Wow, can you believe it’s US Open time, already? Me neither, but it’s happening whether we’re ready or not. I wonder if the players are as mentally unprepared?
So let’s take a quick gander at the draws, before the tournament (or Hurricane Irene) starts and spoils everything.
2011 US OPEN MEN’S DRAW
Maria Djokovic via Daily Mail
FIRST QUARTER: That’s Mr. Nole to you
Novak Djokovic, bum shoulder or not, is destined to dominate this quarter. A qualifier in the first round, names I barely recognize in the second round (no, Dodig‘s not’ til the third round, unless it’s Davydenko) and an odd assortment of under/overachievers in the round of 16 (Dr. Ivo, Gasquet, Gonzalez, Nishikori, Stakhovsky, etc. etc.) make this a bit of a stroll in Flushing Meadows.The quarter final possibilities look more exciting, with Berdych and Monfils in the mix, but the only guy to beat him this year on his side of the draw is possible semifinal opponent Roger Federer. (We’re getting to that. . .I hope!)
Tasty early round match-ups: Fernando Gonzalez vs. Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dmitrov vs. Gael Monfils in the first round
Food for thought (via TIME):
“He has a fire in his eyes like Nadal,” says Janko Tipsarevic, the 20th-ranked player in the world and a fellow Serb. “And he might not be as smooth as Roger, but he’s close.”
“I like to laugh my ass out,” says Djokovic.
And via the NYTimes (a must-read about Nole’s efforts to amp up his fame and fortune – 40 business meetings in the past week!):
“Of course, the world is looking at me differently,” Djokovic said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m pretending that I’m modest, but I don’t really consider myself a star, or something like that.”
“Our job is also to show the world, to show the United States, that there is a new No. 1 in the world,” Goran Djokovic [Novak’s uncle and chief marketing strategist] said, leaning forward Tuesday in the lobby of the Mondrian Hotel in Manhattan. “We have to adjust everything, what we are doing now. But let’s say we are preparing for that all our life.”
Photo of Federer and Fish practicing by Andrew Ong/usopen.org
SECOND QUARTER: How ’bout we NOT screw this up, Rog?
It’s pointless trying to predict Roger’s chances, here. It’s just one big pile of anything could happen – at least if you’re a paranoid Roger fan like I am. Yes, I quiver at Thomaz Bellucci in the second round, and wring my hands at the up-and-comer grab bag of Harrison, Tomic or even sad sack Cilic in the third. It’s not a lack of faith, it’s just my duty as a Fedophile! The fourth round sees a brief reprieve with seeds Stepanek and Troicki as possible opponents (or Haas, or Monaco) and then we hit bloody hangnail territory with two-time-Fed-killer-this-season Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the mix for the quarters (somehow Mardy Fish doesn’t inspire fear and dread in my Fed-lovin’ heart, but I could live to rue the day.)
Tasty first round match-ups: Ryan Harrison vs. Marin Cilic and Radek Stepanek vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Food for thought (via NYtimes):
The morning after his upset loss to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the Western and Southern Open, Roger Federer reserved a practice court for more than two hours. In heat so oppressive the spectators in the stands were sweating through their shirts, Federer took one ball after another and methodically — almost maniacally — practiced his serve.
Photo by: Don Starr/usopen.org
THIRD QUARTER: Five rounds of “meh.”
Every draw has that section that no one (meaning me) cares about all that much. Hey, I wish John Isner the best of luck, and I certainly have nothing against Juan Martin Del Potro (okay, I’m lying) but am I really going to get my panties in a bunch about, say, a Soderling vs. Murray quarterfinal? I’ll leave that sensation to Andy and his temperamental compression shorts.
Food for thought from Cliff Drysdale at ESPN:
“Andy Murray, his story to me, look, he’s in the top four, but he’s number four out of four. If the other three guys are playing at the level they have been playing, then he’s going to stay at number four. . .
I was very disappointed with (Murray) in the semifinal of Wimbledon because he looked, relatively speaking, like a second class player. When we were watching that match, I said, It’s going to be a while. In his game, there are some mechanical things that need addressing. The top four or five players have got a game that is as solid as a rock. In my opinion, his forehand side is a very big weakness. Until he corrects that, just from a mechanical standpoint, I don’t think he’s going to be able to make a move unless he gets some luck with the draw.”
First round worth watching: Baghdatis vs. Isner.
Photo via Just Jared
FOURTH QUARTER: Rafa, the Unknown Story
With the book tour, Letterman appearance, Armani Jeans promotions, kids’ tennis clinics and draw duties, Rafa’s been hitting the pavement hard this week in NYC. He may be a little frazzled going into his title defense in Queens, but the draw gives him plenty of time to settle in. He’s got Golubev in the first round and maybe Mahut in the second. Ivan Ljubicic is his seeded third round and to continue the blast-to-the-past theme, Mikhail Youzhny is his seeded fourth round. Andy Roddick (seeded a lowly 21) and David Ferrer are the big-ish boys lined up for the quarterfinals. Yeah, I think the only thing bothering Rafa in the early rounds is imagining Djokovic in the final.
Not that he’d ever admit it (Rafa via NYTimes): “Today my rival is every day my opponent and myself, too, because I have to do well in every tournament in every match.”
Tasty first rounds: Ferrer vs. Andreev, Gulbis vs. Youzhny
Okay, I’m going to be completely uncreative and pick Novak Djokovic for the US Open title. Does anyone want to talk me out of it?
It’s getting late – I’ll take the women’s draw up soon.