I hate predicting the outcome of a Grand Slam draw, but I think knowing your way around it makes the entire tournament more enjoyable – more meaningful, even.
More after the jump…
The shortcut version: Federer and Djokovic are in the same half.
Still feel like exploring? Come with me on a stroll through the boulevards and byways of the U.S. Open men’s singles draw:
RAFA’S QUARTER (yep, he’s at the top of the draw, now!):
Rafa could take on Oliver Rochus in the 2nd round and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the 3rd. We’re looking at him facing Berdych, Querrey or Karlovic in the Round of 16 – any of these guys could put up some resistance to the Rafa steamroll.
The bottom half of Nadal’s section includes James Blake, who could meet Mathieu or Fish in the 3rd round and Gael Monfils in the 16s.
Likely Quarterfinal: Rafa vs. Monfils (I think Blake will have a Beijing hangover.)
FERRER’S QUARTER (or MURRAY’S or JUAN MARTIN del POTRO’s):
I’m calling this Ferrer’s quarter because he’s the 4th seed and I can’t pick who the real favorite is between Andy Murray and JMdP. Gilles Simon or Stan Wawrinka aren’t bad picks, either, in this talent-packed section of the draw.
Murray may be favored to reach the quarters, but he’ll likely have a tough road: Llodra in the 2nd round, Feliciano Lopez in the 3rd and then Wawrinka or Youzhny in the the 16s.
JMdP doesn’t have it easy, either, especially if he’s on the downside of his summer peak: fellow countrymen Canas and Acasuso in the 1st and 2nd rounds, respectively, fellow U.S. Open Series Sensation, Gilles Simon, in the 3rd, and maybe Ferrer or Isner in the 16s.
Likely Quarterfinal: del Potro vs. Murray in a “Yo’ Mama” smackdown. Yippee!
This could also be called the BIG DOG quarter, with Marat Safin, Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (whoo hoo!), Fernando Gonzalez, and Carlos Moya all vying for alpha status. Oh, and let’s not forget the lovable Fabrice Santoro, who meets Roddick in an entertaining 1st round match up (will Andy be Santoroed?).
I don’t think Jo-Dub will be ready to go deep, but I’m still looking forward to a possible Moya vs. Tsonga 2nd round matchup, with the winner playing Safin in the 3rd (if the Russian gets by Tommy Robredo.)
Novak should be waiting for Marat, Moya or Tsonga in a blockbuster round of 16, assuming he beats Clement in his 1st round, Mahut in the 2nd and possibly Ginepri or Cilic in the 3rd.
Andy Roddick hardly has an easy route (does he ever?) with Gulbis (a popular insider’s pick) in the 2nd, Lee in the 3rd, and Keifer or Gonzo in the 16s.
Likely Quarterfinal: It could be anything from Gulbis vs. Safin to Gonzo vs. Tsonga, but I’m going to play it vanilla and go with Djokovic vs. Roddick.
Oh, here he is! I almost forgot about Roger, all the way down in the bottom half of the draw. Can we assume that Fed’s the favorite here? Can we, please? His biggest threats are Stepanek in a scary 3rd round and then the winner of Verdasco vs. Andreev in the 16s.
In the other half of Roger’s quarter, we have a gem of a first round match: Tommy Haas vs. Richard Gasquet, or what I call “the hexed vs. the headcase.” I’d say the winner of this is the favorite through to the quarters, with Janko Tipsarevic the only credible threat if he’s injury free.
Likely Quarterfinals: Federer (?) vs. Haas (?) This section scares me for some reason. Maybe because I totally forgot that Nikolay Davydenko is in it.
I’LL TOUR THE WOMEN’S DRAW TOMORROW (“Say what?” version: the Williams sisters could meet in the Quarters)