Sunday, 26 August 2012

ATP US Open: Preview and Predictions

Roger Federer
FIRST QUARTER - R.Federer v T.Berdych
Roger Federer opens up his US Open campaign against Donald Young, which will grace the first evening session on Arthur Ashe this year.  Young went on an incredible 17-match losing streak before finally recording a win in Winston Salem last week.  The Swiss world number one has a relatively routine opening to the tournament with his projected route including Fernando Verdasco in the third round and then Mardy Fish in round four.  Fish has enjoyed a very solid hard court season, but beating Federer in a best of five set match would be a real surprise.

Tomas Berdych has struggled through the last couple of months although he did manage to reach the final of Winston Salem last week where he lost in a tight three-set final to John Isner.  Berdych has one of the trickiest openers against the young Belgian, David GoffinSam Querrey could then pose another test in round three; Berdych did in fact beat Querrey in the semi-finals of Winston Salem and I think the American may have burnt himself out over the last couple of weeks.  

Prediction - Federer v Berdych

1st round highlights - Federer/Young, Fish/Soeda, Russell/Simon, Almagro/Stepanek, Goffin/Berdych

Dark horses - Jack Sock and Tomas Berdych

SECOND QUARTER - A.Murray v J.W.Tsonga
Andy Murray
Andy Murray will go into the US Open with brand new optimism that this is his time to win his first Grand Slam; despite early exits in Canada and Cincy, he is still riding the high of winning the Olympics after beating Roger Federer in the final.  Murray has been handed a tough draw at Flushing Meadows.  Alex Bogomolov Jr. will be his first round opponent before sterner tests in round three with Feliciano Lopez and then potentially, Milos Raonic in the 4th round.  Raonic beat Murray in Barcelona, but the Canadian has yet to prove himself over best of five set matches at the Grand Slams.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is Murray's projected quarter-final opponent.  The Frenchman opens up against the qualifier Karol Beck and could then meet fellow compatriot, Jeremy Chardy in the third round.  Chardy managed to nick the final seeding spot through an impressive run in Toronto and Cincy, which included a victory over Tsonga in Canada.  I think this time round Tsonga would be too strong over five sets.  Tsonga's fourth round opponent is likely to come from an intriguing section involving Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.

Prediction - Murray v Tsonga

1st round highlights - Haase/Lopez, Giraldo/Raonic, Chardy/Volandri

Dark horses - Marin Cilic

John Isner
THIRD QUARTER - J.Tipsarevic v D.Ferrer
Janko Tipsarevic plays Guillermo Rufin in the first round before a much tougher test is likely to face in the second round against either Jan Hajek or Brian Baker.  Baker had terrific runs at Nice and Wimbledon and despite a lapse in form over the last month, I think the home crowd could pull him through an upset over Tipsy in round two.  John Isner is also in this section and looks to have a great chance to bag a deep run in the draw following a superb week in Winston Salem with two top ten wins.  He opens up against Xavier Malisse and is projected to meet to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.

David Ferrer has earnt himself the number 4 ranking by virtue of Rafael Nadal's withdrawal.  He will play the big serving Kevin Anderson in round one before Mikhail Youzhny looms in the third round.  Lleyton Hewitt is in this section and has already beaten Youzhny on the hard courts this summer so he should be able to win a few rounds here.  This quarter definitely holds prospects for a number of players to have a deep run and Richard Gasquet and Tommy Haas are two names destined to be in the mix for the quarter-finals.  The pair could meet in the third round if they can overcome their first two rounds; Gasquet may have to get past Jurgen Melzer in the second round, meanwhile Haas has drawn the irratic Ernests Gulbis in the first round.

Prediction - Isner v Ferrer

1st round highlights - Kohlschreiber/Llodra, Dimitrov/Paire, Malisse/Isner, Gulbis/Haas, Youzhny/Muller and Anderson/Ferrer

Dark Horses - Viktor Troicki and John Isner

FOURTH QUARTER - J.M.Del Potro v N.Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Many people have earmarked Juan Martin Del Potro as a significant threat to the big three this week although the Argentine has a tough draw.  He opens up with the juiciest of the first rounders against fellow Argentine and resident bad boy on the ATP tour, David Nalbandian.  An Olympic rematch could be in order with Andreas Seppi in the third round and then a fourth round match, assuming he gets that far, against either Andy Roddick or Juan Monaco.  Roddick has looked less than convincing recently and a second round match with Bernard Tomic beckons if both win their openers.

Novak Djokovic begins the defence of his title against Paolo Lorenzi and will be confident with his draw of reaching yet another US Open final.  Julien Benneteau and Alexandr Dolgopolov are the two highest seeds in Djokovic's section although watch out for Cincy semi-finalist, Stan Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis, who could meet Dolgopolov in the second round.

Prediction - Del Potro v Djokovic

1st round highlights - Del Potro/Nalbandian, Roddick/Williams, Benneteau/Rochus

Dark Horses - Stanislas Wawrinka

Final Prediction - Andy Murray d. Novak Djokovic
Before I had even looked the draw, I had decided that I would be going for Murray to win the US Open.  I think his triumph at the Olympics will have been monumental for his confidence and I am not at all worried by his early exit in Cincy... come on Andy!

You can view my full predictions for the US Open mens draw HERE

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