Taylor Dent is awesome! If you watched his fantastic finish last night, coming from a matchpoint down to win in a fifth set tiebreak, if you know his hardships of battling two years with a debilitating back injury that required three surgeries and a bodycast you know what I mean. And Dent is arguably the story in what was otherwise an unusually tepid first week for the men at the US Open.
The top dogs like Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal have all been rolling – the first time all Top 16 seeds are into the third round of a Grand Slam in the Open Era I believe – without much drama and intrigue allowing the spotlight to shine on great stories like Dent and Jesse Witten.
But things should change starting today as the men’s seeds collide in the third round. It’s not quite “separation Saturday” as they say, but it’s close. This afternoon we’ll see Federer v. Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick v. John Isner, Sam Querrey v. Robin Soderling and in what may very well be the best match of the day, Tommy Haas v. Fernando Verdasco.
Of all the last 32, I’ll say Roddick and then Djokovic are playing the best. Federer looked ok, same with Rafa and Murray but Roddick and Novak have taken care of business as they should have though the draws for both men have been relatively easy thus far.
Today, the fun and the easy draw end for Roddick who meets Isner in a first true test. Isner might get a tiebreak but Roddick should be able to move the big man around just enough to advance. Djokovic plays the Kentucky grad Witten and that should go straight sets. So looks like we are headed for a Roddick-Novak Wednesday night quarterfinal.
Haas and Verdasco is a tricky match, maybe a five-setter. I’ll take the hot guy, Verdasco, here although the Spaniard has never beaten the German in two previous meetings. Roddick v. Verdasco on Monday late afternoon, that’s a cracker!
I think Hewitt will test Federer but Roger’s going to run his win streak to 14 against Lleyton. Hewitt just doesn’t have the firepower but he will force some errors from Federer. I like Querrey to get his first career win over Soderling and in a mild upset I’ll go with Robredo to beat Blake tonight. On second thought, I’ll take Blake. That one is a real 50/50 and both guys doesn’t exactly exude confidence.
As for the bottom half tomorrow, look at all the Frenchman (4) including my man Gael Monfils. I still like Juan Martin Del Potro right now though. Andy Murray is still going through ups and downs something he cannot afford to do against top guys (I think he’ll beat Dent although I would love to see the upset!) and I’m still not convinced Nadal can get the job done that final weekend. Nadal v. Monfils Tuesday night? That’d be fun!
What a strange week for the women with two of the top five seeds upset. For all the world still looks like this is Serena’s tournament. Dinara Safina escaped and with an easy draw ahead – though she had one at the start, too – she should get into the semifinals. I still like Sharapova to also reach the semifinals and with Azarenka ousted looks like Venus will take her spot in the semifinals.
So in all good start to the US Open, but the best is yet to come!
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