With the U.S. Open Series heading into week four, the big guns will finally grace us with appearances on consecutive weeks in Toronto and Cincinnati. We’ve already seen a resurgent, lighter Mardy Fish take the inaugural Atlanta title, Sam Querrey defend his title in his home tournament at UCLA and finally David Nalbandian take 500 points and about a 70 ranking spot increase at Washington. The question is: who will win with everybody in action this week?
Winner: It would be insane to bet against Nadal. The man is supremely talented and even more supremely focused in his goal of winning the U.S. Open for the first time. This tournament will give us the first look at a healthy and rested Nadal on the hardcourts when seemingly every other threat is struggling. Juan Martin del Potro may not make it back to the Open, Federer has lost his swagger, Murray has taken a step back and seemed disinterested in non-majors, going only 11-8 in such events and Djokovic looks as if he maxed out in 2008.
Dark Horse: Watch out for Sam Querrey. The American is currently ranked inside the top 20 and has played great tennis on the hardcourts. He defended his title in L.A. with less than perfect performances until he finally dispatched the Murray plague that had done him in the four previous meetings. Querrey willed himself to victory even when he didn’t have his best stuff – the mark of a true champion. Don’t be surprised if he really challenges Nadal in the Round of 16. Another potential true dark horse in this quarter would be Janko Tipsarevic. He’s played some excellent tennis in North America so far, throttling Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey along the way.
Early Exit: It seems like the Roddick-Cilic part of the draw will provide the quarter with the early exit. Andy Roddick played absolutely lethargic in his loss against Gilles Simon – a man he should never in a million years lose to – and he’s even getting medical tests before the tournament. Who knows where his head will be, but the good news is that he keeps a bye for one last week before he drops out of the top 10. It’s the first time ever there are no Americans in the top 10 of the ATP rankings. If that’s not enough incentive for Roddick to play his best, he will also have the added bonus of a chance to get payback on Yen-Hsun Lu for his unbelievable Wimbledon upset of Roddick in his first match. Another possible early exit I could see happening is Marin Cilic only because he played a bunch of matches in the grueling humidity in Washington D.C. The good news for Roddick and Cilic is one has to get to the quarters – or do they?
Best potential match: Nadal vs. Querrey – The entire world will get the chance to see if the Southern California boy is for real. Continue reading