US Open 2016: August 31st Men’s Singles Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Jiri Vesely (CZE) – I think Novak will win and look better than he did versus the bomb serving/drop shot happy Jerzy Janowicz.

[4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA) – Seppi should produce some fun rallies with Seppi.  Still, Rafa will likely win.

Louis Armstrong Stadium

[20] John Isner (USA) vs [Q] Steve Darcis (BEL) – Isner’s serve should be enough to pull through this match.

[26] Jack Sock (USA) vs [Q] Mischa Zverev (GER) – Sock is almost an underdog in this match as far as I can tell.  Perhaps Sock’s good vibes from Rio will propel him to some increased singles success, but Zverev has power to spare.

Grandstand

[23] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Vasek Pospisil (CAN) – I would not expect a lot of subtlety in this match.

[5] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs [Q] Ryan Harrison (USA) – Harrison used to draw top 5 seeds in the first round.  This is progress I guess.

Court 5

[18] Pablo Cuevas (URU) vs Nicolas Almagro (ESP) – A fun match with good rallies should be the result.

[7] Marin Cilic vs Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) – I like Marin’s chances here.

Court 11

[31] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) – This is a tough call.  I will go with the seeded player in a 50-50 type match.

Court 12

Guido Pella (ARG) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) – A Youzhny renaissance?

Court 13

Ernesto Escobedo (USA) vs. Kyle Edmund (GBR) – I tend to get Edmund’s matches wrong.

[15] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs Federico Delbonis (ARG) – La Guerra Civil de Buenos Aires?

Court 17

[9] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. [WC] James Duckworth (AUS) – Jo-Wilfried should win.

[10] Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. [Q] Jan Satral (CZE) – I think Gael wins this match and sets up some big matches down the road.

P6/Old Grandstand

[32] Benoit Paire (FRA)  vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) – If Baghdatis keeps this match to ball striking and hands, I think he wins.

[24] Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs. [Q] Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) – I think Pouille wins fairly easily, but my gut says this could be closer than my head thinks it will be.

US Open 2016: August 31st Women’s Singles Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[14] Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR) – I think Petra is good for this round as well.

[9] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) – Which career would you prefer?  Kuznetsova has won 2 majors in singles while Wozniacki spent many weeks ranked #1 with no major titles.  I’d pick Kuznetsova’s career.  I am also picking her to win a fun match.

[3] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) vs Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)  Muguruza has a good opportunity to put some spotty post-Roland Garros play behind her.

[7] Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Christina McHale (USA) – So long as Vinci’s variety doesn’t throw McHale off too much, I think this is a very attainable win for McHale.

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) – Lucic-Baroni has driven Halep crazy at times.  The veteran will need to pressure Kerber’s serve to make this a match.  This seems doable so I expect a close 2 or 3 set battle, but I still like Kerber.

Shelby Rogers (USA) vs. [Q] Catherine Bellis (USA)

[8] Madison Keys (USA) vs. [WC] Kayla Day (USA) – Keys will need to be sharp, but she should advance.

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) vs. Carina Witthoeft (GER)

[12] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) vs Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) – Cibulkova’s tenacious play should result in a solid US Open run.

Monica Niculescu (ROU) vs. [Q] Ana Bogdan (ROU) – The battle of Romania

Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) vs. [Q] Yafan Wang (CHN)

[13] Johanna Konta (GBR) vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) – I think Pironkova will make this a match, but Konta is a player who could sneak into the final 8 or final 4 even.

Saisai Zheng (CHN) vs. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)

[24] Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs Andrea Petkovic (GER) – This will be a fun match.  If I had tickets, I would find a good seat and enjoy.

[22] Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs Lauren Davis (USA)

[Q] Ying-Ying Duan (CHN) vs. [Q] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 

US Open 2016: August 30th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] – This is a terrible first round draw for both players.  I think Stan wins, but this could easily go the other way.

Lukas Rosol (CZE) vs. Andy Murray (GBR) [2] – Does everyone hate Lukas?  Murray seems to.

Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) vs. Sam Querrey (USA) [29] – Both men have returned from a lot of injuries.  I think Sam wins based on being a bit healthier in 2016.

Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) – Can JMDP recapture Rio’s magic?

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [6] vs. Benjamin Becker (GER) – Becker biggest win came versus Andre Agassi in 2006.  Great for Becker to still be out there, but I don’t think he can win this match unless Kei is injured.

Steve Johnson (USA) [19] vs. Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) – The new US #1 gets a win.

Jared Donaldson (USA) vs. David Goffin (BEL) [12] 

Donald Young (USA) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) – Donald Young is not yet at Jay Berger status, but he should win another US Open match.

Alexander Zverev (GER) [27] vs. Daniel Brands (GER)

Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [16] vs. Borna Coric (CRO) – Coric may make enough returns and passing shots to pull the upset.

Damir Dzumhur (BIH) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS) [17]

Nick Kyrgios (AUS) [14] vs. Aljaz Bedene (GBR)

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [25] – This match should be a fun throwback.

Dominic Thiem (AUT) [8] vs. John Millman (AUS)

Daniel Evans (GBR) vs. Rajeev Ram (USA)

Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. Juan Monaco (ARG) – This should feature a lot of fun rallies.

Michael Mmoh (USA) vs. Jeremy Chardy (FRA)

Christian Harrison (USA) vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) – One more time from the veteran?

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs. Ilya Ivashka (BLR) – Busta should have some momentum.

Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM) vs. Joao Sousa (POR)

Ivo Karlovic (CRO) [21] vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) – Over/under on tiebreak sets?  Also, I always get Lu wrong in early rounds.

Ivan Dodig (CRO) vs. Illya Marchenko (UKR)

Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA) – Which Fabio shows up?

Ricardas Berankis (LTU) vs. Malek Jaziri (TUN) – This is not likely to be a thing of beauty, but either player could win.

Inigo Cervantes (ESP) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [22] – Grigor showed some signs of life in Cincinnati.

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) vs. David Ferrer (ESP) [11] – What does Ferrer have left in the tank? vs. What will Dolgopolov do on any single shot?

Denis Kudla (USA) vs. Alessandro Giannessi (ITA)

Gilles Simon (FRA) [30] vs. Radek Stepanek (CZE) – Simon will need to play sharp tennis to beat the worm.

Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs. Radu Albot (MDA)

Carlos Berlocq (ARG) vs. Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)

Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs. Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 

Horacio Zeballos (ARG) vs. Florian Mayer (GER)

US Open 2016: August 30th Women’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. Simona Halep (ROU) [5] – Flipkens is a solid player, but Halep should advance.

Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) vs. Venus Williams (USA) [6] – Venus is hard to predict in singles at this stage of her career, but I would think she should win.

I was 1 year out of undergraduate studies when Serena won this match

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) – This is a lousy draw for Makarova and not great for Serena either.  I think Serena wins, but Makarova is a player with legitimate quarterfinal potential who is facing the #1 seed out of the gate.  Makarova also won gold in doubles, and doubles players troubled Serena in NY last year.

Denisa Allertova (CZE) vs. Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [29] – Ivanovic has been struggling.  She may win this round, but barring improvement in her form Ana won’t be around too long.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [4] vs. Jessica Pegula (USA) – Aga just won a title.

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) – Maybe?

Louisa Chirico (USA) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [17]

Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs. Caroline Garcia (FRA) [25]

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [10] vs. Sofia Kenin (USA) – Can Pliskova play like she did in Cincinnati?

Kurumi Nara (JPN) vs. Stefanie Voegele (SUI)

Nao Hibino (JPN) vs. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)

Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs. Daria Gavrilova (AUS) – This is a tough draw for both players.  Safarova’s recent singles results have not been setting the world on fire, but I think her experience makes the difference.

Camila Giorgi (ITA) vs. Samantha Stosur (AUS) [16]

Heather Watson (GBR) vs. Richel Hogenkamp (NED)

Naomi Broady (GBR) vs. Laura Robson (GBR) – How healthy is Robson?

Anett Kontaveit (EST) vs. Elena Vesnina (RUS) [19]

Mariana Duque-Mariño (COL) vs. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) – JJ could win this match.

Nicole Gibbs (USA) vs. Aleksandra Krunic (SRB)

Julia Goerges (GER) vs. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)

Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) vs. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) [15] – Bacsinszky FTW

Montserrat Gonzalez (PAR) vs. Danka Kovinic (MNE)

Timea Babos (HUN) [31] vs. Barbara Haas (AUT)

Karin Knapp (ITA) vs. Johanna Larsson (SWE) – Does Knapp have enough steam to win this match?

Daria Kasatkina (RUS) [23] vs. Qiang Wang (CHN)

Shuai Zhang (CHN) vs. Ellen Perez (AUS)

Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) [11] vs. Teliana Pereira (BRA) – Fear the backhand?

