US Open Preview

Aug 30, 2010

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s late August and for a tennis fan that can only mean it’s US Open time. The last ‘Slam of the year, hosted by America’s most famous city in a time of transition. Back to school for the kids, Summer passing the torch to Autumn. In this time of transition, however, there is one constant. Every year at this time the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center springs to life for one last grandiose event of the season. One last event for someone to make history, to turn a good season into a great one or a bad season into a spark for next season. So, with the tournament only a few hours away, the questions on everyone’s minds are simple: who are the tournament favorites, who is most likely to be upset and of course, who will be the cinderella story. Well, without further ado, let’s get into those topics.

Starting with the men’s field, let’s delve into some of the favorites.

1. Rafael Nadal – Rafa will get another chance to tackle the only ‘Slam that has eluded him in his young career. Nadal comes in with a sparkling hardcourt record on the season, but he has had trouble finding his game in Toronto and Cincinnati. Is it possible Rafa is out of gas, much like he has been at the US Open in the past? Final prediction – Semis

2. Roger Federer – 5-time champion Roger Federer will look to become King of New York again after a stunning defeat last year. Federer comes in riding high, winning the Master’s Shield in Cincinnati for the second consecutive time. With new adviser/coach Paul Annacone, Fed looks sharp.  The only question is can he shake the mental demons that seem to plague him every now and then? Final prediction: Winner

3. Novak Djokovic – This has been quite the interesting season for Novak. He has one title early on and has stayed at #2 or #3 the entire season, despite not having any trademark wins. The breathing problems have returned for Novak, and his serve has been inconsistent at best. He also dropped a substantial amount of weight, causing him to lose power. Despite all of his problems, Novak is a model of consistency and is a favorite to win any tournament he enters. Final prediction – Quarters

4. Andy Murray – Murray is having another fantastic season, making it to the finals in Melbourne and winning the Master’s Shield in Toronto. Murray has employed some new, aggressive tactics at key points this year (mainly against Rafa), and it has paid off. Look for him to use his standard counter-puncher style in the first week. In the second week, however, look for him to show his newly founded aggression to help him make a deep run. Final prediction – Runner-up

5. Robin Soderling – After years of inconsistency, Soderling seems to have found his groove. Back-to-back finals at Roland Garros have cemented Soderling as a top 5 player and a threat at any tournament. Look for Robin to utilize that tremendous serve and big, open forehand to push him into the second week.  Final prediction - Quarters

7. Tomas Berdych – Much like Soderling, Berdych was a fringe player for most of his career. Everyone knew hw had the talent to be a top player, he just never had the consistency. Berdych seems to have found that consistency, making a run to the finals of Wimbledon. Look for Berdych to use that huge serve and powerful forehand to make a run. Final prediction – Quarters

9. Andy Roddick – A-Rod comes into the US Open a little shaken. He had a recent bout with mono that affected his game greatly. He did not have a good North American run at all, but the mono is supposedly behind him. Let’s see if Andy can recapture the only ‘Slam has won. Final prediction – Semis

Highest seed likely to make an early exit – #6 Nikolay Davydenko. Nikolay started off the season strong. He has been dealing with inconsistent play since February and has had his share of injuries. Potential early opponents include Richard Gasquet (2nd), Kevin Anderson or Thomaz Bellucci (3rd) and Gael Monfils (4th).

Unseeded player most likely to make a run – Richard Gasquet. Gasquet is a former top 10 player, but his career stalled last year due to a Cocaine situation. He was later cleared or any wrongdoing, returning just before the US Open last year. He has put together a pretty nice season, and it’s only a matter of time before he finds his rhythm.

Onto the ladies favored to win the title.

1. Caroline Wozniacki – Caroline has put together a superb season coming off her US Open final last year, winning four titles (including the last two she entered). She seems like the biggest beneficiary of Serena missing the tourney, taking the #1 seed. Final prediction – Winner

2. Kim Clijsters – The feel-good story of last year, Clijsters returns with the second seed in this year’s tournament. She has put together a fantastic season, amassing three titles. Final prediction – Semis

3. Venus Williams - Venus has put together a nice season, winning two titles. After her exit at Wimbledon, however, she found herself bitten by the injury bug. She hasn’t played since June but has to be among the favorites if she is 100%. Final prediction – Quarters

10. Victoria Azarenka – Azarenka has been bothered by a shoulder problem for quite sometime now, but it seems like the worst is behind her. She has played some pretty impressive tennis this summer, including a Bank of the West Claassic title where she beat Marion Bartoli, Sam Stosur and Maria Sharpova back-to-back-to-back. Final prediction – Finals

11. Svetlana Kuznetsova – Kuznetsova has had an up and down season, but she is playing well this summer, winning the Mercury Insurance Open and making it to the semis of the Rogers Cup. With this wide open field, look for this former US Open champ to make a run. Final prediction – Quarters

14. Maria Sharapova – Shaza is shaking off injury and serve troubles and has put together a fine season, winning two titles. She has made some good runs this summer, making the finals of the two events she entered. Final prediction – 4th round

Highest seed most likely to make an early exit – #4 Jelena Jankovic. Jelena has been struggling with back and and ankle injuries for awhile now and her play has been extremely inconsistent as a result. She hasn’t made it past the 4th round of an event since the French Open, and she has been losing to extremely low-ranked players. She has a relatively easy path to the second week, but don’t expect to see her make it there.

Unseeded player most likely to make a run – Melanie Oudin. Last year’s cinderella couldn’t build on that success, producing a rather mediocre season. Look for Oudin to rebound, however, due in large part to her favorable draw. A run to the 4th round is possible.

Overall, this tournament should be exciting to say the least. On the men’s side, Del Potro missing the tournament is a big loss, but the men’s game is so strong that by tournament’s end, you won’t even remember Del Po being injured. I believe Federer will step up and recapture the US Open crown on the heels of some strong play in recent tournaments and with the addition of Paul Annacone to his camp. On the women’s side, the draw is completely wide open with Serena being injured. 5-7 players could easily be considered the favorite. For me, the winner of the tournament will come from the Wozniacki-Sharapova 4th round match. Both women are having a great summer and seem to be poised for a US Open wins. Tennis fans, kick back and enjoy the tournament. It should be a good one.

Written by: Aiur

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