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US Open Blog-Part I: Draw Preview

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Hello All,

I'm Thnksfrthegg, those who know me call me Eggy, or Beans (long story) those who don't tend to smash random letters into their keyboard and assume it's close enough. I'm a member of URPG and unfortunately that's about it.

Anyway, to the topic matter, I've decided to run a blog throughout the US (Tennis) Open, starting from now, during the Qualifying stages, and ending in a couple of weeks. I've been a massive tennis fan, following all the tour-level tournaments on the ATP World Tour as well as a fair few of the Challengers and even the odd Future for the past year. Thus, I consider myself to be relatively knowledgeable when it comes to Tennis.

So, for those of you who didn't know, the US Open main draw was released yesterday, with a few spaces still left for those who win a few matches in the Qualifying Tournament. In this installation I'm going to talk about the main contenders, the remainder of the Top 8 seeds and a few possible surprises.

Top Eight Seeds

The 1st Seed and highest ranked player at Flushing Meadows is Novak Djokovic, World Number One as well as this year's Indian Wells, Miami, Rome and Wimbledon Champion as well as the French Open finalist. The bookies are definitely in favour of him winning, odds going as high as 50%. As of late, since his Wimbledon triumph and his wedding, he has been playing sub-par, falling out of the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters in the Third Round. Djokovic's draw is also tough, with a potential fourth-round meeting with World Number 15 and home favourite John Isner, followed by a quarter-final that could feature either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, his Toronto conquerer, or an in-form Andy Murray. Djokovic's is going to get his act together if he wants to win in New York but it's easily possible if he shows us the standard that he exhibited for the first half of 2014.

Roger Federer is Second Seed, following Rafael Nadal's withdrawal, having started 2014 rejuvenated, featuring in the Wimbledon and Monte-Carlo finals and winning titles in Dubai and Halle. Since Wimbledon he has been playing incredibly well, reaching both the Toronto and Cincinnati finals and winning the latter. He is the third-favourite for the bookies, slightly behind Andy Murray (although that was before the draw was announced). His draw is quite challenging, featuring the big-serving Ivo Karlovic as a potential third-round opponent, the violently unpredictable Fabio Fognini in the fourth and a possible quarter-final meeting with Grigor Dimitrov, tennis' rising star. However, compared to Djokovic's side it is not too bad and the record-breaking former Number One should reach the finals in most estimations, and most certainly has a realistic shot at the title.

Third seed is Stanislas Wawrinka, the perplexing Australian Open and Monte-Carlo champion. Wawrinka's form has swung like a pendulum all season, going from his maiden grand-slam to a series of underwhelming performances, to success at the Monte-Carlo Masters. I would rule Wawrinka out of any competing chances, although it is fair to bear in mind that last year he reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, so it's worth keeping him in mind for potential success, given his stellar record against Top 10 opponents this year, if he reaches the latter stages.

David Ferrer, the energy bunny, takes up the last of the top four seeds, coming to Flushing Meadows with his usual drive. Although not the best player on the Tour he is most certainly one of the most dedicated, playing in far more tournaments than most Top 10 opponents to maintain his ranking and flying around the world to do so. Although I would not consider Ferrer a favourite for the title I would not be surprised if he advanced to the Quarter-finals, facing only the threat of Marin Cilic on the way.

Fifth seed is the Canadian giant Milos Raonic, one of the Tour's Young Guns he comes to New York after a successful Wimbledon semi-final run and consistent performances throughout the year. Raonic's most difficult opponent coming through to the quarters will be fellow Young Gun Kei Nishikori, who, although not in his best forming coming into the US Open, having withdrawn from Toronto and Cincinnati, the rest of his quarter of the draw is relatively sparse of good seeds, short of Wawrinka, who could easily be upset before he gets to meet Raonic. A semi-final showing from Raonic would not be surprising here, and maybe even a place in the final.

Tomas Berdych takes up sixth seed, having come through a relatively mediocre season. Consistently reaching the middle-rounds of most tournaments but rarely reaching the finals (a notable exception being in Rotterdam where he won his first title since 2012), I would not tip Berdych for a great contender for the title, although, if Ferrer, with whom he shares his quarter, is knocked out a semi-final performance would not be inconceivable.

Grigor Dimitrov, a player called the Beckham of tennis and even Baby Federer, is seventh seed, having shot up the rankings in a career-defining 2014. Dimitrov is definitely destined for greatness, having won titles in Acapulco, Queen's Club and Bucharest on three different surfaces he has shown himself to be a talented young player. After a semi-final showing at Wimbledon a good performance at Flushing Meadows would not be surprising, although it would mean battling past Federer, which, in his form, would be difficult.

Rounding out the Top Eight seeds is 2012 titlist Andy Murray, returning to the tour after back surgery last year, his season has shown a consistent quarter-final showing in most tournaments and his ranking has dropped considerably after some shaky form in the beginning of the season. His potential, however, showed through in the French Open, and again in Toronto, where he was the only player to take a set off Tsonga on his incredible title run. If Djokovic is off-par I could imagine Murray beating him in the quarters, in which case a title in Flushing Meadows would not be the out of the question. If he is to win the US Open, however, Murray has to master his own mind, which seems to calm down a little too much when he's doing well.

Other Potential Surprises

Ernests Gulbis is one of many young players on the verge of getting a permanent place in the Top 10. After a semi-final performance at Roland Garros he has shown his potential as a Grand Slam competitor. His draw is also quite easy, with a fourth-round match-up potentially against Berdych, one of his French Open victims, a quarter-final showing would not be out of the question.

Tenth seed is Kei Nishikori, the first Asian man in the Top Ten in Open Era, another of the tour's Young Guns, he has given us enough upsets to suspect a potential for greatness and maybe even forming the next Big Four with Dimitrov, Raonic and Gulbis. A long run in New York is unlikely, however, as he has a fourth-round meeting scheduled with Raonic, who, in his current form, would probably beat Nishikori. A good showing is still possible, however, and I would keep Kei Nishikori in my sights.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's title run in Toronto, defeating four Top Ten players, was the biggest surprise of the year, after a lacklustre season and his decline predicted suddenly he's rocketed back into the Top Ten for the first time since late 2013. With a tough draw ahead of Murray and Djokovic, it may seem unlikely, but it's worth bearing in mind that only three weeks ago he beat both men in a row, so this fiery Frenchman is not to be underestimated.

Hope you enjoyed this rather long read, please leave comments and recommendations. Once the qualifying stages I'll be posting my own predictions for the draw, thank you for reading and have a nice day!!

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