Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The US Open? I’ll Go With Roger Federer’s Bad Back
by Sean Randall | August 22nd, 2017, 3:41 pm

Yeah, Roger Federer’s playing. Yeah, so too is Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray as well. But this year’s US Open just feels more wide open than in the past.

Sure you have 3 of the Big 4 as the favorites, but they just don’t feel like locks to win it. That’s because we’ve seen breakthroughs this summer from Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem continues to push ahead along with some of the other youngsters.

So while Federer and Nadal have dominated for the most part on paper, on the actual court I have my doubts. Here are my favorites.

1. Roger Federer
Undefeated in Slams this year, he’s won the US Open 5 times, made at least the semifinals in 10 of his last 12 appearances. He loves playing New York, he knows what he’s up against and he’s got added motivation with the No. 1 ranking at stake.

But, and it’s a big BUT.

The back.

We saw him have issues against Zverev in the Montreal final and right now, we don’t really have any sense of how he has been progressing. And with a back, it might be okay now, but then one sudden movement and that’s that. He is playing his first Slam as a 36-year-old.

So a healthy Federer you can put him in the semis, but coming off a back issue, playing best of 5, until I see that first round match, it’s hard to say.

2. Alexander Zverev
After his Rome title over Novak Djokovic then back-to-backs at D.C. and Montreal where he rocked Roger, I think Zverev has a real strong shot at leaving NY with a first Slam. His issue has been the Slams where he has yet to have that signature big win. But next week in New York when you look at his opponents, match-by-match, he’s going to be favored in just about everyone with the exception of a Federer and Nadal.

Plus, with no Stan Wawrinka, no Djokovic, no Nishikori, that opens the door for a guy like him. Can he get through it?

3. Rafael Nadal
I put him at No. 3 only because of his Australian Open and Miami results. He played well enough to make the finals there, but the fact remains, he hasn’t won a hardcourt title since 2014 Doha. A long time ago.

And stunning losses to Denis Shapovalov and Kyrgios this summer doesn’t help his cause.

I know he’s No. 1 now but deep down I think he knows that if Federer stays healthy it’s only a matter of time before the Swiss overtakes him.

But again, with both finalists out from last year and so many wounded, this is a real opportunity for Rafa. I just think there are more threats in the draw to him than say a Zverev.

4. Take Your Pick

After those 3, it’s anyone’s guess.

Andy Murray – Will he even play? And if he does how fit and ready will he be after missing the entire summer lead-up. The ESPN announcers including former coach Brad Gilbert were saying this past weekend that Murray is a guy who needs matches. Well, he’s had none. That can’t be good.

Nick Kyrgios – Are you ready to buy him winning a Slam? I’m not. No yet. Over best-of-5 he could go out at any moment or just as well pull off an upset. One thing is for sure, the top guys don’t want to see him across the net.

Dominic Thiem – If the courts are a little slower that would help the Austrian. But those odds aren’t that great and neither are his to actually win the whole thing. Quarters or semis, maybe. But his first Slam coming in New York? I don’t see it.

Grigor Dimitrov – A very strong week in Cincinnati has got the mercurial one heading up again. But can he sustain it? Like Kyrgios, he too could easily flop in the first few rounds and while he’s won a Masters, I’m not convinced he’s mentally sound enough to win a Slam over 7 best-of-5 matches. That said, he’s healthy and in form, and if the top guys falter then…

Juan Martin Del Potro – We keep hoping but I fear best-of-5 is just too much for the 2009 champ. He was cooked after just a set-and-a-half against Dimitrov in Cincinnati, so how’s he going to manage in 5?

Marin Cilic – Like Murray, the former champ hasn’t hit a ball since Wimbledon. And he usually plays a lot of tournaments. So missing those matches is going to hurt him, if he plays at all.

Milos Raonic – This guy’s been on a milk carton MIA for most of the year. Anyone seen him? And will his wrist allow him to play?

JW Tsonga – A family man now?

Gael Monfils – If you wanted to take a longshot, maybe this is the guy. Made the semis last year losing that bizarre match to Djokovic but the question always with him is his health.

Sam Querrey – Quietly putting together his best season. With a good draw, short matches he could do some real damage.

John Isner – See Sam Querrey.

Kevin Anderson – If the courts are quick and he’s healthy, you don’t want to play him.

Bottom line is, among the top favorites Federer, Nadal and Zverev all have big question marks – is Roger fit, can Rafa win on hard, is Zverev ready to win. Then you have a big group of contenders that could go 15 deep. All of whom could win it!

The good thing for those that are banged up like Federer, Murray and Cilic is that more than likely those guys will have or should have at least two easy rounds next week to work into form. On the flip side, if they find themselves in a fifth set, that could be problematic that early in the event.

