US Open 2007 Men’s Preview: Federer Fronts Freaky Draw
by Richard Vach | August 22nd, 2007, 2:35 pm
  • 68 Comments

World No. 1 Roger Federer, attempting an Open Era-record fourth consecutive US Open title, has brought out the freakiness this year on the men’s side in Flushing Meadows as the draw was unveiled Wednesday.

Of the 16 qualifying positions randomly placed in the 128 position draw, how do FIVE CONSECUTIVE qualifiers land behind Federer? This means the Swiss is guaranteed qualifiers in his first two matches, and possibly his third — unless big-serving American rookie John Isner can top No. 26 seed Jarkko Nieminen in the first round, then beat a qualifier in the second round to give American fans a third-round highlight. Federer vs. Isner? Bring on the drunk New York night tennis fans (‘C’mon you giant freaking kid (hic), serve another ace! Whooo!’).

Then again, early-round highlights aren’t a problem at this year’s US Open. It’s usually the Masters Series events that give fans blockbuster match-ups right from the start, but this year’s Open offers up No. 5 Andy Roddick vs. Justin Gimelstob and No. 6 James Blake vs. “Iron” Mike Russell in all-American openers; former No. 1 and current No. 16 seed Lleyton Hewitt vs. Amer Delic; Tim Henman in what is likely his final US Open vs. No. 27 Dmitry Tursunov; No. 3 Novak Djokovic vs. Mario “Baby Goran” Ancic; No. 4 Nikolay “All In” Davydenko vs. American wildcard, University of Florida player and Federer practice partner Jesse Levine; No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis vs. Max “The Beast” Mirnyi; and American late-blooming prodigy Donald Young vs. Aussie boomer Chris “Penthouse” Guccione.

Now that’s good viewing from Day One, as opposed to the ATP and WTA events that throw all the seeds first-round byes, turning the events into wake-me-when-the-quarters-come-around propositions. No penalty for early-week tickets here.

Potential quarterfinal match-ups are (1) Federer vs. (5) Roddick in a rematch of last year’s final, (6) Blake vs. (4) Davydenko, (8) Tommy Robredo or (11) Mikhail Youzhny vs. (3) Djokovic, and (7) Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez or (12) Ivan Ljubicic vs. (2) Nadal.

Federer’s fourth-round opponent could be/should be Richard “Baby Fed” Gasquet. Last year Federer needed three sets to subdue the Frenchman on the hardcourts at the Masters Series-Canada, and likewise on grass at Halle. No better time for Gasquet to make a mental/emotional growth spurt than at the last Slam of the year.

Roddick should have some easy openers before a potentially dicey third-round meeting with No. 32-seeded Croat “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic. Both serve lights-out, both return below average, and the two have gone to tiebreaks in seven of the 10 sets they have played in career meetings.

In the second quarter the high-seeded Davydenko has fellow seeds Nicolas Almagro and Guillermo Canas as potential roadblocks to a quarterfinal meeting with Blake (you can likely count out the struggling-with-injury Andy Murray). Blake could face the tricky Fabrice “The Magician” Santoro in the second round, and seeded threats Baghdatis or Tommy Haas in the fourth round.

Djokovic and Robredo are the top dogs on opposite ends of the third quarter of the draw, with seeds Carlos Moya, Potito Starace and Youzhny in Robredo’s path. Hewitt, Juan Monaco and Jurgen Melzer are potential bumps in Djokovic’s road to the quarters.

Nadal has what should be an opportunity to work his way into the event with an opener against Aussie wildcard Alun Jones, and a second-round meeting against either American wildcard Ryan Sweeting or Serb Janko Tipsarevic. The No. 27-seeded Tursunov likely awaits the Spaniard in the third round, and either No. 15 David Ferrer or No. 24 David Nalbandian in the fourth round.

Last year Federer became the first man to win three consecutive US Open titles since Ivan Lendl in 1984-87 (John McEnroe also did it in 1979-81), and this year attempts to become the only player in the Open Era to win four consecutive. The Swiss has looked shaky since losing to Djokovic in the Masters Series-Canada final, but showed his mental resolve in playing through some poor patches as his top-seeded contemporaries fell by the wayside during the next week at the Masters Series-Cincinnati to capture the title. Shaky or not, Federer remains the safe bet to set US Open history and log another Slam title in his march/dash to Pete Sampras’ all-time record.


Also Check Out:
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Veterans, Hopefuls Feature in 2009 Australian Open Men’s Qualifying
Has Roger Federer Lost A Step? His Trainer Pierre Paganini Is Convinced That “He Has Not”
Miami Men’s Draw: Djokovic, Federer Could Meet In SFs; Nadal Heavily Favored In Top Half
ATP Chairman de Villiers to Step Down, Men’s Tennis Search Begins

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68 Comments for US Open 2007 Men’s Preview: Federer Fronts Freaky Draw

Shital Green Says:

Richard Vach,
Thanks for the timely post, even though I was a bit earlier and made one error.

I am reposting the same from the last blog, with one correction (thanks for Rich).

Yes, the draw came out. In the pre-quarter, Fed has a couple of qualifiers before he meets Isner, Ferrero, or Gasquet. In the 1st Quarter, if everything goes without a surprise, he will meet Berdych, Mathieu, Dr. Ivo, or Roddick.

In the groups forming the 2nd Quarter, the well- known faces are Davydenko, Almagro, Canas, A. Murray, Hrbaty. The winner of this group will meet Baggy, Haas, Volandri, Querrey, or Blake.

