would not be haggis AT ALL), but there are many obstacles in the way before then. With the exception of Harrison, every other dude in this half is a contender.
Let's have a look, shall we? (Sorry, no guest blogger today - dudes in this half do not have the cupcake-y luxury that Rafa is currently enjoying.) Aside from Federer and Djokovic, we have two other top ten players in Berdych and Roddick. I wouldn't be putting my money on other of these dudes, but they are more than capable of making it to the final if things go their way. I wouldn't say either of them is in their bestest form ever at the moment, but you make it to the final eight in this half, then you have a little something going on. You are probably not... a cupcake. You are meaty. You are weighty. You stick to the ribs. And you're not going down easy. You are like vindaloo. Vindaloo made with haggis.
Just outside the top ten we have Stan Wawrinka, and if you saw what he did to Andy Roddick at the Australian Open, you know just how much Stanley is capable of. Of course, he could just as easily be totally flat, but if Stan is on... well, he's made a Masters final before, that's all I'm saying.
And then you have Troicki. While I would rather eat eight family size portions of haggis vindaloo than see him make the final, it's not outside the realms of possibility.
And then, perhaps most interestingly, you have Gasquet. I thought about including him with Harrison, because I think it would be very unlikely for him to come through to the final here. Reeshie is not a dude who does well with haggis vindaloo - though, ironically, it might be better for him to be in this tough side than off eating cupcakes, because sometimes I think he's allergic to them. Playing a hot chilli dude lets Richou know that he has to come out and play well. If he's playing a cupcake, he can get all over confident, all 'oh yeah man, I love cupcakes!' and before you know it he's lost and you're cleaning up the puke.
So yes, I think Gasquet has a tiny chance of making the final. He's got Safin-esque levels of inconsistency, but as far as pure talent goes, he's in my top ten. And sometimes, that pure talent can get you places - like a fluke tournament run. And if Ivan Ljubicic can win this title, then anything can happen.
This is definitely the more intriguing half of the draw. There are no byes here. While the other side is possibly the most predictable since tennis began - Juan Martin del Potro is the only possible dud cupcake over there, the only one who could mess up Rafa's parade - this side is anyone's. Except Harrison's. He's not quite haggis vindaloo yet. Sometimes the draw gods work in very, very mysterious ways.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago