Sunday, August 26, 2018

US Open Predictions: Rise (or Fall) of the "Big 3?"

Hi All. Galileo here.

This year marks 50 years since the US Open went professional. The women's winner in ‘68, Virginia Wade, won just 6,000 dollars. In today’s money that is less than 44 thousand. Arthur Ashe took out the singles, but he was still an amateur so the 14,000 dollars, worth today just over 100k, went to Tom Okker who was the runner-up. Ashe won his first match on a bye, then won nine sets in a row to make the quarterfinals. He won in four sets in the quarters and semis before edging Okker 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Here are some highlights. The first set held the record for the longest set in a men’s final in the open era for 41 years until Federer and Roddick broke it.

Wade swept to her title while losing just one set. She saw off Peaches Bartkowicz 10-8, 6-3 in the quarters, Ann Jones 7-5, 6-1 in the semi-final, and smacked top seed Billie Jean King 6-4, 6-2 to win. The ladies doubles is fascinating. There were just 16 pairs. Third seeds Bueno/Court swept to the final where they upset top seeded King and her partner Rosie Casals 4-6, 9-7, 8-6. That is one of the greatest ladies doubles matches ever played. That’s tennis lore. Ask Todd. He will tell you. I will get back to the present.

No draw has been released yet but you should watch out for the following four pairs in particular:

Krejcikova/Siniakova [1] - They're top seeds and are on track to win three slams in a row. Strangely they have been rather poor outside of the slams.
Klepac/Martinez Sanchez [6] – Totally unpredictable but they tend to be better on clay.
King/Srebotnik [11] - Srebotnik is 2-7 in US Open ladies doubles quarterfinals but she did go to the final in 2006. She went there with Dinara Safina but lost in a tight final to Dechy/Zvonareva. If King wins her third round match she goes to the final. She got there from 2010-11, winning with Yaroslava Shvedova.

Klaasen/Venus [9] – You never know when they might just pull out a result from nowhere. Michael Venus lost in the final of the mixed doubles last year.
Bopanna/Roger-Vasselin[16] – They are unbeaten in finals, having won the only final in which they played together. They have been to three slam finals between them, going 1-2. Bopanna was a part of the Indopak Express which won many fans in 2010.
Lopez/Lopez [11] – No team is more dangerous.

1. RAFA NADAL ESP: The world’s top ranking is on the line but only if Roger Federer can win the title and Nadal loses before the semi-finals. Nadal needs to avoid longer matches in the opening rounds. He is the defending champion but you never know how he will do in New York. He shocked Novak Djokovic one year, in another he blew a two sets to love lead against Fabio Fognini. On one hand it’s good that he opens with David Ferrer because it means he can find his form and his compatriot should be just enough of a challenge. But if Ferru drags the match beyond the two and a half hour mark Nadal begins to lose. He needs to win quickly. A long, drawn out match in the opening round could really hurt down the line. With rain forecast for the end of the week he can’t get bogged down. After that it really does get easier. Karen Khachanov looms but the 27th seed probably can’t hurt Nadal over five. It’ll be Jack Sock or Kyle Edmund in the fourth round. That’s a fairly nice draw.
2. KEVIN ANDERSON RSA:The South African has been a breath of fresh air with an old-fashioned style of game. He will have to serve his way through Ryan Harrison, Denis Shapovalov and then possibly Dominic Thiem. He is capable of that. Beating Rafa in their slated quarterfinal is a different prospect, however. His game suits the hard-courts in New York and he has bucketloads of confidence after a great summer across two different surfaces. His serve is a gorgeous weapon- it sometimes looks as if it isn’t very diverse but it is in fact varied. He could play Sam Querrey in the third round. That one would definitely involve tiebreakers.
3. DENIS SHAPOVALOV CAN: If he was only in the third quarter of this quarter he would probably make the fourth round. Alas he will have to go through Anderson and right now the Giant will not be so easily slain. If Anderson falters or the youngster can upset him he can probably find his way to the quarter-finals. He will have to deal with Sam Querrey in round two but he is capable.
DARK HORSE: GILLES MULLER LUX... He has been to the quarters here, back in 2008, and he knows how to beat Nadal over five sets. Nadal doesn’t like playing lefties, especially ones who can hit with power. If Nadal played him in the third round it might not be an upset but it could certainly get uncomfortable. If he can get past the top seed the semi-finals are there for him.
WILD HORSE: JACK SOCK USA... Always a popular pick to win a slam. Doesn’t look like it'll ever happen. His best shot is here or in Paris. He could go on a run here.
DONKEY: DOMINIC THIEM AUT... We aren’t on clay. He has to prove he can do anything off it. He has the talent to take over the tour but he cannot seem to put all that potential into results.
R1 MATCH TO WATCH: Mischa Zverev vs. Taylor Fritz

=In the End...=
Nadal is here. If he gets injured chaos will ensue. He has been given a cupcake. Expect him to respond accordingly.


1. JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO ARG: Juan Martin, if fit, is probably one of the three favourites. He could have to deal with Andy Murray in the third round. Stefanos Tsitsipas is also here. The good news is that Dimitrov is seeded to face him in the quarters. The Bulgarian is out of form and a likely candidate to go down early. Honestly his opponents are irrelevant. The tournament is on his racket. If his serve and forehand are cooking he will go far. He is one of the few, perhaps the only, guy who can take his opponent out of the equation. He has the power, the game and the experience to play a match entirely on his terms.
2. JOHN ISNER USA: This BACKSPINNER rarely shows any faith. One great result does not change a career of failures. That being said, Isner does have good results here in the past and is coming off his best year so far. He has a great serve and home crowd support. He has a very soft section. His backhand is an underrated weapon when it is really on and firing.
3. STEFANOS TSITSIPAS GRE: If Delpo’s wrist is playing up then the Greek could be in with a real shot at making the semi-finals.
DARK HORSE: MILOS RAONIC CAN... He usually plays about four tournaments a year where he is fully healthy and he does really well. If he is fully fit he will be making an impact here. His path of Jared Donaldson, Stan Wawrinka/Grigor Dimitrov and then John Isner is brutal. But if he can get hot.
WILD HORSE: STAN WAWRINKA SUI... If he can get past Dimitrov in the first round he is probably going all the way to the quarterfinals. The Swiss is one of two former champions given a wild card, along with Svetlana Kuznetsova. Winning three or more matches here would make his comeback complete, or at least taking a big step towards that goal.
DONKEY: GRIGOR DIMITROV BUL... During the offseason he needs to find a new philosophy and new motivation. Right now he is a total non-factor. It isn’t good enough for a man with his talents.

=In the End...=
Wawrinka does surprise but Delpo is too good. The Argentinian star has a real shot to take a second major here. Nadal’s health is iffy. Nole could still crash out. Federer is starting to look old. If the wrist can hold, couldn’t Delpo do well?


1. MARIN CILIC CRO: In the last two US Opens he has lost in the third round, to 26th seeded Jack Sock in 2016 and 29th seeded Diego Schwartzman in 2017. He lost in the second round of Wimbledon, losing to Guido Pella from two sets up. He was seeded third there. He is totally inconsistent but he is a former champion. He has won Queens this year and lost in the final in Melbourne. A 12-6 mark at Masters level is solid too. Nobody else in this quarter has won a slam in singles. He opens with Marius Copil before playing a qualifier, then probably Mannarino. After that he plays David Goffin and then Alex Zverev. He could make another run to the title here. His forehand is looking good, and he is at his best slam. The fans here know him and he shouldn’t have any press conferences where nobody turns up.
2. ALEX ZVEREV GER: Did he break his slam hoodoo in Paris? Has he managed to fix what ailed him? He could be very good or very bad here. He is 19-6 in matches at Masters, 3-2 in finals, 8-3 at slam level and there is nobody he will fear playing. But this does come with a disclaimer. At the US Open he is 2-3 lifetime. Last year he lost in four to Borna Coric in round two. Much like the Elina Svitolina pick in the ladies draw I don’t like picking him to do well but he has to make a deep run eventually. Why can’t it come here? The serve is looking in fine fettle and the backhand is as vicious as ever. Peter Polansky and Jiri Vesely will be good warm-ups. Filip Krajinovic, seeded 32, or Philipp Kohlschreiber will be his third round opponent. Then he has to get through Diego Schwartzman, who beat him 6-0, 6-1 the only time they played, back in 2014. And after that it will be Cilic.

3. DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN ARG: This quarter comes down to three names. Schwartzman is one of them. He is seeded 13th but he has cracked the formula of how to consistently make the fourth round and quarterfinals of slams. He will do so again here and he made the quarters last year as well. He is 1-0 in finals this year but 8-3 at slam level.
DARK HORSE: DAVID GOFFIN BEL... Goffin is hurt but playing with house money. Italian qualifier Federico Gaio is his first opponent. Robin Haase and Marco Cecchinato are probably next. He will make the fourth round. Once he gets there he is only two wins from a semi-final spot.
WILD HORSE: GAEL MONFILS FRA... As if this needs any explanation.
DONKEY: KEI NISHIKORI JPN... The Japanese man is seeded 21st. He has looked good in patches over the summer but now comes the litmus test. He is in a manageable part of the draw. Can he take advantage?

=In the End...=
The seeds will fall correctly. But in the quarterfinals Cilic gets by Zverev using his superior experience and big flat forehand. Schwartzman has a great chance to beat the German but I just can’t quite pull the trigger on the upset.


1. NOVAK DJOKOVIC SRB: We already know about the top two guys in this quarter. Djokovic could play Marton Fucsovics, Viktor Troicki and Richard Gasquet. Then he gets Pablo Carrena Busta or Lucas Pouille. After that it’s Federer. Nole has shown better form so he is top.
2. ROGER FEDERER SUI: Looking to win three slams six times, and be the first to achieve that, he opens with Yoshihito Nishioka, and will play Benoit Paire, Nick Kyrgios and Fabio Fognini. How's that for disfunctiontastic?
3. HYEON CHUNG KOR: Whenever he has actually played in an event he has done well. But he has barely played at all. The last time he played a slam he made the semi-finals. This quarter comes down to Nole and Roger. There is no third player.
DARK HORSE: NICK KYRGIOS AUS... Does this need any explanation?
WILD HORSE: BENOIT PAIRE/FABIO FOGNINI... See above. This is as self-explanatory as it gets.
DONKEY: PABLO CARRENO BUSTA ESP... He's been so quiet lately. It’s just hard to know if he will be any good. If he crashed out would anybody notice?

=In the End...=
Federer and Djokovic is a coin flip.




If Del Potro can get cooking this will finally be the slam he breaks past the top four again.

Go to WTABACKSPIN they have pizza bagels.

I'll be seeing you all soon and far too frequently for your liking.


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