The 2012 US Open begins on Monday here in Queens, New York, and there are so many story lines surrounding the men’s side of the tournament. The obvious storyline is which tennis giant is not there. Rafael Nadal is going to miss the tournament with a left knee injury. (link) This leaves a whole side of the draw wide open for a non-top 3 player to make the semifinals.
When you talk favorites for this tournament, you have to start with the big three. Roger Federer is coming off of a great tournament in Cincinnati where he convincingly beat Novak Djokovic. Fed won Wimbledon as well and also reached the Gold Medal match at the Olympics, before losing to Andy Murray. He is back to #1 in the world and will look to win his sixth US Open title this year, his first since 2008.
Speaking of Murray, he is on a great high, in terms of confidence, after beating Federer in the Gold Medal match in the 2012 London Olympics. It was Murray’s first significant tournament win against the top three, after beating Djokovic in the semifinals. The problem is Murray has not had much match play since that win. He withdrew from Toronto and then lost to Jeremy Chardy in Cincy. Plus, he will have to get through both Federer and Djokovic, most likely, to win. However, the Scot has had some of his best moments in New York, reaching the US Open final in 2008.
Djokovic won the Australian Open earlier this year and will look to defend his US Open crown from last year over this fortnight. He is very consistent in this tournament, reaching the semis every year since 2006. But, ever since the French Open, we have not seen the dominant Novak that we saw a year ago.
Who is going to be the player who comes out of the wide open part of the draw? The two likely contenders are David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic. Ferrer is the definition of consistency, since he has reached at least the quarterfinals in all three majors this year. I like his chances the best to get out of that section. Tipsarevic has had a great year, but he had a tough loss to John Isner at the Olympics and his temperament can get the better of him at times. However, neither of these players are my pick to get out of that section.
Before I make my predictions, let’s take a look at what the American fans will be watching over the next two weeks. Which American has the best chance to give the New York fans some great entertainment? We know one thing: It is probably not going to be Donald Young. He has had some great promise, but has lost 20+ straight matches in a row and now has to play Federer in round one. Good luck!
John Isner is the highest-seeded American in the field. The concerns with Isner are that he struggles to break serve unless it’s in a tiebreak, and that he has a back injury, which caused him to pull out of Cincy. The marathon man has a chance to duplicate his quarterfinal run this year with a favorable draw until potentially facing Ferrer in the quarterfinals. Plus, you have to like his chances after beating Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in the semifinal and then saving three match points against Tomas Berdych in the final of the Winston-Salem Open.
Some other Americans I like are Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. Fish had a great run last year, losing to Tsonga in five sets in the fourth round. But Fish has a tough draw, which includes a potential meeting with Federer in the fourth round this year. As for Querrey, the he has improved by leaps and bounds since overcoming numerous injuries. He lost a tough match to Marin Cilic during Wimbledon 17-15 in the fifth set. However, he has some confidence going into the tournament after reaching the semifinals of the Winston-Salem Open, where he lost to Berdych. He could potentially face Berdych again in the third round of this Slam.
I bet you guys are wondering why I am not including Andy Roddick. Well, Roddick could face Bernard Tomic in the second round. Tomic is one of the best young players in the game and Andy has been very inconsistent in majors. He will be 30 years old on Thursday and if you get to him early, he is unlikely to make a comeback (4-11 when losing the first set in 2012). Andy won’t even make it to the weekend!
Now, for my predictions:
Semifinals: Federer over Murray, Del Potro over Isner
– Yes, I went with the upset here on one side of the draw. I have explained my prediction on Isner, but I really like the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro. DelPo has a tough first-round match against David Nalbandian, a veteran who can make you grind a tough match out. That is not exactly the best formula for DelPo’s wrist.
However, he knows he can beat the top players. Obviously, people remember his win over Federer in the final of the 2009 US Open. He crushed Nadal in straight sets in that same tournament. Recently, he beat Djokovic in the Bronze Medal Match of the 2012 London Olympics, after losing a 19-17 third set to Fed in the semifinals. If his wrist is healthy, I think Juan Martin can ruin the monotony of the top three breezing through this Slam.
Final: Federer over Del Potro in four sets
Roger Federer is peaking at the right time and New York is one of his favorite places to play. He won the Wimbledon title this year and the draw is not that difficult for him leading into the potential Andy Murray semifinal. Even though Murray beat him at the Olympics, Fed seems to always win these revenge matches. Deep down, Fed is looking for vindication after the five-set loss to the Argentine in 2009, one in which he had a two sets to one lead. He gets it three years later!