So in the end, if Federer’s back is OK, then it’s his US Open to lose. Otherwise, just roll the dice and see who wins. Isner, Querrey, Kyrgios, Dimitrov. That could be the semifinals!

And it could very well be first-time champ not named Zverev! But then who?

We’ll know where Federer lands when the draw is released on Friday. But I don’t think it matters much.

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32 Comments for Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The US Open? I’ll Go With Roger Federer’s Bad Back

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Good article. Pretty much agree. There is no one in the draw without serious question marks. OK, Fed’s back could eliminate him. But who has a BETTER shot?

I would put Zverev and Rafa pretty close to Fed in odds, and then maybe Dmitrov and Murray a bit below them. Murray (mostly) brings it at Slams, as we saw at French.

I don’t see Kyrgios, Thiem, Raonic, Cilic or Del Potro having a realistic chance, let alone Isner and the others mentioned. But, they could certainly be spoilers, knocking out a hobbled Fed or short-hitting Rafa.

My main hope is a run by Shapovalov!

Willow Says:

Pretty much agree, but we will see however ….

lylenubbins Says:

Totally wide open I agree but I’m maybe a little more bullish on Kyrgios due to the USO night showbiz thing being a motivator for him.

J-Kath Says:

Not convinced that Federer’s back is a major problem – he got a bit gassed and had some “winces” which naturally worried him. Convinced that Murray shouldn’t be playing at all.

Nonetheless I think it will be an experienced player and I seriously believe Nadal may win.

Tony N Says:

Federer and Nadal have already met at Arthur Ashe Stadium this year.

Federer’s back is a valid, continuing concern. Any knowledgeable tennis expert — including TC commentator Jimmy Arias — immediately realized that something was physically wrong with Federer during the Montreal final. Since Federer has not resorted to stem cell therapy to permanently fix his back, he has to rely on traditional fitness and conditioning hard work to prevent and recover from back injuries. Federer’s back problems in Montreal were probably due to his prematurely returning to competition after an extended post-Wimbledon vacation break and inadequate fitness/conditioning work. At the Australian Open, Federer was able to endure three five-setters probably because he had put in more work on fitness/conditioning that he had before Montreal and the grass season. When Fed does not have a sufficient fitness/conditioning foundation, it tends to show in his footwork, movement and back. Hopefully he has worked extra hard since Montreal to get back in the shape hee was in at the AO.

Humble Rafa Says:

News from my good friend Deliciano via Mr. Judy Murray.

Sir Lady Forehand is done. Done in the head. He may show up in person to feel good but don’t expect much.

AndyMira Says:

I remembered HR been eatin’ his humble pie a couple of times last year regarding Andy….seems like he still craving for it…M!..what r u waiting for??????Bake him some more will u!!…This time add some ‘Dragon’s Breath’ chili that accidentally been produced by your countrymen Mike Smith…I’m sure HR would love that!!….Ohohohohohohoho!!

Humble Rafa Says:

I tell Xisca not to take any private pictures on the phone.

funches Says:

I think Ferrer is a threat to make the semis and maybe even the final the way he was hitting the ball in Cincinnati.

The number of guys he can’t beat is much lower with Djokovic and Nishikori out, Murray not healthy, Nadal playing poorly and Federer having a balky back. There was nothing between him and Kyrgios in the Cincy semis until the tiebreakers, when Ferrer’s game dipped.

Margot Says:

Days are long, long gone when HR rattled my cage, A.M!
As for Andy, zero expectation and just hoping he can make the 2nd week.
Have absolutely no idea whose gonna win, let’s see whose still standing two weeks from today. If it can’t be Andy, and it really can’t, since that magical day when he won his first slam he’s done badly here even when comparatively healthy, hope it’s Super Sascha, Naughty Nick or Gorgeous Grig.

Willow Says:

When it comes to HR, he doesnt rattle my cage so much, i just dont even understand what the hell hes talking about alot of the time, his posts dont even make any sense ….

AndyMira Says:

@M & Willow….HR doesn’t rattle my cage too..even tho he’s always made rafa as his main subject..i just want to tease him back since he’s very ‘fond’ of Andy too…Sometimes i like him with his funny post and sometimes not…

Willow Says:

AM Im just confused by his posts, i dont mind comedy, i dont even mind comedy i dont find funny, god knows theres plenty of that here, but its as i say the posts dont even make sense to me anymore ….

AndyMira Says:

I know Willow!…sometimes i don’t understand his post either…but,i guess we can put that down as HR’s trademak and personality…,HR is unique that’s for sure and his bite so far not that dangerous…so,that’s okay enough in my book Will!

