Originally Posted by veroniquem
Bull. Djoko would have beaten Fed more easily than Murray did and it wouldn't have affected his perf in the final. (Djoko has already won AO after beating Fed in the semi and Murray in the final in 2011). He also had Murray, Nadal back to back in 2012 and I can't think of any tougher combination (much tougher than Fed + Murray), although the other way around (Nadal first and Murray next) would no doubt be even worse. It doesn't matter what draw you throw at Djoko at AO, a bit like Rafa at RG although not for as long.
No. I think the OP is onto something. Whoever draws Ferrer is going to become the odds on heavy favorite to win until Rafa returns. Regardless of the surface.
Since we're dealing in hypotheticals, here is one to consider; had Novak in 5 sets beaten Tsonga in the quarters then Andy in 5 again in the semis, Novak would not be guaranteed a final win over Roger if Roger in his quarter and semi had coasted through a Ferrer and/or a Simon respectively in straights.
Rafa not playing gives whoever draws Ferrer a huge advantage.