Less than 24 hours before the draw, here are my US Open favorites:
1. Andy Murray
Aside from his (understandable) loss to Marin Cilic Sunday in Cincinnati, Andy Murray comes into New York red hot on the court and sky high in confidence. Not having to deal with Roger Federer will help, however he hasn’t faced a Novak Djokovic or a Rafael Nadal since the clay. But with Djokovic iffy right now, he’s the man to beat.
2. Novak Djokovic
Wrist? Something else? Another early exit could signal something more sinister. But he’s always done well in New York and with an easy first week he’ll get his game back into rhythm. I just have to see how he looks on court first and see how that serve is going before I buy back in.
3. Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic won 2014 US Open and then he made the semifinalist last year. And after winning his first Masters in Cincinnati last weekend the guy is clearly in a groove. And I don’t care that Murray was gassed. That said, he’s also a guy who could get bounced at any time, however, he’s shown the rare ability in this era to knock out the big guys.
4. Milos Raonic
For some reason the Canadian has never done well in Flushing. But the quick courts, decent crowd support all should help, so what’s the issue? Enter Johnny Mac! He knows the US Open, he knows the courts and he helped get Raonic to his first Grand Slam final.
5. Juan Martin Del Potro
I loved his Rio run, but folk,s we are talking best of five sets here. One long 5-set match could spell doom, I just hope not. If he gets a good draw, gets some upsets and gets to week two in fresh shape…watch out! Then again, he’s the ultimate floater in the draw, one who could meet a Murray or a Djokovic as early as the first round.
6. Kei Nishikori
Former finalist has been solid of late, but I don’t think he has the firepower to beat a Murray and a Djokovic the final weekend.
7. Rafael Nadal
Like Del Potro, how will Rafael Nadal’s wrist handle five sets? Yes, he did well in his Rio return but in Slams he’s struggled the last year and that could play a role psychologically if he gets in a close match.
8. Stan Wawrinka
He’s a 2-time US Open semifinalist but this year he’s just been so up-and-down. And where are the big wins?
Other players to watch:
Nick Kyrgios: Should soak up the New York atmosphere, but can he keep it together, keep it focused over 5 long sets against a top opponent?
Gael Monfils: If his back is OK (a big “if”), has been a tough out of late.
JW Tsonga: Just 2-2 this summer, maybe he can get hot? Or maybe not.
Grigor Dimitrov: Has rebounded after a rough mid-season slump, but again we are talking best-of-5 here.
Dominic Thiem: Since his grass lead-up success, he’s really hit the skids. Maybe after playing just a few matches the last month he’s recharged his battery.
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