James Says:

A 6th US open, 3rd slam in a year at this age – both would be mind blowing accomplishments if Fed did it. Does depend a lot on the back – which we don’t know much about yet.

I don’t see Nadal winning it. I saw him struggle, at Montreal and then more at Cincy. And it was his forehand. On clay the ball slows down and sits up, giving him enough time to hit that vicious top spin. A flatter faster ball makes that difficult. While he has greatly improved his offensive game, his forehand still needs a high ball to be effective. He was also low on confidence, often standing 20 ft behind the baseline. I can’t see him beating Zverev on hard courts if both are healthy.

Nevertheless, both Fed and Nadal can play relaxed the rest of their lives. 10 French opens – nobody is breaking that record. 8 wimbledons? That one too. 19 slams? Maybe, but highly unlikely. Strangely, all of these 3 records have been set in the last couple of months. If Nadal or Fed can improve on any of these, that would be insane.

Roger is CLASS Says:

good luck Roger.

Roger is CLASS Says:

Nadal “I had more injuries than Djokovic, Murray, Federer combined” Cincinnati 2017 Interview


lol. Federer, Djokovic, Murray have surgery. Safin, Del Potro, Haas, Davydenko had career threatening injuries.

Nadal NEVER surgery.

Giles Says:

^^^ And when did Djokovic have surgery??

Willow Says:

He hasnt but he will be having shoulder surgery ….

Wog Boy Says:

Nole had three surgeries on his neck by Professor Adolfo Panfili in Rome, that was when he had problems with his service and pain followed by pins and needles in his arm.

He is not having shoulder surgery, he never said he is having one, it was well publicized that the only cure is total rest and not touching racquet for three months, what he is doing now.
There is no need for desinformation (lie).

Giles Says:

^^ Has it been confirmed?

Willow Says:

Well i dont know, but i think the whole point of him taking the rest of the year off, was to have shoulder surgery ?

skeezer Says:

“lol. Federer, Murray have had surgery. Safin, Del Potro, Haas, Davydenko had career threatening injuries.

Nadal NEVER had surgery.”

There, look better? Point still stands.

Markus Says:

Nadal must be counting paper cuts.

Willow Says:

Does it really matter whos has or hasnt had surgery and who hasnt ?

Willow Says:

I Thought Novak was having surgery so sorry, no need to make a federal case out of everything though ….

Willow Says:

Markus lol ….

t4t Says:

What does it matter whether somebody has surgery or not? Some players opt for surgery for quicker results. Nadal, as we know, is afraid of surgeries and has been opting for substitutes whenever possible. However, Nadal did have surgery. Appendectomy. He tried to postpone it as much as possible but finally had to go under the knife.
Certain Fed fans here are always spreading fake news or trying to impose their false interpretations. So according to them, Nadal has suffered less injuries than other players like Federer. Hilarious!

Willow Says:

t4t in a sobering moment i agree with you, left you a reply on the other thread BTW ….

Giles Says:

Sooooo, turns out Fed had a supposed bad back for ONE match. That’s called an injury? Lol. Rumour has it he’s running around like a rabbit in practise. He’s obviously had plenty of ” sustenance” during his two week rest. Lololol

Markus Says:

This is going to be an interesting US Open. I don’t need to focus on who aren’t there but rather on those who will take advantage of this opportunity in the absence of the usual suspects. Will the vanguards left standing, one decidedly old and the other growing old and oft-injured, be able to prevent the onslaught of the younger ones? Will one of the very good but slam-deprived players finally become a single-slammer? Will someone from the lost generation find his way? Will a star be born? I have my preferences but I think I will be happy for whoever wins.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Markus, very well put.

The surgery thing is interesting (i.e that Rafa alone has avoided injury-related surgery), but I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that Federer has had to contend with injury issues anywhere near what Rafa has. As Mac would say, you CANNOT be serious. (If any ambitious stats-compiler is out there, they can let us know how many tournaments each has missed due to injuries. Per year, please).

Tangent: All these years Fed fans talk about how Fed has avoided injuries with his style of play, while Rafa has suffered due to his brute force. I never bought into that much, because a) I think genetics and training are more important factors than style of play in injuries, and b) its not like this is some moral victory, to have a less injury-prone style. I really doubt that Fed came to this style because he foresaw that he would avoid injuries. Players play to win. They are desperate to win. Someone who is injury free doesn’t risk their entire career to play a gentle style. They will play how they have to to win. Anyway, that’s a tangent. A tangent on the tangent was someone recently Chris Ford(? is that his name?) broke down the physics of it, showing just what an immense difference mass makes on joint strain. Again, its not like ROger and Novak chose to be slender and Rafa chose to be thick. Anyway…

On to Queens.

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