Antonia Lottner (GER) vs. Vania King (USA)

Kiki Bertens (NED) [20] vs. Ana Konjuh (CRO)

Shuai Peng (CHN) vs. Varvara Lepchenko (USA)

Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)

Laura Siegemund (GER) [26] vs. Patricia Maria Tig (ROU)

Annika Beck (GER) vs. Nadia Podoroska (ARG) – Can these other Germans join in Kerber’s 2016 fun?

US Open 2016: The Big 4 Minus 1 Should Not Be Discounted

This Article – http://nypost.com/2016/08/29/this-us-open-may-be-the-last-gasp-of-mens-tennis-big-four/ made me think a little.

From 2004-2016, the Big 4 has won 3 or more majors every year except for 2014 (Cilic and Wawrinka broke through).  In 2016, all 3 majors to this point have been won by members of the Big 4.  Novak Djokovic has won 4 Masters 1000 events, and Andy Murray has added a gold medal to this haul.  The gold medal in 2008, 2012, and 2016 was won by a member of the big four with a bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012 going to other big 4 members.  Sure Federer didn’t win a medal in 2004, but there was no big 4 in 2004.  Even with no big 4, Federer won 3 of 4 majors in 2004.

Of course Federer is older and injuries seem to be impacting his career for the first time. Rafael Nadal has missed big tournaments due to injuries since 2006.  Novak Djokovic may have some injury concerns entering this US Open, but he did win Toronto.  The dominance of the Big 4 will be coming to an end at some point, but to peg that decline to 2016 when Djokovic and Murray have more or less won everything of note except for Monte Carlo (Nadal took that!) and Cincinnati (Cilic) seems premature at best.

US Open 2016: August 29th Men’s Predictions

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB) – I could see Istomin push this to 4 sets, but Rafa likely wins in 3 or 4 sets.

Could this happen again?

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) – Jerzy looked so promising in 2012 and 2013.

[7] Marin Cilic (CRO) vs Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) – Cilic conquered Cincinnati and is 12-1 in his past two US Opens.

[26] Jack Sock (USA) vs. Taylor Fritz (USA) –  Jack Sock should win this match, but it is far from a lock.

[20] John Isner (USA) vs. [WC] Frances Tiafoe (USA) – Isner has been a bit out of sorts this summer, but I think she wins this match.

[9] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. [Q] Guido Andreozzi (ARG)

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)

[18] Pablo Cuevas (URU) vs Dudi Sela (ISR)

[13] Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs Kyle Edmund (GBR) – I am not sure if Gasquet is healthy.

[PR] Brian Baker (USA) vs. Federico Delbonis (ARG) – I may be picking with my heart more than my head here, but Baker could win this match.

Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs. Facundo Bagnis (ARG) – Baghdatis needs to not let this become a war of attrition.

[24] Lucas Pouille (FRA) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) – This could go either way.

Lukas Lacko (SVK) vs. [WC] Ernesto Escobedo (USA)

[15] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)  – If I had a ticket, I would park myself next to this match.  This could be 5 sets of great rallies.

Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) vs. Gastao Elias (POR)

[Q] Mischa Zverev (GER) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)

[31] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs [PR] Julien Benneteau (FRA)

Jiri Vesely (CZE) vs. [Q] Saketh Myneni (IND)

[WC] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) vs. Guido Pella (ARG) – Tennis is better off with a Bjorn in it.

[Q] Jan Satral (CZE) vs. [WC] Mackenzie McDonald (USA)

[32] Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. Dusan Lajovic (SRB)

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs. [Q] Ryan Harrison (USA) – Harrison has a shot to win this match.

[23] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)

[WC] James Duckworth (AUS) vs. Robin Haase (NED) – I have no idea on this match.  Haase seems past his prime, but I can’t pick Duckworth.

[28] Martin Klizan (SVK) vs Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) – I am slightly leaning toward Youzhny here.

Stéphane Robert (FRA) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA) – This should be a fun match that could go either way.

[Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs. Nicolas Almagro (ESP) – Can Almagro rediscover his firepower?

[Q] Guilherme Clezar (BRA) vs. [Q] Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

[10] Gael Monfils (FRA) s. Gilles Muller (LUX) – I like Gael here, but this is a terrible draw for both players who have had nice 2016 seasons.

[5] Milos Raonic (CAN) vs Dustin Brown (GER)  – This should be a fun match, but Milos really should win.