In the 3rd Quarter, the well known faces are Youzhny, Robredo, Moya, and Starace. The winner will meet either Djoko, Ancic, Del Potro, Monaco, Stepanek, or Hewitt.
In the 4th Quarter, the well-known faces are Nadal, Tsonga, Ferrer, and Nalbandian. The winner will meet either Monfils, Safin, Gonzalez, Ljubicic, or Chela.

Up until quarter, so Djoko seems to have the hardest draw than Fed and Nadal. If Djoko can survive and can make it to the semi, I predict he will be lethal or he could be too exhausted like he was at the Wimby. I would not leave out Baghdatis from the 2nd Quarter (1st Half), either. Blake does not have an easy draw at all.

Yes, Daniel,

If Wimby is the sweet old prestige, then US Open is the crowd, glamor, money, and media publicity. Both have been denied to Nadal so far. If French Open is getting more difficult for Fed every year, almost the same could be said about the US Open for Nadal up until today. Aussie, still harder due to the surface, heat, and more skillful hard court players. If anyone has anything to prove, it is Nadal. He has a greater stake, and appears to be determined to prove us wrong about him. With that kind of determination, it cannot be concluded beforehand that Nadal will never make it to the Final, though it is not easier this year at all than last year.


beerme Says:

thats a great way for the usta to make sure americans advance- put them against other americans. best roddick can do is a QF so his ranking will drop like rox.


ckr Says:

I think Djokovic has the toughest draw. He may have to beat Ancic, Stepanek and Hewitt on his way to quarters. He has the skill level to do it. I just hope he won’t be worn out physically before he faces Nadal(most likely) or someone else.


penise Says:

The Quarter with Fed is Roddick’s only chance to redeem his year. I’m rooting for him (and Connors).


james Says:

Go Federer! Down Roddick on his home turf!


Jack Says:

Go Roddick! Even though he has the toughest draw I think that he will down Federer in the Quarters and from there defeat Novak Djokovic in a 5 setter. Federer’s career will end hear because he will lose alot of confidence. Roddick vs. Blake SF


Jack Says:

Andy Murray will go down in the first round it has been a struggle for him lately with his strength of his wrist.


Jack Says:

Juan Monaco won’t get past the first round.


Jack Says:

Ljubicic is in a whole he is struggling expect him to be upset.


Jack Says:

I think that Llyeton Hewitt is on fire.


Jack Says:

If you remember when Roddick got downed in 2005 to Gilles Muller 6-7, 6-7, 6-7 they were on serve that whole match. But there was alot on him about Andy’s Mojo. Last Year he got to the final. Roddick rarely makes mistakes on hard courts. If Roddick meets Gasquet it won’t be a strenuios match like the 5 setter at Wimbledon. Richard Gasquet has the best backhand in the game. But on hard courts it’s not as good as it is on the grass. That’s what I believe. Tommy Berdych is a huge threat to Andy, because this Czech is hard hitting so is Roddick. If Roddick had defended his title in Cincinnati he wouldn’t be in this mess. He could’ve easily been in the final. But David Ferrer 16 in the worldsaved those break? Set points roddick didn’t Convert them. Roddick is my man. Nadal Is not a standout to me he is hurt with a knee and wrist injury, I wouldn’t be suprised if he was out by the third round.


FoT Says:

Jack, thanks… I needed a good laugh today.

What in the world have you seen in Roddick’s game this year that makes you think he can suddenly beat Roger in the QF, then defeat Djokovic in 5 sets! That’s a great laugh. Check out Roddick’s record against top 10 players – heck, you can even go back as far as 2 years ago… It’s not good at all… And the only tournaments Roddick seem to be able to win are the one when the ‘big boys’ don’t play… Well, they all are playing the US Open.


Dancevic FAN! Says:

As “freaky” as the draw might seem – when you’re #1 piranha in the world you’re supposed to be pitted up against the guppies in the early rounds – it’s up to the guppies to swim their way around the jaws of their predators if they are to advance.

Fair is fair – the guppies need to win consistently at non-major events if they’re going to get better draws when they decide to go up against the big fish at the majors.

Roddick is not even in contention here.


Shital Green Says:

This is what the ATP writes: “Federer’s quarter of the draw features a number of threats, including past champion and 2006 finalist Andy Roddick, 2003 runner-up Juan Carlos Ferrero, and young stars Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet.”
I don’t see them as threat to Federer. Even though I support Roddick, only a miracle can turn him into threat to Fed. Fed will sail to the quarter final easily, but Roddick has a lot of hurdles on the way there.
How many of you agree with what the ATP says here?


Dancevic FAN! Says:

I agree to a certain point with them. But it’s hard to say who else other than Djoker and Nadal anyone would call a threat to Federer — especially in the earlier rounds of the tournament.

I think that it’s fair that they identified those players as potential threats – I can only think of Canas as a potential other threat in the earlier rounds because of earlier this year, but I guess that’s not happening.


Tejuz Says:

I guess the draw must be called favourable or unfavourable depending on who you meet in the 1st three rounds, because thats the time when you still havent got your teeth into the tournament and likely chance of an upset. From 4th round onwards you are bound to meet a top-16 guy and you ought to be ready by then to beat them.

Based on this, Fed has a easier draw than Nadal or Djokovic. Djok has to beat Ancic and Stepanek early on whereas Nadal could meet Tipsarevic and Tursonov in 2nd and 3rd round. Fed would meet Isner or Niemenen only in 3rd round.

Comparitively Fed’s 2006 Wimbledon draw was the toughest (for a grass torunament), cuz he had Gasquet in 1st, Henman in 2nd, Mahut 3rd, Berdych 4th, Ancic Qrtrs.. no time to relax cuz all are great on grass.


Wade Says:

Its about time someone put a stop to Federer. Its time for a qualifier to step up and beat easily or roddick to end his bad streak against him.

