Thursday, August 26, 2010

Storylines at the US Open

The US Open is only a couple of days away and for some, it has already started with the qualifying tournament currently underway. The draws for the big show were held today and aired live on ESPN2. Defending champion Kim Clijsters was on hand to help out. Haven't had time to pore over them myself, but I'll do a more extensive analysis on how the draws fell this weekend. For now let's look at some of the storylines to watch out for.

- Can Clijsters continue her unbeaten run in Flushing Meadows? Clijsters is riding a 14-match win streak at the US Open, winning in 2005 and not playing until last year which she also won. Her current form got her a title in Cincinnati and through to the quarterfinals in Montreal, but she's slightly injured. Still New York is a special place for her and she is definitely the favorite.

- Will we get the first Federer-Nadal final at the US Open? Well, they are in opposite ends of the draw for the bazillionth time so if they are going to meet, it will be in the finals. Top seed Rafael Nadal has never done particularly well here, but he has reached the semifinals two years in a row including last year where he obviously had physical issues. His showing in Cincinnati and Toronto these past few weeks were okay, but not great. After winning the French Open this year, he told reporters "See you in New York," so he wants this bad to complete a career Grand Slam. Last year's finalist and this year's second seed, Roger Federer wants it bad, too. Very strong showing at Cincinnati (champion) and Toronto (finalist) indicate he's the man to beat yet again.

- Can the Andys step it up? It seems every year, every Grand Slam tournament not played on a clay court, someone is touting Andy Murray's chances. And why not? He is probably the best hardcourt player in the men's game right now and while he went on a post-Australian Open funk, he is still one of the favorites. And speaking of favorites, this is the home of Andy Roddick's one and only Slam. Other than Wimbledon, this is the place to recapture that glory.

- Other than Clijsters, who is the woman to watch? With Serena Williams withdrawing due to a foot laceration, everyoneis feeling just a little bit better about possibly winning this year. Top seed and US Open Series winner Caroline Wozniacki was last year's finalist and if she's not winded from playing so much tennis, she's a real danger. Others who have done well during the US Open Series include former champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Vera Zvonareva. Even though she hasn't played since Wimbledon, you could also never discount former champion and third seed Venus Williams.

- And what about the men? Dangerous floaters include Mardy Fish, Marcos Baghdatis, and David Nalbandian who had great showings at the US Open Series. It's also hard to discount former finalist Novak Djokovic (if the weather cooperates), hard-hitting Robin Soderling, and Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych. Sadly, defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro is not in the draw as he is still recovering from an injury he sustained earlier in the year.

- Will there be any upsets and/or crazy results at the US Open? It's New York. Most definitely.

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