Jordan Thompson (AUS) vs. [Q] Steve Darcis (BEL)

Vasek Pospisil (CAN) vs. [LL] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) – If the lucky loser can return a few big serves, he will find himself in the 2nd round of a major.

US Open 2016: August 29th Women’s Predictions

 

Predicted Winners in BOLD

[7] Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) – I do not see a repeat trip to the championship match, but Vinci should win this match.

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Polona Hercog (SLO) – Kerber got some much needed rest this past week.

[8] Madison Keys (USA) vs. Alison Riske (USA) – This could be the match of the day.  Riske is a tough competitor who will make Keys earn a victory.  Keys should win, but her near misses in Montreal and Rio may weigh heavy psychologically.  If Keys is not ready to battle, she will lose.  I think Keys will be ready and win a fun match.

[9] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs Francesca Schiavone (ITA) – These two have combined for 3 majors in singles.

[3] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) vs [Q] Elise Mertens (BEL) – Muguruuza is one of my favorite players, but her semifinal non-effort in Cincinnati does not inspire me with confidence.

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] Taylor Townsend (USA) – Townsend is match tough, and Wozniacki has had an awful year.

[13] Johanna Konta (GBR) vs. [WC] Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) – This is an unfortunate draw for both players, but I think Konta has to be favored.

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) vs. Sabine Lisicki (GER) – Lisicki’s serve should give her an edge. Will it be enough though?

Madison Brengle (USA) vs. [WC] Kayla Day (USA) – Bad day?

Alizé Cornet (FRA) vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) – This match … ML-B is a great story and has had good results in her 2nd career.  Cornet is talented and a but nuts.  I watched Cornet from the front row in Cincinnati.  I am taking her talent so long as her serve and nerve do not go on holiday.

[18] Barbora Strycova (CZE) vs. Monica Niculescu (ROU) – My first upset pick?

Andrea Petkovic (GER) vs. [Q] Kristina Kucova (SVK)

[Q] Catherine Bellis (USA) vs. Viktorija Golubic (SUI) – She is match tough and playing in NY.

[Q] Maria Sakkari (GRE) vs. [Q] Ying-Ying Duan (CHN)

Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) vs. [WC] Virginie Razzano (FRA) – This is a tough call, but Pirokova had some nice results in Cincinnati.

Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)

Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) vs. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)

[Q] Yafan Wang (CHN) vs. [LL] Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL)

[WC] Danielle Collins (USA) vs. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS)

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Mona Barthel (GER) – McHale can do damage in NY if her draw breaks the right way.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) vs. [WC] Lauren Davis (USA)

[14] Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) – I am barely taking Kvitova to win here.  She has the talent to go far, but she is also unpredictable and prone to health issues.

[27] Sara Errani (ITA) vs. Shelby Rogers (USA)

[30] Misaki Doi (JPN) vs Carina Witthoeft (GER)

[28] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs Naomi Osaka (JPN)

[21] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs. Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) – I am bullish on Romania.

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) vs. [Q] Ana Bogdan (ROU) – Cirstea played well against Cornet in Cincinnati.  I am not sure what the Romanian Civil War dynamic will be, but I think Cirstea is favored.

Irina Falconi (USA) vs. Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR)

[24] Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs Samantha Crawford (USA)

[12] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) vs Magda Linette (POL) – Could Cibulkova be an unexpected semifinalist?

[32] Monica Puig (PUR) vs. Saisai Zheng (CHN) – Barring a major letdown from Rio, Puig is likely to win this match.

[22] Elina Svitolina (UKR) vs [Q] Mandy Minella (LUX) – Svitolina should advance.

US Open 2016: My 5 Favorite Men’s US Opens

Tournaments can take on a personality of their own based on the draw and actual matches that unfold.  5 US Opens stand out for me.  I vaguely remember Connors v. McEnroe in the 1984 US Open semifinal, but I don’t remember an impression of an entire tournament prior to the 1986 US Open (Mecir beating Becker took a toll on me).

5.  US Open 1992 – The Sequel that Surpassed the Original

The 1991 US Open still reverberates in tennis due to Jimmy Connors’ improbable semifinal run.  Outside of that story, the 1991 US Open featured Stefan Edberg administering straight set beatings to Michael Chang (rd of 16), Ivan Lendl (semifinal round), and Jim Courier (championship match).  Edberg played awesome net attacking tennis to disarm and demoralize three players with great passing shots.  Boris Becker, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi all lost early in 1991.  It was the Connors show (and what a show it was), but does that make it a great tournament overall?