Ohhh! what am i saying Federers gonna freakin win the open again. Have a look at his freakin draw. EASY! (for him anyway) I just hope Nadal or someone can beat him in the later stages of the tourney.
Go Nadal and Hewitt at the open.

Nadals the new number 1!!!


Skorocel Says:

Dear Wade, please shut up! Hand over that Sports Illustrated trophy back to Roger, OK?


Dancevic FAN! Says:

Interesting graph that charts a player’s ranking history – very nicely done – would be nice to see these on the ATP website – http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/08/19/sports/20070819_SERENA_GRAPHIC.html


Shital Green Says:

My 3 best US Open Finals that I saw on Tennis Channels are:

1980, McEnroe vs. Borg. (7-6,6-1, , 6-7, 5-7, 6-4)
1988, Wilander vs. Lendl (6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4)
1999, Agassi vs. T.Martin (6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2)

Despite a bit higher level artistry, my not-so-impressive Finals in the most recent years are:
2001, Hewitt vs. Samprass (7-6, 6-1, 6-1)
2004, Federer vs. Hewitt (6-0, 7-6, 6-0)

Note: Let’s recall Hewitt defeated Djokovic in straight sets in the 3rd round at the last year’s US Open. It is a real (but unfortunate for Djoko) possibility that Hewitt could repeat that on the 4th round this year and head all the way to the Final. Looking at Hewitt’s appearances at the two US Open Finals, it was not so thrilling experience for me. However, looking at what he produced at Montreal against Fed (6-7(10) 7-6(6) 7-5), I can hope he could produce the same (or better?).


Tejuz Says:

I think Djok might be having too much pressure on himself to perform after his feat at Montreal. I dont think he would get past 2 or 3 rounds. But if he does he could beat Hewitt and reach the semis. He might just have to watch out for his 1st and 2nd round opponents.


Joanne Says:

I expect to see a Federer Hewitt final.Djoker probably beaten by Hewitt or before then.Nadal won’t make it past quarters.Hewitt the only consistant guy as well as having a slightly easier draw.Fed in 4 over Hewitt.I’m a Fed fan but Hewitt has always been underrated and Nadal and Djokovic and Roddick talked up a lot.


AKA Maverick Says:

I also feel that the final will be between Federer and Hewitt. This match if it takes place would be worth watching. Hewitt is a fighter and will make it difficult for Federer to win but in the end Federer will win


Skorocel Says:

Thanks for that Serena graph, Dancevic FAN! Quite interesting comparison!


Pardesi Says:

Anyone out there think that Nadal may not even show for the U.S. open? I think his injuries are more serious that his fainting spells indicate. I don’t think he will even play. There’s been no news on him since his last injury.


Dancevic FAN! Says:

I think he’ll always be injury prone because of his technique and style of play. It’s an extremely physical technique – his mechanics require more effort within his joints etc. – and he doesn’t give up on anything which in itself causes more wear long term. I’m sure he’ll play this one but in 4 years or so from now, I suspect we’ll see a lot less of Nadal getting deep into tournaments at the rate he’s going.


Voicemale Says:

Pardesi: you obvioulsy haven’t visited Nadal’s website, which outlines the extra days he spent in Cincinnati after retiring, to practice – and has booked himself into a Mahattan room near Central Park. Rest assured – he’ll be playing.

The Best of Five format is the real wild card when you try to handicap the Mens Draw. Run up tourneys are only Best of Three – and while anyone can win a prep & then take down a big name in 4 or 5 one time in two weeks – when you start looking at the guys that have it in them to win multiple Best Of Fives, the short list gets shorter. Huge edge for the ones that have proved it.

The Federer Quarter is never really a tough one for Federer, since he handles everbody pretty much all the time anyway. Into the Final for him. Roddick is the one in dire straits. He’s not gonna bother Federer IF he gets to the Quarters (Mathieu is one that could well send him packing earlier than that). Nonetheless, Roddick’s ranking plummets again after this tournament. He needs a lot more game than he’s got to get back to where he was.

The 5th Set is always Blake’s undoing, and is likely to be so again – especially if he meets up with Baghdatis. Once James finds his forehands coming back more and more, he’ll start his usual rushing play, over-hitting out of ever mounting frustration, mad at the ball that it has the audacity to come back after he thinks he’s smacked a winner.

The pressure’s on Djokovic. But, if he wants to announce he’s The Next Major Player – then now’s his chance. If he wants to be at the top he’s gonna have to negotiate draws like this anyway. Ancic is likely not ready yet to go 4 or 5, but Youzhny, Moya & Hewitt can give Novak LOTS of trouble, only because all 3 are playing well this year. Djokovic’s success getting through will be mostly a test of his mental faculty – How Badly Does He Want It? We’re gonna find out.

Nadal proved at Wimbledon exactly what Djokovic has to here, given the draw he had there, plus play 6 straight days, so good for him he got a break at this one. He’s still got something to prove on hard courts at majors, but this is his best chance so far on a surface that’s not that suitable to him. He will make the Semis. One thing we DO know is that 5 Sets will no NO problem for Nadal – and that should carry him a lot farther than most of those he’ll face.


Tejuz Says:

Voicemale.. nice points..

Djoker will have additional pressure on him after his success at Montreal. Nadal has the desire and determination and his intensity cud carry him to semis, unless he gets run over like at AU Open. Safin or Gonzo cud take him out in 5 sets. Fed .. i guess he shud be primed by now after a tough win at Cincy.


naresh Says:

hey i think everones totally undermining djoker’s chances..i mean who other than him{fed not counted} has beaten the top 3 players in the world to win a masters this year..hell djok’s won the most titles after fed & nadal, this year. he’s been in the semi’s of all the slam’s, after melbourne ..the most improved player in 2007..WAKE UP EVERYONE, we have a champion in the making here & he’s gonna be a serious threat to fed..even more of a threat than nadal is.. Fed vs Djok, final at the US Open 2007..U better believe it !!


