We've done the ladies, time for the gents. Away!
Rafa's quarter: It's weird to see Rafa in this spot and Roger in the #128, even though Rafa deserves it - I've just become accustomed to looking to the top for the Roginator. But nonetheless, here we are. And here Rafa is. And even though he took some not-so-awesome losses in Toronto and Cincy, you'd be a moron to pick against him.
The big challenge to Rafa in this quarter, the way I see it, is Nalbandian. I love that Nalby/Nadal match up and I am hanging out for that quarterfinal, because it would rock my socks off. Whether or not Daveed can keep in the best of health, on the other hand, is another matter - but he's not one of the top favourites for this event for nothing. And if anyone in this quarter can shock Rafa, it's Nalbandian. (That said, if Teimuraz Gabashvili takes a set from Rafa in the first round, I won't be surprised - he has game.)
I'd like to say Gulbis could make something happen here, but I don't think it's going to happen. I'm not expecting anything from Fernando Verdasco, who has been resoundingly meh of late. If I'm looking for super dark horses, I am looking to Ukraine - hello there, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. What have you got for me?
Winner: Rafael Nadal
If not him, then: David Nalbandian
Dark horse(s): Sergiy Stakhovsky (or maybe Denis Istomin or Jeremy Chardy)
First round matches to watch: Nadal/Gabashvili, Stakhovsky/Luczak, Chardy/Gulbis
Muzz's quarter: This is the quarter of players on whom Jodi is not too keen, with Murray, Stepanek and Berdych all ensconced therein. However, Andrey Golubev is in there too and I love him, so it's not all bad. (As well as some dude named Jack Sock. I like him just for his name.)
Considering Murray won the US Open series, I'm not going to pick against him here, but I'd be lying if I said I had a Murray feeling. I just can't see an adequate challenger. I don't see Berdych beating him, and guys who could legitimately trouble him, like Stan Wawrinka and John Isner, are just not in great form. But it's America, and so you never know what Querrey might do - and we mustn't forget that Mikhail Youzhny has been deep at this tournament before and is perfectly capable of doing it again. Actually, if anyone is going to overthrow the over-jawed Scot, it is the Headbanger.
Oh, and there's always Yen-hsun Lu to worry about...
Winner: Andy Murray
If not him, then: Mikhail Youzhny
Dark horse(s): Yen-hsun Lu and Andrey Golubev
First round matches to watch: Starace/Almagro, Youznhy/Golubev, Stepanek/Benneteau
Bert's quarter: This quarter is the one where a surprise semi-finalist would most likely come from, given how unimpressive Novak has been of late. If he was in better form, I would say it presented the perfect opportunity for Nikolay Davydenko. As it is, it might still be the perfect opportunity.
But this is a tough quarter. You're never going to count Andy Roddick out here, and you never know what Gael Monfils might pull. And then there's Mardy Fish, who has been playing some great stuff. And Marcos Baghdatis! The names just keep on coming.
Actually, you know what? I am going out on a mega limb here. I am going to pick Gael Monfils to win this quarter, on grounds no stronger than 'I have some kind of feeling' about him. Whether or not this is the 'upset in the first round' feeling remains to be seen...
Winner: Gael Monfils (told you)
If not him, then: Nikolay Davydenko or Mardy Fish
Dark horse(s): Marcos Baghdatis or Andy Roddick (can Roddick be a dark horse)
First round matches to watch: Greul/Gasquet, Djokovic/Troicki, Baghdatis/Clement
Roger's quarter: Oh gee, I wonder who Jodi is going to pick in this section. What a big surprise it will be!
Um... I might go Federer on this one.
The predictions of heart and head are aligning on this one. Roger has played some legitimately great stuff so far in the US Open series, and the Federcone partnership seems to be rocking on just fine. There's some big talent in this section, but Federer can, I am confident, handle all the punches thrown at him. The big lurking danger is obviously Robin Soderling, but I bet someone is hungry for a revenge sandwich. Served cold.
Another player I'm going to be watching with interest is Thiemo de Bakker - purely because everyone seems to be talking about him and I can't quite work out why. Suddenly he's this epic talent. When did that happen?
Winner: Roger Federer
If not him, then: Robin Soderling
Dark horse(s): Juan Carlos Ferrero
First round matches to watch: Dent/Falla, de Bakker/Gicquel, Nishikori/Korolev
That leaves us with the following semis:
Nadal vs Murray
Monfils vs Federer
I'm legitimately torn over who to pick for the first semi, though the second is no mystery to me. But given his previous record in Flushing Meadows (comparatively, at least) I'm lining up the following final:
Murray vs Federer
And you know what? I think Roger's going to break him. Again. Murray may have triumphed in Toronto, but here? Nah.
So, according to both my head and heart, my prediction for the men in the US Open is Roger Federer. (I wonder how many of you are surprised...?)
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago