Friday, August 24, 2007

US Open Preview

Photo by Flickr user wallyg used under a Creative Commons license.

The Favorite

#1 Roger Federer: Were you expecting someone else? Federer has won 7 of the last 9 grand slams, with his two losses coming both times at the French. He has won three US Opens in a row and it would take a betting man to say that he isn't poised for his fourth.

The Contenders

#2 Rafael Nadal: Nadal is the only person in the last 2 years not named Federer to win a grand slam. While his strong suit is typically the soft red clay in France, he has shown that he can apply his trade to the other surfaces as well, as he was the runner-up at the All-England Club this year. As the #2 seed, he has the luck of avoiding Federer until the final, and dodged a potential bullet with Gael Monfils withdrawing from the competition.

#3 Novak Djokovic: Novak Djokovic has slowly cemented his way into the tennis elite, finally bursting onto the scene when he downed Roddick, Nadal, and Federer in order to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal a cople weeks ago. He avoids Federer until the final, but seems to have drawn teh section from hell, as it is riddled with upset candidates, including Carlos Moya, Lleyton Hewitt, and Mikhail Youzhny.

The Americans

#6 James Blake: Blake has been the poster boy for the sport these last few years by overcoming long odds to vault himself back into the top ten. However, he has yet to have reached a grand slam semi-final let alone put himself in position to win one. Americans have historically performed better on their home soil, and Blake is no exception to that. He sees a recently weak #4 Nicolay Davydenko in his section of the draw for a possible quarterfinal upset, but after that he is slated to face Federer in the semis, an ominous task.

#5 Andy Roddick: America was high on Roddick a few years ago, but a prolonged bit of poor play and bad attitude has all but dropped him from our minds. Nevertheless, one cannot discount the fact that he was the last person not named Federer to win the US Open. Roddick had the bad luck of drawing Federer's section, so they will meet in the quarterfinals. There is really no one else of note in their section, but when you are staring at the big Swiss, does there need to be?

The Darkhorses

#7 Fernando Gonzalez: A fan-favorite all around the globe, this hard-hitting Chilean might have the shots in him to pull off a few upsets. To go far in the tourney, he'll first need to launch his blazing 120-mph forehand past Rafael Nadal. Gonzalez is effective when he can keep his shots under control, but as is to be expected, he is often susceptible to bouts of unforced errors.

#11 Mikhail Youzhny: Youzhny showed that he belonged at last year's US Open when, despite being unseeded going into the tournament, he upset Rafael Nadal to reach the semi-finals. Since then, he has reached the 3rd round in all of his grand slams, which is more than some top candidates can say (hint, Americans at the French). This year, getting some respect as the #11 seed, he hopes to do the same against Novak Djokovic before giving Nadal a little deja vu.

#32 Ivo Karlovic: At 6 feet-10 inches, Ivo Karlovic is used to standing tall. He made his way onto the the tennis scene at Wimbledon in 2003 when he defeated the defending champion, Lleyton Hewitt, in his first ever Grand Slam match, so he is no stranger to the upset. He might cause a splash by doing away with the notoriously volatile Andy Roddick, but don't expect him to so much as put up a fight against Federer.