JDC Says:

I agree, naresh. Djok will be the next first-time Slam winner and the next #1. When Fed loses the crown, it will be Djok who wears it, not Nadal.


Dancevic FAN! Says:

Perhaps, but before we all chant that Djoker is the next major winning prodigy, we should remember that a major is a different beast altogether from a master’s series tourney. The pressure, the physicality, all of those things are very much different. But I do look forward to seeing his further growth this U.S. Open!


Dancevic FAN! Says:

And for those given much fewer words, such as Henman, let’s remember them for what they brought to the game, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=A1YourView&xml=/sport/2007/08/24/sthodg124.xml.


nadalfan Says:

i hate djokovic his personality is one that doesnt compare with the top names in the game


Shital Green Says:

Everybody is making their predictions here. Let me make mine with some “ifs.” If Djoko gets to the 4th round without dropping a set and gets to play Hewitt, I hope he will, and if Djoko beats him without going into the 5th set, I believe he will make it to the Final. But there are already too many “ifs” in this prediction. Looks like most of us want to see one of the following combinations in the Final: Fed vs. Djoko, or Fed vs. Hewitt, or Fed vs. Nadal. It is not easy to predict what will happen in the Final. It is more complicated this year than last year. And I do not rule out others making to the Final this year.


Daniel Says:

Looking at the last 2 slams, Djoko have lost lots of sets, and get exhausted. He’ll have to win really fast until the 4th round and quarters if he wants to be in his best to beat Nadal and Federer. Like he did in Montreal, wining 2 set matches until the end.


Christopher Says:

I don’t like Djokovic or Nadal to reach the final this year. Nadal doesn’t play that well on hard courts and he still may be injured. Djokovik did fantastic in Canada but I think he’s tired. Federer will take care of Roddick in the quarterfinals if Roddick even gets there. That leaves Federer Vs ????. I think it could be a player like Youzhny. He made it to the semis last year while beating Nadal along the way. He could reach the finals this year. He is a very consistent player. Anyways I will take bets on Federer Vs the U.S. Open field any day of the week. Federer is the Tiger Woods of tennis or is Tiger Woods the Federer of golf. Anyways it will be fun to watch!


grendel Says:

On the assumption that the Blake match was not typical – because Fed tends to play him with such ease – and therefore not specially informative, Fed’s form is a little questionable. He may be gearing up to top form, he may not – trite thing to say, but we just don’t know. Nadal – his form is a complete mystery. Djokovic – since Canada, what? – have to wait and see. Roddick, form definitely poor, but he’s a rubber ball of a personality, and switches like a yo-yo. He may well turn out to be on song – who knows? Hewitt – in the form of his life; he’s the one serious contender we do know about. You get the feeling, whoever’s going to win, if it’s not Hewitt, he’s going to have to beat Hewitt. Agree with Shital Green – it’s a very open Open, this year. At least it looks that way right now…

On a different topic, it’s worth having a look at an interview (on video) Sampras has given on the ESPN website. Asked what era he would like to be playing in, he immediately leapt in: NOW! Standards not what they were….We know what that’s all about, don’t we? If this is a topic that won’t go away, much to some people’s irritation or boredom, that may be because a certain gentleman intimately connected with it just can’t leave it alone. The other fellow concerned, let’s not mention him, has sofar kept a discreet silence….


nadalfan Says:

i think if nadal is not injured then he can really take his game home but if tehre is an injury then its not looking good


vinitchi Says:

I agree that Fed has shown some signs of being vulnerable. Nadal is a mystery this open. Djokovic still needs to mature a little bit. Roddick won’t make it, and neither Blake, who never will… Hewitt and Federer, maybe, or a less obvious player, like someone said, a Youzny, a Mathieu…

As far as Sampras. I am sorry, but he keeps saying this, and I think he is out of his mind. The level of play right now is very high! Federer dominates because, yes, he is the best, but also becuase many of the other top seeds shake when playing him (the exception of course is Nadal). So he has that “aura” advantage… but things are much closer than it seems…


Christopher Says:

grendel,

I don’t know why Sampras would say that. The Spaniards are better than ever. Spain has never had a player as good as Nadal. Spain has a tremendous amount of depth. Federer beat Sampras on his own turf (at Wimbledon) in diapers. I think Sampras is getting a bit forgetful in his old age. Maybe he is also getting worried (just a tad) about Federer getting nearer to his record. Maybe he is belittling this era in tennis to make his accomplishments look all that more solid and impressive. Sampras makes it sound likes it’s a cake walk for Federer to dominate the way he has. I think Sampras needs to be humble and just SHUT UP!


sensationalsafin Says:

relax with the sampras bashing. hes got a point. there rnt many legends in the making in this era. so far there are only 2 established legends: nadal and federer. whereas he had becker, edberg, agassi, and several clay courters like kuerten and the dude whos name starts with a B but i dont wanna mispell it. theyr legends. dont get me wrong. this era is not weak by any means. especially when u have players like hewitt who isnt a legend but a great player. djokovic is obviously a future great player. murray, gasquet, berdych, and baghdatis, still mentally weak but in a few years, who knows, they could all be shuffling between the number 1 spot and the trading slams with each other like borg mcenroe and connors did back in the day. as for the open. y does everyone ignore history. 2004 federer won the rogers masters and lost to hrbaty in the first round of cincy. he went on to win his first us open crushing an inform hewitt. 2005 he skipped montreal and won cincy but i havent forgotten how badly he was playing during that tourny, barely beating ginepri in the semis. again he went on to win the open beating a pretty hot agassi in the final. 2006 he wins a very shaky toronto playing 3 or 4 straight 3 setters against who? tursonov? malisse? goes on to lose MISERABLY to murray in the second round of cincy. first straight set loss in something like 194 matches. broke his 55 or so winning streak in north america. went on to crush all his opponents and ended the final set 6-1 against an extremely motivated roddick who really looked like he mightve taken the title back from federer. this is the best federer has ever performed at the summer masters in the same year. winning 9 outta 10 matches and barely losing the match against djokovic that, like so many players before him, needed his best to beat a pretty poor federer. and EVERYONE from bodo to courier is questioning federer’s form. r u guys crazy? this is roger federer!! every single match he lost this year he deserved to lose just because of how truly crappy he was playing. against canas both times he played like an idiot. against nadal in monte carlo he mentally cramped up, which is unacceptable for such a champion. against volandri it wasnt even federer, federer was at home resting, the dude who lost was some amateur dressed like federer. at the french it was just bad luck cuz he had the right game plan but it was just a regular off day. and against djokovic he almost pulled it off but his forehand was off and he just couldnt pull it together enough. then theres all the talk about his 5 setter at wimbledon. did i see a different match from everyone? federer was playing average tennis. the same way he played against nadal at the french the last 2 years. nadal, on the other hand, played not just the grass court match of his life, but imo the match of his life. hitting winners off his ass!! LITERALLY!!! the touch he was playing with was inspiring. yet federer won. he showed y hes the best. mentally he stayed strong. and physically he served great. like john mcenroe said during the match, at the end of the match if nadal loses hes really gotta be questioning how he could serve so well and still lose. there you go. cmon ppl! i dont even know how federer won that match. nadal was winning off the ground, serving great, volleying great. when did federer win any points?? and dont anyone use the excuse nadal was injured because all the pros play so much that i doubt anyone’s ever truly 100% healthy. theres atleast something minor always bothering them. and nadal didnt seem to be struggling to run every ball down after his injury. federer is filled with confidence after his GREAT 2 weeks. he played shitty and won the uso series for the first time. hes got a week of rest and hes gonna be extremely ready for the open. as for djokovic. if he manages to win quickly like u all say then i think he’ll make the final. i think he does want it bad enough and will be able to push himself to do it. nadal, well, if hes fit then i dont see anyone stopping him from reaching the semis. if he faces a healthy djokovic or hewitt, i think he’ll lose. both of them r much better than him on the hard courts and have enough wins against him to know they can beat him. federer should breeze into the final. whoever he faces, nadal, djokovic, or hewitt, he will beat. as for suprise finalists, youzhny? not a chance. the only player other than the 3 i mentioned who has a chance is, yes thats right, safin. i will never stop believing that if he finds himself playing well and decides he wants to win, he will really blast through the draw. yeah hes crazy and all but if hes playing well, we all know how talented he is. hewitt, djokovic, nadal, they cant stop a red hot safin, no one can. and if a red hot and fit safin meets federer in the final, then i think we might be in for the best match of the year at least.


Shital Green Says:

sensationalsafin,
I think Baggy has better chance this year than Safin. But as you say, Safin in the best form can surprise anyone. Yet, Safin seems to have slowed down in the recent days: he does seem to have the same will like we saw in 2005 Aussie when he beat Federer in the semi and Hewitt in the final, and in 2000 when he beat Sampras. It is 2007, and Safin has not performed that well. He has not won a single title this year, and except Las Vegas, he has not even made it to any semi. I don’t see any factual grounds to expect miracle from Safin.


Shital Green Says:

I missed the “not” above, so let me correct.
sensationalsafin,
I think Baggy has better chance this year than Safin. But as you say, Safin in the best form can surprise anyone. Yet, Safin seems to have slowed down in the recent days: he does not seem to have the same skills and will like we saw in 2005 Aussie when he beat Federer in the semi and Hewitt in the final, and in 2000 when he beat Sampras. It is 2007, and Safin has not performed that well. He has not won a single title this year, and except Las Vegas, he has not even made it to any semi. I don’t see any factual grounds to expect miracle from Safin.


Christopher Says:

Sensationalsafin,

You call Sergi Bruguera (I assume that was the B person you were refering to) a legend and Hewitt not??? Bruguera won a couple of French Opens and a total of 17 singles titles in his entire career. Hewitt has won 26 singles titles including a Wimbledon and a U.S. Open title and Hewitt is far from finished. Hewitt’s win loss record in tennis is far superior than Bruguera’s. Hewitt will go down as the legend. You need to do more research. As far as Safin having a chance to win the U.S. Open. I find that laughable. I give him the least chance of the notetable Russian players to make an impact at this year’s U.S. Open. Safin has not even won a tournament since the beginning of 2005. Tursonov, Youzhny, and Daveydanko have far better resumes going into the open.

By the way, from top to bottom the talent pool in today’s tennis is better than it has ever been. That is why it is so difficult to win tournaments every week. Even lower ranked players have the ability to rise up and beat a seed at any given tournament. I don’t think this was true in the past. The top players have to be ready to go from the first round on or they will be going home.


Dancevic FAN! Says:

Other than Fed, I see it being a random opponent in the Final against him. Safin I doubt – his consistency and belief are just not there.

Re Sampras, to each his own – if Federer breaks his majors record I suppose Sampras won’t consider it an equal achievement. IMO Sampras wasn’t as dominant as Federer – look at his playing history from years that should have been his peak years, and see who he was losing to – sure lots of tough players, but some that arguably shouldn’t have been losses (i.e. the Volandri’s of Federer’s time) – quite a lot more than you may remember.

Maybe he thinks that he would steamroll the current field today and would have surpassed his record of 14 majors. Tough to say though, there’s always more to the equation than “how deep and tough are the current players”. It would be a disappointing thing to hear from a champ like that if his record was surpassed, and I suspect that if the record is broken that’s what we may sometimes hear from Sampras himself.


grendel Says:

One of the things Sampras said in his interview was that when he was at his best, serving regularly at 130 onto the lines, he regarded himself as unbeatable.

I think this is just a failure of imagination, rather than ill-advised bragging. The fact is, Sampras probably WAS unbeatable when playing in the zone. But then so was McEnroe (whom he also said he’d loved to have played when he, McEnroe,and also Lendle and Connors,were at their peaks). So is Federer, so,no doubt, was Laver. Sampras just failed to consider that, imo. I doubt he considered it and then thought, Oh I can beat these guys no matter how well they are playing.

The fact is, we can never know, a case can be made for all of them. But it is very interesting to see the individual takes of these great players. The interviewer adopted an almost worshipful stance towards Sampras (who seemed to take it as his due) and at one point referred, as it were in passing, a matter of common knowledge with nothing remotely controversial about it, to Sampras as being the greatest player who ever lived, and it was amusing to see Sampras accept this homage in the same spirit (i.e. quite obvious, hardly worth mentioning really, but if you must….).

My suspicion is that all great champions, deep down, think they are the best. That’s what got them where they were. Doubt didn’t enter their minds, and when it did, it was over. Look at the extraordinary collapse of McEnroe after his best year ever.

But it is funny for the rest of us to watch the foibles of the great, their little acts of self-deception. So far, as far as I can see, Federer has avoided all this. But what will he be like 10 years after he has retired?

Incidentally, I do think Sampras has been very unlucky – and he has in the past hinted as much himself – in that someone who threatens his g/slam count is so near him in time. So much luck enters in all these things – Fed will probably never win the French because of the presence of the great Nadal, and yet he is a far better claycourt player than most French Open champions. That’s how it goes.


Shital Green Says:

Christopher,
I agree with what you said, but this statement is not true: “Safin has not even won a tournament since the beginning of 2005.”
Correction:
Safin won 2005–Halle; 2006–Moscow, and helped lead Russia to Davis Cup victory in 2006.


Voicemale Says:

A few days ago, Roger Federer was asked by the Associated Press who he tought would win the US Open, assuming he didn’t. AP reports he didn’t hesitate with his answer: Rafael Nadal. Federer went on to say that if he had to bet his house on someone to win it besides him, it would be Rafa.

So for all of the know-it-alls that say Nadal has no chance to make the Final, here’s the Most Likely Winner saying he thinks Nadal would win if he doesn’t. Shows us what the hell WE know, huh??

There’s a lot of truth in what Federer says. Nadal is having a phenomenal year, and he won Indinan Wells back in March easily: never lost a set in 6 matches, and lost his serve only 3 times in the whole tournament. If he can play like that, then Federer is right on with his comments. Nadal played Lights Out in Palm Springs (and it was Federer again saying the Indian Wells Court is almost exactly like the US Open Court) – more of the same from Nadal can make Federer look like a prophet.


sensationalsafin Says:

ok, yeah that was the B person i was referring to. and honestly, ur probably right. hewitt is a legend. the only thing that makes me skeptical is his low slam count. but just the way he plays and the emotion he plays with makes him pretty legendary. there r tons of players who r more likely to make a surprise run to the final than saifn, but im a believer, thats not gonna change. as for federer betting on nadal. this just goes to prove how in federer’s head nadal really is. i think that federer is really stuck on the magnificent way nadal played at wimbledon and how close he came to beating federer on grass. federer also bet on nadal beating djokovic in montreal but we all see how that turned out. nadal was injured, he wasnt playing well. plus, dont forget that nadal might just be peaking early. he could still go down. hes very different from federer. first of all hes an original clay courter. most clay courters have short career spans. plus remember in 2004 when roddick was playing his best and still lost to federer in 4 tight sets at wimbledon. it could be the same thing here. nadal was playing his best and of course it went to 5 cuz nadal is better than roddick but maybe itll be a similar turning point against nadal thatll let federer know that he can beat nadal even when hes playing so well.


Christopher Says:

Shital Green,

With all due respect, I checked Safin’s record. Safin lost to Federer in the Halle final in 2005. Then Safin lost to country man Daveydako in Moscow in 2006 in the final. He did not win either of those tournaments. He was a finalist.

On the Sampras front again. Remember, Sampras never even made it to the finals of the French open once in his career. That is a huge hole in a resume for a tennis player to claim the greatest ever. Sampras, never once in his career had to face a talent like Nadal on clay. Federer has had to. IMO, Nadal would have made mince meat out of both kuertan and Bruguera in Paris. Only the great Bjorn Borg would stand a chance against him. I give koodos to Federer for being able to dominate on every surface in tennis on the planet. Even on slow red clay, Federer is the second best player in the world. Sampras, in his entire career, was never even a top 10 clay court player. I’m not slamming Sampras but he simply is not as versatile as Federer is.

IMO, The best of Federer would beat the best of Sampras on any surface. Federer beat Sampras at Wimbledon. I only can imagine what he would do to him at the French Open. Also, both Safin and Hewitt beat Sampras in the U.S. Open final. Federer was able to tame both of these players where Sampras was not able to. Sampras claims his era was more difficult. If it was, why did he not beat these two players in arguably the most important tennis tournament in the world? Federer did, and convincingly.


