Tuesday, August 26, 2008

US OPEN 2008: Men's Top 10 Preview

By Mad Professah

Yesterday I posted my predictions for the Top 10 Women players at the 2008 US Open. Today is my prediction for the Top 10 Men.

1. Rafael Nadal, Spain. The new #1 player in the world comes into the final Grand Slam of the year having one of the all-time best years on tour, having won three ATP Masters Series titles, the French Open, Wimbledon and an Olympic Gold medal (singles). Nadal has a pretty good draw (except for a possible 4th Round match-up with Ivo Karlovic) and is clearly playing with confidence since he has only lost one match in a Grand Slam tournament all year long (to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Australian Open semifinals). Nadal has historically underperformed in New York, having lost in the quarterfinals the last two years. This year as long as he can get past Karlovic, James Blake and Andy Murray he should make his first US Open final. PREDICTION: Finalist.
2. Roger Federer, Switzerland. The once and future #1 player in the world has been having an incredibly disappointing year (for him) despite having been in two Grand Slam finals and winning an Olympic Gold medal (doubles). For the first time, since 2003 he has arrived in New York not as the #1 seed and this time he has Novak Djokovic in his half of the draw. Despite having won this tournament for the past four year in a row, he can not be considered the favorite, considering his performance this year and his difficult draw. (Radek Stepanek could be problematic in the early rounds.) I believe the tournament will be decided in the semifinal clash between Federer and Djokovic on Saturday September 6th and until we see how the Serbian and Swiss are playing in New York it's difficult to predict the winner of that showdown. PREDICTION: Semifinalist or Champion.
3. Novak Djokovic, Serbia. The third member of the triumvirate at the head of men's tennis is the only other player besides Nadal and Federer to have won a major title since May 2005. Although he lost (in a 3-set match) to Nadal in Beijing, I believe that if Djokovic or Federer gets to the final, they will be able to figure out a way to win. Really, Djokovic should have won the title last year, it was only through a series of unlucky breaks that he was down two sets instead of up two sets in his final against Federer, which ended soon afterwards. This year Djokovic has played some excellent matches against Nadal, losing a very close final at Queens and having his revenge in the Cincinnati semis. It is true Djokovic beat Federer at the Australian Open but we know now that was not Federer at his best although with his confidence shaken I think the Federer-Djokovic semifinal is currently too close to call, but I am confident that person will be the 2008 US Open Champion. PREDICTION: Semifinalist or Champion.
4. David Ferrer, Spain. Got to the semis last year by defeating a hobbled Nadal. Doubtful the incredibly fit Spaniard will be able to repeat that feat this year if he faces a much improved Andy Murray in the quarters. PREDICTION: Quarterfinalist.
5. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia. The Russian is in a weak part of the draw but it doesn't take much to defeat him on hardcourts. It's doubtful he will be around long enough for a quarterfinal match-up with Federer--unfortunately for Federer. Possible replacements are Dmitry Tursunov, Jarko Tipsarevic and Richard Gasquet (or Tommy Haas). PREDICTION: 3rd Round.
6. Andy Murray, Great Britain. I think this US Open is a great opportunity for Murray to show that his first ATP Masters Series title (in Cincinatti over Djokovic) was no fluke and that he is coming into his own a bit later after his contemporaries Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils have made large noises at major tournaments. Murray wants to do more than make a large noise, he wants to win and some people think he can. I would be surprised to NOT see him deep into the second week. PREDICTION: Semifinalist.
7. David Nalbandian, Argentina. Oh, what can you say about an hombre like David? He's in Nadal's quarter but I'd be shocked if he gets through the gauntlet of Monfils, Paul-Henri Mathieu and James Blake. He is still one of the great ball-strikers in the game with impeccable timing, however his fitness (both mental and physical) are always annotated with a question mark. PREDICTION: 3rd or 4th Round.
8. Andy Roddick, U.S. Roddick is in Djokovic's quarter and Federer's semi. If (and its a big if!) he gets through some tricky first round matches (Fabrice Santoro, Ernest Gulbis and Andreas Seppi) he might make it to a quarterfinal blowout by Djokovic. But I doubt it. And so does he, and that's the problem. PREDICTION: Quarterfinalist.
9. James Blake, U.S. Blake finally got another monkey off his back by defeating Federer in Beijing on a(nother) bad day for Federer. Has the skills and weapons to beat anyone else in the Top 10 on the right day, hopefully (for him) that could happen in a quarterfinal against Nadal but he'll have to go through another American player in Mardy Fish as well another Black player in Gael Monfils. PREDICTION: Quarterfinalist.
10. Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland. The other Top 10 player from Switzerland (and lympic Gold Medalist in doubles) is in the Ferrer/Murray quarter and will probably not prevent that match-up from occurring. If Murray loses early Wawrinka could be a shock semifinalist by beating Ferrer in the quarters. Yeah, right. PREDICTION: 4th Round.


oddman said...

Good morning, Mad Professah. I like your prediction of Rafa as finalist - that would be lovely if he can get that far this year. There's the rub, imo - if he can get that far. I will disagree with you on one point though - IF he does get to the final, I do not expect him to lose. Not to Djokovic, not to Fed, not to anyone. The man is rock-solid in finals this year. I don't care if it is a hardcourt....

Vamos, RAFA!

Mad Professah said...

It is true that it is likely the person he's playing in the final will have had the rougher semifinal, too.

stefan said...

Well, I'm watching the match vs. Andreev right now. Fortunately, he pulled of a win (solid 6-3 in final set). Federer has been on one smooth ride until today. He was playing like he did a couple years back when nobody could slow him down. He hadn't dropped a set, had some great winners, and he played like he wanted to win it all. Today in his match against 23rd seeded Andreev, he has struggled since the start. The first two sets went to a tiebreaker, and he lost one and won the other. Then they split sets, and now here we are in the magnificent 5th set. I'm noticing that Roger is showing a great deal of emotion, something very uncharacteristic of him. Normally, Federer is able to withold that anger/frustration during a match, but today he screamed at himself after a couple points. I'm not sure if this is from the mono he suffered from earlier this year, but something has gotten in his head (and it all came out today). He's up 4-1 in the set, and the only thing that can stop him is some sort of mental lapse(which I doubt will happen). Regardless of the match today, I'm going to Federer wins the US Open.

Please check out my sports blog at: