The big question of the US Open draw was where Roger Federer would land, Rafael Nadal’s quarter or Andy Murray’s? Turns out, if Roger and Rafa are to finally meet at the US Open, it won’t be in the final. It will be the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Murray couldn’t have hand picked an easier draw. So what’s going to happen?
Rafael Nadal Quarter
Rafael Nadal and his camp have to be pleased with his draw. Nadal opens with Serbian Dusan Lajovic. Then Tommy Paul followed by Richard Gasquet who he owns. In the fourth maybe he gets tested by either Fabio Fognini or Tomas Berdych. Berdych has a tricky section with Ryan Harrison and then Alexandr Dolgopolov. Coming in the quarters for Rafa, figures to be Grigor Dimitrov or maybe Gael Monfils if he’s healthy. Dimitrov enters in form and off a Cincinnati title. But on the surface it looks like Rafa has dodged a bullet here, avoiding any big servers and power players who have given him trouble on the hard courts before. Plus, playing best-of-5 usually helps Nadal.
The Pick: Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer Quarter
The second biggest question of the draw is what is the state of Roger Federer’s back? He hasn’t played, he has practiced but has he practiced at full strength? Regardless, Federer will have to play either Monday or Tuesday. So time is running out, and his draw could be problematic. Young American Frances Tiafoe shouldn’t pose much of a threat. Then former semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny. Then it could be either Feliciano Lopez or Fernando Verdasco, who could push Fed and his back to 4 or 5 sets. And if Federer survives, in the fourth either Nick Krygios or Sam Querrey. And in the quarters Roberto Bautista Agut, Juan Martin del Potro or Dominic Thiem. I like Thiem’s draw. I’m not convinced of Del Potro and Bautista Agut is in Winston Salem this week, so he might be burned out. If Fed is healthy, I think he gets through. If he isn’t – and there’s a good chance of this – then he’ll lose. It’s just hard to pick a replacement. Querrey, Kyrgios or Thiem? I’ll go…
The Pick: Dominic Thiem
Alexander Zverev Quarter
Another question mark is 2014 champ Marin Cilic. After missing the entire summer including his Cincinnati title defense, how is his groin? So with him in limbo, the class of the quarter is 20-year-old Alexander Zverev. But the German has a tough draw with Borna Coric, Kevin Anderson and Gilles Muller in the fourth. In the quarters, I’m not convinced Cilic will be 100% fit, so I’ll lean to Karen Khachanov, John Isner or Mischa Zverev. I like Isner to come out to meet Zverev, but the kid is too good.
The Pick: Alexander Zverev
Andy Murray Quarter
The dream draw of the year has to go to Andy Murray. The former champ, though, hasn’t played since Wimbledon and we don’t know how his hip is. Has he even been practicing? So if it’s an issue, then who gets the semifinal spot? The contenders include JW Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Steve Johnson, Jared Donaldson, Daniil Medvedev and David Ferrer. Tsonga’s been shaky, so too Pouille. So do I pick Ferrer here? Sure.
The Pick: David Ferrer
Nadal d Thiem: Rafa beats another 1-handed backhand.
Zverev d Ferrer: Zverev too much firepower for the Spaniard.
Zverev d Nadal: I just think after titles in Rome and Canada, and with all the injuries, Zverev’s time is now.
Obviously, this all hinges on the state of Federer’s back and Murray’s hip. If they are both 100% healthy, then I think that’s the final. But until I see them compete, I just can’t pick them.
And Rafa just hasn’t won on hardcourts and wasn’t good this summer, either.
I’m not sure Kyrgios is ready to step. Same with Dimitrov. So based on the summer I just think we’ll see some different results here. And we’ll have a new Grand Slam winner. But who>
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