The final Grand Slam of the season is set to begin on Monday in New York, and earlier today we got the men’s draw for the US Open. There’s no Roger Federer, no Tomas Berdych but former champion Juan Martin Del Potro is back for another bite of the apple.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are again the favorites and are in opposite sides of the draw. But the Serb definitely got the tougher half by a big mile. Let’s break it down.
Novak Djokovic Quarter
Right away Djokovic is tested by former Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz. The Pole has been off the radar since that run and even though he has a big game I don’t see him as much of a threat on a big stage like Arthur Ashe. Djokovic should then have clear sailing for the rest of the week until maybe running into John Isner in the fourth round and perhaps Cincinnati winner and former champion Marin Cilic in the quarters. That Cilic section, though, is loaded with JW Tsonga, 2015 quarterfinalist Kevin Anderson and Jack Sock who opens against teen Taylor Fritz. I think Cilic gets through Sock and Tsonga but not past Djokovic who by then should be in form.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal Quarter
Rafael Nadal needed a good draw and he got one. Unless his wrist is a factor, I don’t see anyone who can beat him best-of-5 on a hard court before the quarterfinals. OK, maybe Andreas Seppi or Thomaz Bellucci or Roberto Bautista Agut but I think all three of those guys are longshots on a quick court. Awaiting Rafa in that Final 8 could be either Milos Raonic or Gael Monfils. I like Raonic out to the 16s, beating Benoit Paire along the way. The question is, how is Gael Monfils and his back? If he’s healthy I think he can beat Raonic again. If not, it’s Raonic. For now, I’ll lean to the latter. And with John McEnroe, I’m going to take Raonic to knock out Rafa who will have to work hard, too hard, I think, to beat Nadal.
The Pick: Milos Raonic
Stan Wawrinka Quarter
The open quarter is the one that again has Stan Wawrinka. There’s also former champ Del Potro, David Ferrer, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Fabio Fognini, Bernard Tomic and youngster Alex Zverev. You could ask five different experts and get five different players get out of this quarter. I really want to pick a Kyrgios here, but he burned me in Toronto. And one 5-set match will finish Del Potro, and Steve Johnson or Ferrer could push him that far. So with Thiem still shaky this summer, I think I’ll take the default Wawrinka. But heck, he could lose his opener to Verdasco!
The Pick: Stan Wawrinka
Andy Murray Quarter
Murray has the ability to make a hard draw look easy (and reverse!), and I think that’s what happens here. He opens with Lukas Rosol, then another date with Juan Monaco followed by the fledgling Gilles Simon. Grigor Dimitrov or Feliciano Lopez will be there in the fourth and on the quick courts I think I’ll go with the Spaniard over the Bulgarian. But Murray will get through to the quarters to face former finalist Kei Nishikori who is in a good section. Kei’s only threat is David Goffin. In the end, it’s Murray over Nishikori.
The Pick: Andy Murray
Djokovic d Raonic: Milos just doesn’t have the goods. Not yet.
Murray d Wawrinka: Stan still stuck losing in a funk of losing to the top guys.
Murray d Djokovic: Last time Murray won the gold he beat Djokovic in the US Open final. So why not again?
Overall, top half very heavy with Djokovic, Raonic, Nadal, Isner, Cilic, Monfils and even Gasquet. But if Djokovic has his head right, personal issues in the rearview and his wrist is good, then I don’t see any problems for the Serb.
The bottom half contenders are really just Murray, Nishikori, Wawrinka and Del Potro. And again, that third quarter is wide open for the taking. I just don’t know if Delpo can handle 5 sets and the heat. But at least he’ll have a chance to make his case.
Matches get underway Monday at 1pm ET on ESPN2.
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