It’s here. The season’s final Grand Slam is upon us and the men’s draw, released just a few hours ago, has a familiar feel. As if by right and by rule, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have landed in the same half leaving Rafael Nadal to dance again with Andy Murray in his semifinal.
Digging deeper we see similar potential matchups with Djokovic v. Gael Monfils, Djokovic v. Dodig, Roger Federer v. JW Tsonga, Murray v. Stan Wawrinka, and there are a few other repeat clashes as well.
Overall, though, the draw is fairly balanced. Of the top seeds I rate Djokovic’s the easiest, then Murray, then Nadal and then Federer.
Starting at the top with Novak, the top seed should have an easy first week to get back into form and more importantly fit and healthy. It’s hard to see any long grueling matches early for Djokovic with two cushy contests before Dodig and then either Richard Gasquet or Alexandr Dolgopolov in the 16. In the quarters he’ll see either Tomas Berdych, Monfils or perhaps Janko Tipsarevic. Monfils plays Grigor Dimitrov in what should be an entertaining first rounder.
Federer opens his attempt for a sixth US Open against the upright Santiago Giraldo. Then a tricky one with lefty Tomaz Bellucci before a date with either Marin Cilic or Ryan Harrison who’ll collide in the first round. In the fourth round Federer could see Viktor Troicki or Radek Stepanek. Awaiting in the quarters will be the winner of a good one between Mardy Fish and Tsonga. Either guy could really trouble the Swiss, especially on a slick court like New York.
Murray once again has been blessed with a comfortable quarter, at least on the surface. But Somdev Devvarman can be tough and Robin Haase in the second is dangerous. Otherwise, he should ease into the quarterfinals where he could be tested by either former champ Juan Martin Del Potro, Gilles Simon or Robin Soderling. If Del Po gets into gear I think it’s him, otherwise Simon.
Defending champ Nadal has Andrey Golubev, then Nicolas Mahut, who’s a good fast court player followed by Ivan Ljubicic or David Nalbandian. In the fourth he could collide with Ernests Gulbis who plays Mikhail Youhzny in the first round or maybe Jurgen Melzer. Andy Roddick and David Ferrer will likely bid to play Nadal in the quarterfinals. Roddick has a great draw with a couple of Americans, Michael Russell and Jack Sock likely, then Nicolas Almagro before a revenge match against Ferrer.
As for a pick, Djokovic looked a little shaky in Cincinnati but with a week off and an easy opening few rounds he clearly is the guy to beat. And with Federer’s path, which would likely take him through Djokovic, it looks like a Federer-Nadal US Open will have to wait another year.
I’ll have a pick later in the week. The US Open starts on Monday, if Hurricane Irene allows.
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