Tejuz Says:

Nice post Grendel.. Luck certainly enters all these things. If Sampras could serve at 130 on the lines, even Fed does it very often. So i guess, it would be more about who would win on their second serves more often. Sampras used to rush to the net often on his second serves.. but players nowadays return the serves very well, i dont think he would have had the same success on his second serves(even if it was the best the game has every seen) if he were playing now.

Regarding Safin, i heard him say in an interview recently that since his injury his movement seem to have been affected. He started playing differently to avoid the injury again and it has affected his game and confidence. He seems to be working on it slowly and says that it would take another few months before he regains it back. Lets hope he comes back and play a few more years at the top. If he reaches the finals against Fed.. it would be a great match cuz he isnt afraid of fed and Fed knows that.


Christopher Says:

Tejuz,

Roger Federer has a life time lead over Marat Safin 8-2. The last time Safin beat him was in the semi-finals of the Austrailian open. In that match Federer was injured. Even at that time it took a full strength Safin to edge out an injured Federer. Mark my words. Federer is not afraid of Safin at all. I’m sure he respects him but afaid. Not at all. Just my opinion.


Seth Says:

Regarding Safin, I don’t imagine any player in the top 50 fears him anymore, which is a shame. He’s just been such an inconsistent basketcase that you have to think these guys go into a match against Safin feeling pretty decent about their chances. At the same time, I’m pretty sure they all still respect his enormous talent, even if it’s something he’s rarely able to marshal to his advantage these days.


Seth Says:

Re: Sampras’ generation vs. Fed’s generation

The argument that Fed dominates so thoroughly because he faces a weaker generation is one that fairly impossible to prove or disprove. However, it’s worth noting that if Federer weren’t in the picture then players like Hewitt, Roddick, and Nadal would have much more impressive Grand Slam resumes. For example:

1. Roddick probably would be a three-time Wimbledon champion, as he’s lost to Fed three times – semis of ’03, finals of ’04 and ’05 – on the lawns. He also possibly would have won the U.S. Open last year.

2. Hewitt has lost several times to eventual-champion Federer (Wimbledon ’04 and ’05, U.S. Open ’04 and ’05, Australian Open ’04). Given the consistency of Hewitt’s level of play, it’s entirely likely that he would have won at least two or three of those titles if Federer were not around.

3. Nadal would probably be a two-time Wimbledon champion.

Suddenly, Federer’s generation looks stronger. Perhaps it is the thoroughness of Fed’s dominance that makes his generation APPEAR to be weaker in comparison to Sampras’ competition. For example, how many slam finals did Sampras lose? He lost a couple of Australian Open finals to Agassi (’95 and ’00) and three U.S. Open finals, one to Edberg in ’92, one to Safin in ’00, and one to Hewitt in ’01. What if Sampras had prevailed in those finals. He’d have 19 grand slam titles and people most certainly would’ve been saying of his dominance, “Yes, but he hasn’t had anyone like a Borg or a McEnroe or a Connors or a Lendl to push him. His competition is relatively weak.” The entire argument is impossible to prove or disprove.


Shital Green Says:

Christopher,
I had the finalist-winner mix-up. You are right. Thanks for double-checking. My bad.


Christopher Says:

Seth,

Very good post regarding generations. Very well thought out.


Shital Green Says:

In my opinion, in some respect, Sampras-Federer comparison would give us a fuller picture when Federer turns 31, i.e. after 5 years from now.


sensationalsafin Says:

federer obviously isnt afraid of safin. he wooped him pretty easily this year at wimbledon. but who ever said federer was injured at the AO in 2005 when safin beat him? really? did federer or anyone else ever admit to this? i dont think so. and if u actually saw the match u wouldve seen federer was playing extremely well but safin managed to edge him out. y does there always have to be an excuse for everyone? even when federer claims he had a blister or something against canas and thats the reason he lost i wanna punch him in the face because thats obviously not the reason.


grendel Says:

Federer had treatment for his back – at the beginning, if memory serves, of the final set. It all LOOKED a bit alarming. However, I don’t think it was anything serious, and Safin definitely had the edge on Federer that day – fed was always struggling to keep in touch (in 5th set) was my impression. I seem to recall he broke back at one stage towards the end, but one still had feeling Safin would win.

It is true that Safin doesn’t, at the moment, represent a threat to the big boys, or even some of the middling ones. You just keep hoping he can get back the old game

But as the months, and then even the years go by, and we see only intermittent signs of the old Safin, the fear is that the glory days are over.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be wrong!


jane Says:

Safin’s glory days may be history, although let’s recall that Federer didn’t “woop” at Wimbledon; once the Russian found his form in the 3rd set, he pushed Fed to the limit. The key thing is it took him too long to find his form.

Djokovic’s glory days, on the other hand, are in front of him.

In and amongst the waxing poetic over Federer’s achievements, not to mention the numerous – almost unanimous – predicitions that he’ll win the 2007 U.S. Open (seemingly regardless of how “open” the field is and seemingly over-looking how “freakishly” easy his draw is, once again), people have commented that it is his mental fortitude & belief in himself as well as his ability to play well on all surfaces (unlike Pete) that will make him the GOAT.

Interestingly, Djokovic has these qualities: he believes in himself (he didn’t let his loss at Cincy bother or deter him, as his post match interview showed) and he believes he can beat the best (which he’s now also proven). Let us remember that this kid grew up in a war-torn country and yet (or perhaps accordingly) he has one of the most affable personalities AND a keen desire to win. Moreover, he can play well on every single surface: grass, clay and hardcourts (granted I don’t know how he does on carpet).

