Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Contenders

I could do a proper draw analysis for the US Open - who my picks are for each quarter, yada yada yada. But truth is, I don't know if there's too much point at the moment. It seems to me right now that there are four, possibly five, leading contenders for the title - and it might better befit us to analyse them than how they'll get there.

Starting at the top, the man himself, Roger Federer. He's won New York five times in a row and he's looking for number six, and - yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to do a fullblown draw analysis - he has a pretty friendly draw, with some of his longtime bunnies being the major seeds in the area. That said, everyone at this level is a danger, so I don't think RF is going to be complacent.

Complacency is the popular thought at the moment for what might stop Roger - he's done so much and now has babies on board... surely he can afford to rest on his laurels a bit? But this is not Roger's style - I can't think of anyone less complacent in the world. I think Roger's going to be just fine in New York, and if I were going to make a pick - which I'm not, because I'm pretty sure it's a jinx - Roger would be it.

The one man I think has a real, genuine shot at stopping Roger before the finals is Andy Roddick. The quarter final match up between him and Djokovic is probably going to be the best quarter match up of the lot, and I don't see Novak coming out alive (he was my mystery fifth man contender). Roddick has whipped Djokovic good the last few times I remember them meeting, and I would not be at all surprised to see him cruise into the semis with the loss of a very small amount of sets. I would claim that he has played better tennis this year than ever before in his life - he was very unlucky not to walk away with Wimbledon, where it took the greatest of all time to beat him. Federer/Roddick is my semi pick on this side, with Federer the victor - but I think Roddick is going to impress again.

Then we have the other side. Everyone's talking about Rafa's knees - that said, I would be very surprised not to see him make the semis on grit and talent alone. He has the added bonus of being fresh and being slightly under the radar, which we know he likes. I would kill to see another Murray/Nadal semi after the spectacular matches these two have put up. This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest rivalries in the sport at the moment, and it's not talked about nearly enough. I think their games match up in a really interesting way. Watching them play is always intriguing and I'm picking Nadal to come through the third quarter, purely in the hopes of seeing this match...

...because I'm definitely picking Murray to come through on that side. I'm not a massive Murray fan, but I like what I've seen from him this US Open series. He's bringing some good stuff on court - the only questionable element might be his fitness, which has let him down a bit in the past - but unless it gets super hot, I think he'll be fine. He wants a Slam to validate him, and he's going to be pulling out the stops.

But we all know which team I'm on in the end, and on which side I'm coming down, even if I can't say for fear of divine retribution.

On the women's side, I don't think there's any point doing any analyses at all, with the... ahem, interesting state of the tour. You'd put good money on a Williams to win it, but only because they come to the party at Slams and everyone else is running rather mojo-less at the moment. I would really love someone random to win this tournament - possibly one of the three great Slamless top ten girls, Safina, Dementieva and Jankovic. Or one of the comeback queens, like Clijsters or Sharapova. Or even an up and comer, like Wozniacki or Lisicki (though not Azarenka, on account of I find her irritating and I am biased that way). The challenge I'm throwing down to the women this week is this - surprise me. I want at least one match where I am genuinely impressed and I want someone to win the damn tournament, not just not lose seven matches. Savvy, ladies?

Today's Results

Pilot Pen Tennis (New Haven)

Men's Draw

Fernando Verdasco def. Sam Querrey, 6-4 7-6 (8-6)

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