Sunday, August 30, 2009

US Open: Men's Preview

Four-time defending champion Roger Federer is the obvious frontrunner. He will seek to add to his already record tally of 15 Grand Slam titles. He has made 21 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and the draw before him makes it likely that he will extend this amazing streak. He has an intriguing match with former US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt in the third round. Federer will then face Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko, or more likely 2009 US Open Series winner, Sam Querrey, in the quarterfinals.

Fourth seed Novak Djokovic has had a very uneven year and he's been sort of pushed to the tennis sidelines by bigger stories this year. As a former finalist, however, he knows how to go deep in New York. He may have to get through a tricky first round with Ivan Ljubicic and fourth round with Radek Stepanek and then may get severely tested by fifth seed Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. Roddick has defeated Djokovic the last three times they've met and with the New York crowd squarely behind him, he will actually be favored in their match-up. Other names lurking in Djokovic's quarter are Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Haas.

On the bottom half of the draw, Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is seeded third for the first time in nearly four years. He had his best showing last year reaching the semifinals and if he wins this tournament, he will complete the career Grand Slam. It won't be a cakewalk though. He will immediately get tested in the first round by a rustier Richard Gasquet trying to make a comeback himself. If he gets past the Frenchman, he may face David Ferrer or Gael Monfils in the fourth round. Possible opponents in the quarterfinals include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, and Fernando Gonzalez. How will playing best-of-5 affect Nadal's knees?

Finally, 2008 US Open finalist and newly world no. 2 Andy Murray will try to get his first slam. He has been the best hardcourt player this season winning a few Master Series titles including the Rogers Cup a few weeks ago. He has come up short, however, in the three previous slams this year, but this tournament will be played in his favored surface. He has a tough draw going up against a quality player in Ernest Gulbis in the first round and then most likely Ivo Karlovic in the third round. After that it just doesn't get any easier with Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic awaiting him in the fourth round and then most likely in-form 6th seed Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. Other names of note in this quarter are retiring players Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro, but with top opponents ahead in the early rounds their swan songs will probably be quite short.

Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick
Juan Martin Del Potro d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Roger Federer d. Juan Martin Del Potro

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