And yet, not many have acknowlegded that this could potentially be his break-through slam. He got to the semis at the French (lost to the Champ) and to the semis at Wimbledon (retired due to ridiculous “play-everyday” schedule). Still, he claims hard court is his favorite surface, and two Master Series titles this year should support that claim.

So don’t rule out the Djoker.

The one caveat? He has the hardest draw. This could hurt him or this could help him. Only the matches will tell.

And then there’s Rafa.

As even Federer “the Great” know – never, never, never rule out the Spaniard who has moxie or gumption like no other (well maybe Connors had it, that fighting spirit).

There are others, too, who could surprise. Let’s hope so. Let’s hope the Open is not as predictable as many predict.

I would love to see a 5-set final, like this year’s Wimbledon final: that was beautiful tennis, regardless of who ultimately won. Two players SO closely matched that only a couple of points here or there decided the winner. More of those, please. More of those!


grendel Says:

Agreed, Safin pushed Fed in 3rd set at W. Once he’d have done more, that’s the trouble.

Yes, Fed has easy draw – so does Nadal, as it happens, more or less straight passage to semis, so far as one can see, where he may meet an exhausted Djokovic or Hewitt. This is Nadal’s big chance – if he doesn’t take it, then all those sceptics about his ability to master fastish hard court will be vindicated.

Not everyone is predicting win for Fed by any means. It is likely he’ll reach final, certainly. But: Djokovic, Nadal, Hewitt, all in with excellent chance.

But I hope, Jane, if Fed turns out to beat one of these, you’ll give credit where credit’s due…..


jane Says:

Grendel,

Fed has been given enough credit. I want to see others given credit, which was the point of my posting.

If he wins, I – admittedly – will not be cheering. But if his opponent gives him a good fight, I – at the least – will be satisfied.

I’ll also nonetheless be hoping for players to dismantle the Federer “aura” sooner than later, and hopefully, to de-mantle his number one standing in the process.

Sure: Fed’s great; I’ve already given him his due credit.

Put simply: I want others to win and the field to continue opening. But you know my views anyhow.


Kamy Says:

If Pete sampras thinks he is the greatest tennis player of all time or better than federer then he is badly mistaken. The fact of the matter is that sampras was not a versatile player and was never comfortable on clay courts. He never made it to the finals of the french open which clearly shows his vulnerability in clay courts. whereas Federer has already been in two finals consectively, furthermore, he had to contend with nadal who is probably the greatest clay court player of modern era. So Federer is definitely more versatile than Sampras. If Sampras thinks he had to contend with players like agassi, becker, edberg, etc. then federer also has to face nadal, roddick, hewitt, djokovic, etc. Some may say that they are not that good players like agassi or becker because they havent won that many grand slams, but that is only due to the fact that they were against the great federer. Federer dominates the game so comprehensively that other players dont look that good against him but in reality they are great players. I am pretty sure that Federer will one day surpass 14 grand slams title record of Sampras and he will also win french open beating Nadal and cementing his position as the greatest player ever in tennis history.


sensationalsafin Says:

kamy you have a very good point. the fact of the matter is sampras was great, no questions asked, but he was never a head and shoulders above the rest of the field. imo, federer’s best year was last year when he only lost to nadal and murray. everyone else he dominated. and against murray he played one of the worst matches ever compared to anyone really. but he had plenty of bad days last year where he still managed to subdue his opponents. the reason, imo, is simple, ive always felt that federer has really mastered tennis. his strokes from serve to forehand are all perfect. he can rally when he needs to, defend, offend, explode, hit 130 mph aces, etc. sampras wasnt as all around as that. he pretty much had one way of playing, offensively. so when that failed he was pretty beatable. hes backhand was never as stable as federer’s and despite have a great forehand, federer’s is the best in the history of tennis. a lot of ppl say edberg and becker are so much more talented than roddick is cuz roddick is a big serve with nothing else. well i have to disagree. i have seen roddick play some magnificent tennis. when roddick is playing his best hes playing just as good as the greats. and he would be considered a great with multiple slams right now if federer wasnt such a perfect tennis player. hewitt too, even nadal. baghdatis would be atleast a one time slam champion right now if not for federer!! as for djokovic, i have a feeling should he come through to meet federer in the uso final, he’ll end up like baghdatis, a great young talent whos breakthrough slam will just be a final instead of the actually trophy.


Kamy Says:

Roddick is certainly a great player and he has the ability to beat any player on his day. I think its just that psychogical advantage that Federer has against him that makes him so weak against him (thats what i think) and also he is mentally not that tough. The only player apart from Nadal that can consistently beat Federer is Djokovic. The way he is playing i think he will prove to be more fierce rival to Federer than Nadal in the coming future because technically his play is quite good, its versatile and mentally he is strong and certainly not afraid of Federer. Its all about how long he can maintain that level of play. If he does then he will seriously be strong contender to dethrone the great Federer from no. 1 position


grendel Says:

Would love to see Fed beat Nadal at RG, Kamy. Can’t see it, though. Not if Nadal maintains his form (and why should he not, health permitting?)


Christopher Says:

Grendel,

I agree with you. Nadal is what 21 years old. He is coming into his prime and Federer is beginning to move away from his. On a slow surface like the French Open has, I only see Nadal dominating more in the future with his physical game. Like you said, that is provided Nadal stays injury free. I don’t think motivation is a problem for him at all. I see no reason for Nadal not to beable to challenge Bjorn Borg’s record six French Open crowns. The only question mark for Nadal right now is his fast hard court game. Maybe some of those questions will be answered in the next two week.


Timmy Says:

Federer will win!!!!

He is the Champ of all time.

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