Tuesday, September 1, 2009

US Open 2009 Preview

Not in the last few years has the men's field of grand slam tennis been so deep. You can pick a handful of players (or maybe more) who have a legitimate claim to the Championships at Flushing Meadows this year. Here's a preview of the top contenders (my pick for the 4 semi-finalists) and my predictions of the second week of the tourney.

Roger Federer

Roger is the No.1 seed and the de facto favorite to win the whole thing. It is hard to imagine that only earlier this year up till a couple months after the Australian Open, he seemed to have lost his mojo and was written of by almost everyone to win at the big stage again. Then came Roland Garros and a few lucky breaks (like no Nadal waiting for him at the finals) and he finds himself trying to win his third major in a row. What a turn of events for the 15 time Grand Slam Champion. He and many others must like his chances to pad up that Grand Slam count to untouchable realms (maybe it already is). His quarter in the draw should be no threat for him, with Davydenko or Sordeling being his potential Quarter Fianl opponent. And his Semi-Final opponent will come from Andy Roddick / Djokovic quarter of the draw.

Andy Murray

The No.2 seed this year is the Scott. He has had a good hard court season this year leading up to the US Open, bagging a couple of Masters' trophies en route. He was the runner-up last year, the finals no-show of 2008 probably being due to the first time finalist nervous jitters. But this year he seems to be ready for his big day. He should have smooth sailing through to his quarters, where he might have to face Del Potro or Giles Simon. And a potential Semi Final with Nadal. Murray is my pick to go all the way. But, he may have a few roadblocks to take care of to win the first major of his young career. This kid has what it takes.

Rafa Nadal

Rafa is trying to make his comeback after his rather long injury / rehab break due to his knee tendenitis. He is not yet up to the mark he would want to be, but I would never write him off. This guy is a warrior on court. It is never over till its over with him. If he manages to take the title this year, he would be the second player to complete the career grand slam in 2009 after Roger took the French earlier this year. How historic would that be? But it's a long way before we can think of that. He is the No.3 seed and has a bunch of dark horses in his quarter of the draw - Gasquet, Tsonga, Monfils to name a few. And has a potential semi-final matchup with Murray (who is my favorite to win the whole thing).

Andy Roddick

Roddick is the No. 5 seed this year. But he has a whole lot of momentum flowing with him while attempting to win his 2nd US Open title. His epic Wimbledon finals with Roger is still fresh in the minds of many of us. Never has a grand slam final loss been a good thing for a player before it happened to Andy. He took a lot from his valiant effort at Wimbledon and had a good efficient summer of tennis. If nothing else, he has become a better stronger player after the Wimbledon classic. He is in probably his best physical condition in a long time and has the ability to go deep this time at the US Open. His quarter of the draw has Djokovic, with a potential clash of the 2 in the quarters. If he and I would expect him to get through that, he would have a semi-final matchup with Roger. And wouldn't that be a potential classic; a rematch of their epic final weeks ago?

The above 4 are my picks to make it to the Semi's as of now. The dark horses in my opinion are:

Juan Martin Del Potro

Seeded No.6, this is the new kid on the block. He could be the Andy Murray of last year going deep into the 2nd week, ahead of schedule in his career. He has improved his serve and has tremendous upside to his already flashy game. His forehand is unreal and with a little adjustment can be the best in the game, which is a lot to say with so many big forehands already in the tennis circuit ala Roger, Gonza, Nadal etc. His biggest problem is his fitness, which has improved over the last year, but may not be good enough to last through two entire weeks of grand slam tennis. Moreover, he would have to beat Murray in the Quarters to go deep, which would be a tall ask, but is not out of his reach pending the fitness aspect.

Novak Djokovic

Novak has had a strong hard court summer, but not successful enough to be a threat at the Open. He will bring his usual solid game match after match, but I do not think he has that little extra to topple the other big guns. I do not expect him to come out of his quarter if he meets Roddick in the Quarter-Final as the seeding would draw them.

My Sleepers: Jo Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, Tommy Haas, Fernando Gonzales, James Blake

Quarter-Final Predictions

Quarter-Final 1: Roger Fedrer beats Mikhail Youzhny
Quarter-Final 2: Andy Roddick beats Novak Djokovic
Quarter-Final 3: Rafa Nadal beats Fernando Gonazales
Quarter-Final 4: Andy Murray beats Juan Martin Del Potro

Will update or write up a new post come semi-finals time.

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