U.S. Open Preview

Nadal’s Quarter
Winner: It would be insane to bet against Nadal even if his injury is still lingering on. Jo-willy Tsonga could step up and beat him in a potential quarterfinal match, but the problem is will he get there? He can go out and beat any of the top players on any given day (Fed in Canada) but he could also lose to anybody on any given day (Isner and Guccione).
Dark Horse: Watch out for Jeremy Chardy to take out Gael Monfils in the first round. Chardy has come inot his own, while Monfils continues to struggle with injuries. David Ferrer could also potentially beat Rafael Nadal based on well he played Federer in Cincy, but he had a phantom retire against Rafa earlier in the summer.
Early Exit: Gael Monfils has his hands full with Jeremy Chardy and all of his injuries. 32 seed Nicolas Almagro could very well lose in his first match, but that’s not that big of an upset considering he’s a clay-courter. If he manages to win his first match look for Robby Ginepri to dispose of him in the second. Tomas Berdych is the ultimate wild card. Who knows if he’ll play well or poorly – this guy could appear on the early exits and/or dark horse list every tournament – it’s just a question of his motivation and his fitness.
Best potential match: Berdych vs. Gonzalez – interesting match considering Berdych has won the last three meetings, but it’s Gonzo who lives for majors. Gonzalez vs. Tsonga – If you like to see thunderous ground strokes and some of the hardest hit forehands you’ll ever see in your life – this is the match for you. Nadal vs. Gasquet – it’s not too often I put a first round match here, but this match is just so intriguing no matter how you look at it. Whether it’s Nadal’s storyline (first major since losing his “King of Clay” title) or Gasquet’s (first match back on the tour since his alleged cocaine use.)

Murray’s Quarter
Winner: Andy Murray is poised for another date with Federer and history – he’s been dominant on the hard courts all year long, but Juan Martin del Potro poses a legitimate threat to his chances to go back to the final.
Dark Horse: Look for the Gooch to take full advantage of Mardy Fish’s withdrawal by getting to the third round of the open. Also look out for 6″10 Ivo Karlovic to cause havoc in the draw, while the 5″9 American Jesse Levine, standing more than one foot shorter, very well could take out Marin Cilic in the second round. Cilic has not impressed me this summer, he hits lollipops, which just doesn’t get the job done against top competition.
Early Exit: Marin Cilic as discussed above has not looked great since setting foot on the American hard courts.
Best potential match: Andy Murray vs. Juan Martin del Potro – This should definitely happen, it’ll be very interesting to see if del Potro can forget about his performance in Montreal against Murray where DP looked as if he was going to die on the court. Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Andy Murray – can Wawrinka possibly create as much drama as their last encounter at Wimbledon – a five-set marathon that was the first ever match played under the new roof?

Djokovic’s Quarter
Winner: Even though Novak Djokovic added Todd Martin to his team, I think it will take some time to pay off. He’s lost to Andy Roddick three times this year – all on hard courts, so Roddick will have the major psychological advantage. If that’s not enough he will also have a raucous US crowd behind him. A crowd that may get on the Djoker’s case even more because of what happened last year when Djokovic talked trash after beating Roddick.

Dark Horse: John Isner has played well lately, but drawing Roddick in third round should definitely end his run. Tommy Haas has the potential to make it to the round of 16, but this section of the draw should be straight forward – a Djokovic-Roddick clash coming in the quarters.
Early Exit: Radek Stepanek has looked injured most of the summer season. He will potentially play Leonard Mayer in the second round. The 22-year-old Argentine had two great tournaments this summer at L.A. and New Haven, while Stepanek has barely even played. #28 Victor Hanescu should also go down in round one to John Isner, but this isn’t much of an upset at all.
Best potential match: Djokovic vs. Roddick – This would be a mouth-watering night quarterfinal match for the New York crowd. Can the Djoker turn the worm, or will Roddick continue his stellar season? Tommy Haas vs. Fernando Verdasco – Both players have had their moments in grand slams this year, but both have fallen back to the pack the last month or so. It’ll be especially interesting to see how the winner plays against Roddick considering the winner may have to be on the court for a very long time to win this one.

Federer’s Quarterfedchamp
Winner: Roger Federer period. He’s a lock to make the semifinals of a grand slam with 21 consecutive appearances doing exactly that. He’s the Joe Dimaggio of tennis. That streak is just uncanny, and on top of that, his draw looks ripe for the taking. Fed absolutely owns every seed in his section. He’s 12-0 against Davydenko, 11-0 against Soderling, 8-0 against Robredo, 9-1 against Blake, and has won 13 in a row against Hewitt.
Dark Horse: Anyone I put here is a huge dark horse, and I mean a gargantuan-sized dark horse. I’ll go with the U.S. Open Series winner Sam Querrey. All the veterans in the draw don’t have the belief since they’ve been beaten to a pulp by Fed, but maybe Querrey is just young enough to not think about the pressure. Maybe his 3-1 record against top 10 players in the summer will give him confidence. Another potential dark horse is that crazy Mikhail Youzhny guy. You remember him, the guy that battered his head with his racket opening up a gash like he was a boxer in a match he actually won? Youzhny lives for the hard courts and may potentially be able to move through to the round of 16.
Early Exit: Paul-Henri Mathieu’s seeded 26 and I feel this is an easy call. He just can’t meet expectations. He has the self-proclaimed worst time with staying hot, which is why he says he enters so many tournaments, so don’t expect him to perform well when it matters most, especially because he’s a bit of a head case too. Watch out for Tommy Robredo going down early too. It’s no secret the U.S. hard courts are his least favorite place to play, and he will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round, a man who actually put together a great run at Cincinnati.
Best potential match: Hewitt vs. Federer – will Lleyton be able to at least take one set from Rog and force a little bit of pressure on the five-time defending champ? Soderling vs. Querrey – Soderling’s play has dropped, while Querrey’s play has risen.

Semifinals: Andy Roddick vs. Roger Federer – Roddick’s struggles against Federer have been well documented and will continue. A-Rod drops his 20th match to Fed in four sets. Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray – the other Andy defeats Nadal for the second straight year in the semifinals at the open.

Final: Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray – Federer takes down Murray in straights for the second consecutive year. Federer just has too much for Murray in grand slams at this point in their careers, and most importantly, he KNOWS he will win it. On the other side, Murray just thinks he might be able to win, and he KNOWS Federer is the best of all time. Look for a dominant performance out of Federer all tournament long. The only player who may be able to challenge him is the new Andy Roddick, but will Roddick really have the belief that he can beat Fed after losing to him 19 times including their epic match at Wimby? I just don’t see it. Rog get #16!

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