To me the biggest intrigue of the 2013 US Open draw was in which quarters Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro would land. We know defending champion Andy Murray will end up in either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal’s half, but there really isn’t much to choose between the two – Murray would probably rather be with Novak, but you could argue either way. But with Roger’s ranking crashing and Delpo on the upswing, it does make pairings that much more interesting.
So who will Roger be seeded to meet in a quarterfinal night showdown likely two Thursdays from now? Why it’s Mr. Nadal!
Roger and Rafa have never played at the Open in their historic rivalry, will it finally happen now?
First to the top of the draw.
Former champion and current No. 1 Djokovic is again our top seed. The Serb’s been at No. 1 the whole season but after a strong start he’s hardly playing like it of late. And with Nadal’s reemergence, Novak’s going to have to at least get to the final I think to finish the year No. 1. Unfortunately for him it won’t be an easy road. Novak opens with one-time future hope Ricardis Berankis. Then maybe Lukas Rosol followed by a weekend date with Mr. Sharapova, Grigor Dimitrov who beat him at Madrid. He could get a little breather in fourth against Benoit Paire or maybe Marcel Granollers – that little section is a toss up! In the quarters, though, I like Del Potro to be waiting. Delpo will have a tough road with Lleyton Hewitt, then Jurgen Melzer before edging Tommy Haas in what would be a fourth round classic. In the quarters, right now I’ll lean slightly to Djokovic only because the Haas-Delpo match could really take a lot out of the Argentine. But we’ll see.
Murray did end up with Djokovic and overall he has to be pleased in this his first Grand Slam title defense. The Scot’s been to the finals of the last four Slams he’s played, of course winning the US Open last year and Wimbledon earlier this summer. As I said before, I know he’s had a poor 2-week hardcourt run, but I think with his draw he’ll do just fine. There’s no Federer, no Isner, no Del Potro so he’ll take it. Murray will be tested early by Michael Llodra who has a dangerous game for the quick New York courts. But otherwise there’s no one to worry about until the quarters and Berdcyh. And for Tomas, like Murray he’s in a good section at least until the fourth where he could run into Kevin Anderson (again!) or Stan Wawrinka. Murray just lost to Tomas at Cincy but in best-of-5 at a Major I think Andy gets the job done.
Things are quite wide open in the David Ferrer quadrant. This was where guys like Federer and Delpo hoped to end up, and unfortunately for them the chips didn’t fall their way. And that leaves the struggling Ferrer in a section with Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz as his fellow top seeds. Gasp! If Ferrer was playing well he’d be my pick. But he isn’t. If Gasquet had a brain, I’d take him, but… Raonic or Janowicz? I don’t know. Feliciano Lopez, Dmitry Tursunov, Ernests Gulbis, Janko Tipsarevic, Jack Sock? If you ask 10 people they’ll give you 10 different favorites for this section. Right now I’d take Andy Roddick to get through this section, if only he’d unretire. Anyway, it will be quite an opportunity for someone, and right now I’ll pick…Gasquet to beat Raonic then beat Gulbis in the quarters. Like that will really happen – if it does lunch is on me.
Ok, now to the quarter of death. We have Nadal, we have Federer, we have Querrey, we have Tomic, we have Dayvdenko, we have Isner, we have Verdasco, we have complete armageddon. Roger has to happy, though. He’ll open with Grega Zemlja, then maybe the noisy Carlos Berlocq followed by Sam Querrey in the third. Federer’s week two could begin with Kei Nishikori if healthy or maybe Bernard Tomic, before that collision with Nadal in the quarters. But will Rafa be there? Federer needed a great draw and boy did he get it. Rafa would always like a great draw, especially on hardcourts, but he didn’t get it. Winner of his last 19 on hardcourts, Nadal opens against feisty hardluck American Ryan Harrison, then likely Canadian ace Pospisil, then Davydenko or Verdasco before Isner or maybe Gael Monfils. Certainly he can win those matches outright, but he’s going to lose some sets and get tested, especially Isner. But it’s hard to bet against Rafa and I think he comes through and beats Roger to reach the semis.
So my semis look like Djokovic v. Murray and Gasquet v. Nadal. I’ll still take Murray to beat Novak and then beat Rafa in the final. I think all the energy Rafa will have to expend early on catches up with him in the end. And Murray repeats.
Then again, Del Potro could certainly beat Novak, Berdych beat Murray and Nadal lose to Isner.
Overall, I think it’s a good, not great draw. I just wish there were some more threats in that Ferrer-Gasquet quarter. That section is by far the weakest.Of the top guys, I think Federer and Murray have the best draws to week two.
And of added importance, I really think the winner of the tournament will finish the year No. 1. Yes, that means Murray.
Matches begin on Monday on Tennis Channel and ESPN2. I’ll have more before then.
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