The final big test before the US Open begins Sunday with the Cincinnati Tennis Masters. The draw is much like Montreal’s with the additions of Andy Roddick and David Ferrer. Novak Djokovic is again in the same half as Roger Federer leaving Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal in the bottom section.
I thought in Montreal Djokovic had a tough draw and again I think he’ll have a tricky, but manageable road likely filled with American opposition. Novak could begin in the second round against teen Ryan Harrison, then John Isner in the third round before a Montreal rematch with Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals or Andy Roddick. The slumping Roddick will have to beat Phil Kohlscreiber then Feliciano Lopez just to meet Monfils. Harrison opens against Juan Ignacio Chela while Isner gets a qualifier before Stan Wawrinka. Still, unless someone like Isner catches fire on his serve or it gets incredibly hot, I think Djokovic gets through.
Federer could have the toughest test of any of the top seeds in potential opener against Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine only needs to beat the soft-serving Andreas Seppi to set up the salivating clash with the Swiss, and I think it happens Tuesday or Wednesday night. In that match right now I’m leaning toward Del Potro. With his the firepower if Delpo’s on his game he’ll beat the four-time Cincinnati champ and should emerge from that quarter. Tomas Berdych, Viktor Troicki and Ivo Karlovic are lurking in that section but I think it will come down to that Delpo-Federer match. Also embedded in there is one of the better first round matches in James Blake against Marcos Baghdatis.
Murray’s section has the potential to be tough with the mercurial David Nalbandian, then JW Tsonga and in the quarters Gilles Simon. If Tsonga doesn’t hurt himself later today against Djokovic I think he’ll come out. Otherwise, after his poor showing in Montreal I think Murray will get back on track. Ferrer, who recovering from a hand fracture will open against the Janko Tipsarvic-Grigor Dimitrov winner.
In the last section, it looks for the world like Nadal and Mardy Fish will clash in that quarterfinal. Both have good roads out the final eight. Nadal could meet Garcia-Lopez, then Fernando Verdasco before Fish, while Mardy, a finalist there last year, might have to deal with Nikolay Davydenko and Richard Gasquet. It’s hard to go against those two right now.
So my semifinal picks right now are Djokovic over Del Potro, Nadal over Tsonga with Djokovic beating Nadal, again! Although if Novak’s going to lose (assuming he doesn’t in Montreal this weekend), Cincinnati with heat/humidity would be the place.
Among the things I really want to see is the Federer-Del Potro clash. Roger really needs to win that match badly. I’ll also keep an eye on Roddick who’s played well in Cincinnati. He, like Federer, desperately needs a good, signature win.
I feel like even if Murray loses early -which he could- he’ll be okay in New York. But Nadal, after that Dodig loss, needs an injection of confidence.
The tournament starts Sunday with the Blake and Del Potro matches. The top seeds begin on Tuesday. Robin Soderling and Milos Raonic are the the big names missing from the tournament. And worth mentioning are some of the names in qualifying like Radek Stepanek, Ernests Gulbis, Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic.
And after the crazy week in Canada I expect things in the men’s and women’s draws at Cincinnati to go more to form.
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