Sunday, 28 August 2011

ATP US Open Preview

Novak Djokovic headlines the final major of the year, which begins in Flushing Meadows on Monday. Djokovic is joined by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Robin Soderling, Mardy Fish and Gael Monfils as the top eight seeds. Here is my analysis of the draw, which I have split into four sections...

Novak Djokovic opens up against the Irish qualifier, Connor Niland and has a pretty straight forward start to his quest to win his first ever US Open. His first seeded opponent is Ivan Dodig in the third round; Dodig has a difficult opener with Nikolay Davydenko so could be an early seeded casualty. Djokovic could then play Richard Gasquet in the 4th round. Gasquet has been very consistent this year, but has already lost to Djokovic twice this year; I don't see things changing here.

Djokovic is projected to meet Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals. Monfils has one of the toughest openers against Grigor Dimitrov. I would expect Monfils to progress; his next major challenge could come in round four where he should meet either Tomas Berdych or Janko Tipsarevic, who are scheduled to meet in the third round. Tipsy won their previous encounter in Montreal but Berdych hit some hot form in Cincy before retiring hurt. I'm going to back the consistent Berdych to come through this section and meet Djokovic in the Quarters. Djokovic did pull out of the Cincy final with an injury but I have no doubt that a weeks break will have him fighting fit once again.

QF prediction - Djokovic v Berdych
Dark Horse for this section - Albert Montanes/Kei Nishikori
Round 1 highlights - Davydenko v Dodig, Granollers v Malisse and Dimitrov v Malisse

Djokovic is looking to claim his fourth Grand Slam title

Roger Federer is the number three seed and will play Santiago Giraldo in round 1. Federer suffered disappointing exits in both Monteal and Cincy and has been handed a difficult draw for the US. Federer should progress through the early rounds with ease; he will most likely face the winner of an exciting 1st round clash between Marin Cilic and Ryan Harrison. In the 4th round, I would predict that his opponent would be Radek Stepanek, who took the title in Washington. In the Quarters, Federer could play the in-form Mardy Fish or his current nemesis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Mardy Fish has a tough draw as he opens up his campaign against Tobias Kamke. In the third round he is projected to meet Michael Llodra; however I think he could face the big serving Kevin Anderson who took out Andy Murray in Montreal. In the 4th round, Fish could meet Tsonga in what could be a cracker of a match. Tsonga has a easy draw up till this point with Fernando Verdasco his first seeded test. Verdasco did push Nadal in Cincy but shows little belief these days that he can compete with the big guys. If Tsonga and Fish do clash, i'm going for Fish to come out on top.

QF Prediction - Federer v Fish
Dark Horse for this section - Kevin Anderson
Round 1 highlights - Harrison v Cilic and Stepanek v Kohlschreiber

Tsonga suffered an early exit in Cincy and will hope to fully fit for the US

The number 3 seed, Andy Murray will play Somdev Devvarman in the first round as he bids for his first major. Murray's first seeded opposition is Feliciano Lopez in the third round before a potential rematch with Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Murray in last year's Open. This time round, I will be backing Murray who has shown a gradual return to form over the summer with an excellent win in Cincy, albeit in strange circumstances with Djokovic pulling out of the final.

The top half of section 3 is one of the most interesting areas of the draw. Robin Soderling is the highest seed, but has been out injured for many weeks now. His draw is also tough so I am predicting he will not live up to his seeding. Alex Bogomolov could wait in round 2 and the Winstom-Salem champion, John Isner in round 3 who has shown signs that he is once again ready to threaten the big names. I believe Isner will come through this encounter where he could play the winner of Juan Martin Del Potro and Giles Simon. Del Potro has looked sluggish and lacking form this Summer but i'm going to back him to make the Quarters in this section as he returns to Flushing Meadows for the first time since winning back in 2009.

QF Prediction - Del Potro v Murray
Dark horse for this section - John Isner
Round 1 highlights - Baghdatis v Isner and Tursunov v Darcis

Del Potro seems to be tiring after a long season on the tour but will hope to cause sparks at this years US

Rafael Nadal will begin his title defence against Andrey Golubev. Nadal has been in disappointing form during the summer but should play himself into the quarter finals without too many difficulties. His first test could be between the winner of a potential second round clash between Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian. In the 4th round, Mikhail Youzhny could await for a rematch of last years semi-final. Look out for an early exit for Jurgen Melzer; i'm going for Igor Kunitysn to knock Melzer out in round 2.

The top section is headlined by David Ferrer who has a tough draw to contend with. He opens against Igor Andreev and could then play James Blake in round 2, who has a 2-0 winning head-to-head record. Florian Mayer is Ferrer's projected first seeded opponent but is likely to be another early casualty based on his recent form. Andy Roddick, who produced some good performances to reach the semis of the ATP Winstom Salem tournament is projected to meet Nicolas Almagro in the third round, in what should be a close encounter. The winner is likely to meet Ferrer with the winner playing Nadal in the quarters... i'll stick by Ferrer.

QF Prediction - Ferrer v Nadal
Dark horse for this section - Andy Roddick
Round 1 Highlights - Ferrer v Andreev, Benneteau v Almagro and Youzhny v Gulbis

Roddick has been a downward trend since that heartbreaking loss in the Wimbledon final in 2009

So who will win? Well i'm going with the form book because I do not see either Federer or Nadal winning this. Nadal was very rusty in Cincy, and i know he can spring into form when grand slam time comes around; however I still don't think he holds a chance against Djokovic. Djokovic is my tip for the title with Murray coming close once again yet falling at the last hurdle...

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