Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bottom Heavy

FLUSHING, NY - AUGUST 29:  (L-R) Bob Bryan, David Baron, Mike Bryan pose for a photo together during Arthur Ashe Kid's Day at the 2009 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Getty

Bob Bryan, David Baron, Mike Bryan pose for a photo together during Arthur Ashe Kid's Day at the 2009 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

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Both US Open draws this year feature bottom halves heavy with contenders, players who can cause all sorts of trouble for the top seeds, and some dangerous floaters floating around for good measure.

On the men's side, the short list of the 16 seeds in the bottom half reads like a hardcourt army: No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 17 Tomas Berdych, No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez, No. 13 Gael Monfils, No. 18 David Ferrer, No. 3 Rafael Nadal, No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero, No. 9 Gilles Simon, No. 16 Marin Cilic, No. 19 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 27 Ivo Karlovic, and No. 2 Andy Murray. Scattered about like weeds that threaten to strangle whatever the seeds produce are Rajeev Ram, Nicolas Massu, Jeremy Chardy, Jose Acasuso, Michael Llodra, Nicolas Kiefer, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco, Marat Safin, Chris Guccione, Philipp Petzschner, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ryan Sweeting, Feliciano Lopez, and Ernests Gulbis. All these players have the game, experience, and/or recent tour-level momentum to pull off a few surprises. I'm not making any predictions of this mess.

As for the top half, Roger Federer can sleepwalk to the semifinals without dropping a set where he'll likely find Novak Djokovic, unless Andy Roddick finds his confidence and can get out of the fourth round, no small task given the players who stand in his way. Raja tends to get soft draws, but this one is a joke. As peytonallen said, unless the sky falls....

NEW YORK - AUGUST 28:  Tennis legend Billie Jean King greets the crowd during the opening ceremony for the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on August 28, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.
Getty

Tennis legend Billie Jean King greets the crowd during the opening ceremony for the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on August 28, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.

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On the women's side, with a few exceptions, you've got headcases in the top half and champions and contenders in the bottom half.

That said, the second quarter of the draw looks most interesting. Will Elena Dementieva be able to clear the hurdle of Maria Sharapova at a Slam as early as the third round? Will Maria get past the player some call the pit bull in the first round? Will Caroline Wozniacki and Sorana Cirstea, two of the players folks think I want to win the whole shebang, face off in the third round? If so, who will prevail? And will Agnes Szavay, also on the list, come alive at the final Slam of the year and knock off Svetlana Kuznetsova, if they both win two matches?

Dinara Safina, who will remain No. 1 no matter how she fares in Flushing Meadows, might have to fight her way to the quarters, where her campaign will end. Jelena Jankovic, the defending runner up, should be the player who stops her, but she's not the only player in that quarterfinal who can.

As for the half of champions, we'll just have to see if we get another all-Williams face-off in the semis. Defending champion Serena Williams may have to exact summertime revenge on Sybille Bammer and Samantha Stosur to get there, and Venus Williams will have to subdue some hard hitters and possibly Kim Clijsters just to make the quarters where Victoria Azarenka or Li Na will await.

As for the youngster who's all potential that I want to storm through the draw and win her maiden Slam: I'll reveal her identity when she falls. Though, I have to say, she has a workable draw and if she plays extremely well and gets a little lucky, she could contest the final.

We'll see.

6 comments:

Pamela said...

Just for the record Craig, I think the youngster you chose is Sabine Lisicki.

I like her a lot, and I hope she does well - not taking out my favorite of course, but still ...

Hopefully she'll have a good experience. I like her more than the rest of the next crop of players. She's returning from injury so good luck to her.

tim said...

I read a NYT article regarding the Bryans I thought was a bit strange. They claim that Nestor and Z got together as a doubles team just to "usurp" the Bryans' position. It seems like Nestor and Z have gotten into their heads. BTW I am a fan of both teams. I like the Bryans but I really like Nestor too.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/magazine/30brothers-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&pagewanted=all

Helen W said...

The main thing is that Craig actually TELLS US who is choice is after the poll closes ....

Craig Hickman said...

I'll tell you, Helen W.

But I don't want to jinx her, so I'll wait till she loses (or wins!)

VTennis.co.uk said...

Regarding the second quarter of the women’s draw it will be interesting to see if Maria Sharapova can continue her rapid improvement since her shoulder injury. Since watching her lose to Gisela Dulko at Wimbledon 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 she was obviously lacking match practice. The recent Roger Cup was a testiment to her recovery and with Maria coming runner-up was an excellent result leading up to tomorrows US Open. Elena Dementieva is currently playing some of her best tennis right now so let’s see if she can beat her this time?

Matthew said...

Roger's quarter is pretty much a joke. There are only three players in it with wins against him (Blake, Hewitt, and Schuettler) and only one who has beaten him in the last five years, which is of course Blake at last year's Olympics. Unfortunately, since losing that match in Beijing against Gonzalez, Blake just hasn't been the same player, and is in complete freefall.

Fed is 12-0 against Davydenko, 11-0 against Soderling, 10-0 against Youzhny, 8-0 against Robredo, 6-0 against Rochus, and 4-0 against Mathieu, Chela, and Starace. I think the player who has the best chance to oust Federer is Sam Querrey, but even though it's the best out of the players in that quarter, it's still almost no chance at all.

Roddick's eighth is actually fairly tough - Haas, Verdasco, or Isner before he even gets to Djokovic. And Roddick has been doing so much press before the tournament (did you see him on Letterman? eh...) that I wonder how it's going to affect him. The pressure of following up that Wimbledon win? Hoo boy.