Two rounds down at the US Open and the men’s draw is already a wreck. And it could have been a lot worse had Mikhail Youzhny not pulled up lame yesterday.
Still, somehow, we are on track for a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer semifinal, though I don’t think that happens – more on that in a bit.
In the bottom half, which is on today, get two darts and throw it at the draw.
1. Courts are slow
They say Ashe is playing slow and it looks slow on TV. We are seeing a lot of long points, long matches. As of now, I really don’t know who it favors. Maybe Rafa, maybe some of these roadrunners like Diego Schwartzman or a Carreno Busta.
It just looks like a different tournament. Can you hit through that Ashe court with power?
2. Roger Federer
He didn’t look great on Tuesday in his win over Frances Tiafoe. Should have and probably would have lost yesterday to Mikhail Youzhny. And I think he’s in trouble tomorrow against Feliciano Lopez.
The back isn’t 100%, that’s clear. We saw him struggling with his movement yesterday and I don’t know how that gets fixed by Saturday. The good news is he’s never lost to Lopez and points should be short. The bad news is Lopez is going to pump that serve and if he’s on his game – hitting that backhand – it could be trouble And also the court is just so damn slow, this isn’t Australia.
But overall, I just don’t see how Roger keeps winning if his back isn’t 100%. Can five more guys gag against him And those 5-setters are going to add up. Too bad, because this is a draw right in his strikezone, at least until Rafa.
3. Rafael Nadal
Dusan Lajovic served for the first set, Taro Daniel won the first set and then got up a break in the second. So not a strong start for Rafa. But, he’s healthy and still in the hunt, and he’s got a great draw. Leonardo Mayer is next then a much tougher test against either Viktor Troicki or Alex Dolgopolov, both of whom have beaten Rafa.
Rafa, though, can get his game right in the next few days. And if he does he should get this title.
4. Alex Zverev
My pick to win the title flamed out to Borna Coric in 4. The German couldn’t convert his break chances and it cost him. So he’s out. And after such a strong summer it has to be a biting loss.
He’ll win, but he’ll have to wait. You could see in his opener against Darian King, he just wasn’t right and he just wasn’t ready to take that next step.
5. Grigor Dimitrov
Probably my biggest surprise of Week 1, was Dimitrov’s loss to Andrey Rublev. After not dropping a set in Cincy, he bows out to the teen in straights. And he did it with a nice road to the quarters against Rafa and a decent shot to make a semifinal or beyond.
I just shake my head at that one. Zverev I can see getting overwhelemed by being a favorite at a young age, but Dimitrov can’t lose that.
6. Toronto and Cincinnati
We saw the chaos there – 8 different semifinals – and we are seeing more of the same. We were warned! And both champions are out.
7. The Youngsters
So the NextGen are finally emerging on the big stage, and it’s not who we thought. At the start of the year few would have pegged Denis Shapovalov or Andrey Rublev and even Borna Coric to be the players making a mark. But so far this week it’s been them.
Shapo plays today in a very winnable match against Kyle Edmund. Coric is going to have a tough time with Kevin Anderson, though maybe the court helps him there while Rublev will have to avoid the letdown against Damir Dzumhur.
But these kids and the many others like Frances Tiafoe, Daniil Medvedev, Zverev, are the future.
8. The Future
And what we are seeing this week – long matches on Ashe, unpredictable results, etc – is the future of tennis. Once the Big 4 dies off, it’s going to be absolute chaos and players fight for supremacy. I still think Zverev will be that guy, but it’s going to be crazy…
9. So Who Wins
Well, if Nadal stays healthy – remember they showed him with a knee scare a week ago – he’s the clear favorite. I don’t like Federer. Maybe Dominic Thiem can get hot or Gael Monfils finds his form or Juan Martin Del Potro can come alive, but otherwise you have to like Rafa just because no one else is really that inspiring.
On the bottom half, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Anderson, Coric, Cilic is about to lose to Schwartzman of all people. I don’t know. I guess Querrey since he’s been to a Slam semifinal before and maybe Pablo Carreno Busta.
But it’s a toss up.
10. The Women’s Draw
No Serena means no certainty. But I do like Garbine Muguruza. I still think she gets through. Petra Kvitova already won today, she’s playing well, but might have to play Muguruza next.
Sloane Stephens is in form and could face Maria Sharapova in the quarters.
In the top half, No. 1 Karolina Pliskova has looked shaky. Madison Keys has been good, but it will be interesting to see who handles the nerves – both men and women – in the second week because this tournament is ready for the taking.
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