By Mad Professah
You've probaby already read Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim's predictions for the 2008 US Open that starts today but here are my predictions for the Top 10 seeds results in the next two weeks:
1. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia. The past, current and future World #1 has not made it past the fourth round at the glitziest Slam in three previous attempts. In order to do equal her previous major performances this year she will have to get past the hottest player on the tour, Dinara Safina, (who Ivanovic defeated to win her first major title in Paris earlier this summer) as well as either Nathalie Dechy, Flavia Penetta or Nadia Petrova in the early rounds. However, I think that the Serbian's performance in New York will be closer to her London form than her Paris form. Fourth Round.
2. Jelena Jankovic, Serbia. The best player in the Top 10 never to have reached a Slam final had her major breakthrough in New York a mere two years ago by reaching the 2006 semis but despite having achieved numerical superiority over the rest of the field Jankovic still has not been able to get deeper in a major tournament than that. She has a pretty good draw this year, but Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Marion Bartoli and Vera Zvonareva will all be competing for that semifinal slot. I think Jankovic will make it that far, but not any further. Semifinalist.
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia. The 2004 Champion clearly has the game to win the title again but does she have the head (and the heart)? Sveta could make it to the semifinal against Jankovic or lose to a qualifier in the first round. I'll split the difference: Third Round.
4. Serena Williams, United States. The 8-time Grand Slam champion looked great in London until she lost to her big sister in the Wimbledon final and not so great in the hard court season or in Beijing. In New York the draw unfortunately has Serena in a quarterfinal match-up with Venus. Somehow I doubt that this clash will actually occur, I think that one of them will fail to make the fifth round. I'm just not sure which one it will be. Serena won this title in 1999 and 2002 and Venus won it 2000 and 2001 following Wimbledon wins in those years. I do think that Venus win makes Serena hungrier for another major title--but 2008 will not be that year. Fourth Round.
5. Elena Dementieva, Russia. Oh, Elena! The Beijing Gold Medalist has always done well on hard courts and in New York especially. This year she has a particularly friendly draw and should make it all the way to the final if she is able to make it past fellow Russians Anna Chakvetadze and Svetlana Kuznetsova, possibly the only other Russians who are more mentally fragile than she is. Finalist.
6. Dinara Safina, Russia. The hottest player on the tour somehow was unable to win the Gold Medal match against Dementieva due to a sudden return of pre-2008 form (14 double faults?!) but it is doubtful a similar lapse will happen at a major that the Safin family has previously won. In order to do so, Safina will have to go through the World #1 who beat her in Paris as well as a Williams sister--and that's just to get to a final against the person who denied her the Gold Medal. Champion.
7. Venus Williams, United States. The reigning Wimbledon champion reached the semifinals last year and then wilted against the eventual champion Justine Henin. This year she she finally defeated her sister at Wimbledon to win the title and I believe that she will get further in the tournament than her younger sister, although probably not any further than last year. Semifinalist.
8. Vera Zvonareva, Russia. Zvonareva has been playing well this year, winning a title. She's in Jankovic's quarter but I doubt she will make it past Bartoli, Lindsay Davenport or Jankovic herself. Fourth Round.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland. Last year Aggie Radwanska surprised some by taking out the defending Champion Maria Sharapova in the third round. This year she is firmly ensconced in the Top 10 but unforunately she is likely to face Venus Williams in the fourth round. It's possible that Aggie might make it two consecutive US Opens with huge upsets, but I doubt it. Fourth Round.
10. Anna Chakvetadze, Russia. Last year Chakvetadze broke through to her first major semifinal and then played one of the most hideous matches of the year against Svetlana Kuznetsova for the right to lose the US Open final to Henin. After being horribly victimized by criminals in the 2007 off-season she has not been the same player since, but hopefully she will be able to regain some of her confidence by again playing well in New York. However, it is likely her tournament will be ended by another Russian, this time Dementieva on her way to the final weekend. Fourth Round.
Of course I'm going out on a limb by not accounting for any really early round losses by a Top 10 player. Hope springs eternal. Who do you think will flame out early?