Tuesday, August 30, 2011

US Open Preview

Note: My power was out due to Hurricane Irene so this is being posted about two days too late, with some first round matches already having been played. No changes to what I wrote were made.

Earthquake. Hurricane. It has certainly been an exciting few days here in the East Coast, but that's just the preamble to the excitement that awaits tennis fans at this year's US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is going into the Open unsure of his form, but he should get through to the second week with ease. He might be tested early in the third round by either 30th seed Ivan Ljubicic or unseeded David Nalbandian, but I highly doubt it. 16th seed Mikhail Youzhny and 17th seed Jurgen Melzer should also pose little problems. Fifth seed David Ferrer is probably Nadal's biggest challenge in the quarterfinals, but 21st seed and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick and unseeded James Blake are also in this section.

In the same side of the draw as Nadal, Andy Murray is only one of a few players on a win streak heading into the Open after winning Cincinnati. His first biggest test would be 14th seed Stan Wawrinka in the 4th round. He then could meet 6th seed Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals, but the Swede has struggled of late. Most likely, Murray could meet 12th seed Gilles Simon or 18th seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

Leading the other side of the draw, top seed Novak Djokovic has already won two Grand Slam tournaments this year. Losing only twice this year, he will be very difficult to beat despite his lack of form in Cincinnati where he was forced to withdraw. Toughest test for him would be 13th seed Richard Gasquet in the 4th round then 7th seed Gael Monfils or 9th seed Tomas Berdych in the quarters.

Five-time champion Roger Federer looks to recapture his mojo, but it won't be easy. Dangerous opponent Tomas Belluci awaits in the second round with young up-and-comers Bernard Tomic or Ryan Harrison in the third. Then, 15th seed Victor Troicki and 23rd seed Radek Stepanek lurk in the fourth round. Finally tough trio of 8th seed and US Open Series champion Mardy Fish, 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (beat Federer two times in a row), and 19th seed Fernando Verdasco are potential quarterfinal opponents. Good thing he only has to take on one of those players.

N. Djokovic d. T. Berdych
R. Federer d. M Fish
A. Murray d J.M. Del Potro
R. Nadal d. D. Ferrer

N. Djokovic d. R. Federer
R. Nadal d. A. Murray

N. Djokovic d. R. Nadal

Defending champion Kim Clijsters withdrew before the tournament began due to injury, but all that means is that 3-time US Open champion Serena Williams has one less player to get through before possibly lifting the trophy once again. Seeded 28th due to injury and lack of play, Serena can meet 4th seed Victoria Azarenka in the third round. Whoever wins this feels like could be the finalist in this side of the draw, but they have to get through two French Open champions, 16th seed Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round and 7th seed Francesca Schiavone in the quarters. Former US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic also lurks in the quarters.

In the same side, top seed Caroline Wozniacki looks to finally win her first major. If on form, which is not at all a given, Wozniacki should easily reach the fourth round where she can face 15th seed and former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova or 21st seed Daniela Hantuchova. Sixth seed and this year's French Open champion Na Li, who hasn't been playing well recently but always brings her A-game to slams, and 10th seed Andrea Petkovic are her potential quarterfinal match-ups.

Also seeking her first Slam title, second seed Vera Zvonareva has a very good draw on the other side and should have little trouble until the fourth round with a possible face-off against 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova, 22nd seed Sabine Lisicki, or an unseeded Venus Williams. Grand Slam finalists 8th Marion Bartoli and 9th seed Samantha Stosur are her potential quarterfinal opponents.

Third seed Maria Sharapova, who has shown great form this summer, could have a tricky third round match with 26th seed Flavia Pennetta or unseeded Melanie Oudin. Her serve is key to her reaching the latter stages of the tournament. Wimbledon champion and 5th seed Petra Kvitova in the quarters will be Sharapova's toughest test. 12th seed Agnieska Radwanska (who is unfortunately playing against her sister in the first round!) and 20th seed Yanina Wickmayer are also in this section.

N. Li d. C. Wozniacki
S. Williams d. J. Jankovic
V. Zvonareva d. S. Stosur
M. Sharapova d. P. Kvitova

S. Williams d. N. Li
M. Sharapova d. V. Zvonareva

S. Williams d. M. Sharapova

FINAL WORD: The one person I don't want to win on the men's side is the one person I'm predicting to win, but his record this year speaks for itself. And even if he doesn't win, I don't see anyone out of the top 4 winning it. As for the women, predicting Serena is pretty much default seeing as how I honestly can't see anyone else winning it. Then again, Serena can crash out in the 2nd or 3rd round and I wouldn't be that surprised.

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