1992 had it all.  Jimmy Connors won a 1st round match on his 40th birthday.  He then proceeded to lose a 4 set match to Ivan Lendl and insult Lendl after the match for “bunting” the ball.  Lendl won his first grand slam match over Boris Becker by taking a 5 set round of 16 tilt.  Lendl then came from 2 sets down to lead Edberg by a break of serve in the 5th only to lose a 5th set tiebreak.  Edberg went 5 sets with Richard Krajicek, Lendl, and Chang in succession to reach the US Open final.  Jim Courier won a street fight quarterfinal match with Andre Agassi.  Courier then lost in 4 sets in the semifinal to Pete Sampras. Sampras won the first set versus Edberg before Edberg rebounded to take the next 3 and the title.

1992 had great matches and storylines.  Michael Chang’s 5 set wins over Mal Washington and Wayne Ferreira barely get mentioned.  However, every round seemed to have matches of consequence that were played at a high level.  Sampras’ credits his 1992 loss to Edberg for bringing an increased determination to future major events.

4.  US Open 1988 – Mats Dethroned Ivan

This event had some nice subplots.  Andre Agassi beat Jimmy Connors in the quarterfinal round leading to a changing of the guard at the top of US tennis as well as a contentious press conference.  Agassi found out that his strength and fitness needed to improve when he lost in 4 sets to Ivan Lendl in the semifinal round.

Mats Wilander won the 1988 Australian and French Open titles.  He entered the US Open looking for the #1 ranking as well as revenge for his 1987 loss to Lendl in the US Open final.  Ivan Lendl entered 1988 with Tennis Magazine wondering if anyone could stop Lendl. The two men staged an epic battle for number one that tested both stamina and mental fortitude.  Wilander approached the net often and dared Lendl to hit passing shots.  Wilander led each of the 5 sets by a break at one point, but lost the 2nd and 4th sets from ahead.  A tense final few games resulted in a new US Open champion and a new world number one.

3.  US Open 2004 – Federer was Sublime

Roger Federer began to consolidate his grip on men’s tennis with an undefeated run to the 2003 Masters Cup.  His 2004 Australian Open and Wimbledon titles plus Masters Series successes placed him firmly at number one.  Still, Andy Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, made the 2004 Wimbledon final competitive and expressed interest in a rematch in front of his fans.  The prospect of a Federer-Roddick final hovered over the first week of the event.

Oddly, it never happened and this US Open is still memorable.  Roger Federer won a two-day, rain and wind interrupted 5 set quarterfinal over Andre Agassi.  Federer then tamed Tim Henman in straight sets in the semifinal round despite having a poor head-to-head record versus Henman at the time.  Federer then crushed 2002 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 in the final.  These 3 wins set Federer up as the undisputed ruler of men’s tennis and were an example of the virtuoso tennis that he, Nadal, and Djokovic were about to unleash on the sport.

2.  US Open 1995 – The Battle for #1 Ended

Andre Agassi initiated a year-long battle for #1 with Pete Sampras when he took the 1994 US Open crown.  The two met in numerous big matches at majors and Super 9 events. Agassi generally got the better of Sampras in 1995 prior to this showdown. In order to reach the showdown, other battles had to be settled.  Andre Agassi won in 5 sets over an emerging Alex Corretja.  Agassi also won a street fight with Boris Becker in the semifinal round.  Jim Courier won in straight sets over 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster and in straight sets over Michael Chang to set up a semifinal with Pete Sampras.  Pete fended off a resurgent Courier in 4 sets to set up the battle for the title and the year.  Sampras dispatched Agassi in 4 sets to claim his second major of 1995 and send Agassi on walkabout.

1. US Open 2011 – Djokovic Rising

This event had it all.  It had a battle for supremacy on tour a la 1988 and 1995.  It had grudge matches like the 1992 US Open.  It had virtuoso tennis like the 2004 US Open. Novak Djokovic dominated nearly all of 2011.  His one major loss had come versus Roger Federer in Paris.  Novak found himself behind by 2 sets in his US Open semifinal with Federer.  Novak stormed back to take the 3rd and 4th sets, but he fell behind by a break of serve in the 5th set.  Djokovic saved a match point with a huge and risky swinging return winner.  That seemed to unnerve Federer who did not win another game the entire match.

Rafael Nadal had played excellent tennis in 2011, but was thwarted by Djokovic in the Wimbledon championship match as well as in 4 Masters 1000 finals.  Could Rafa make the 6th time the charm?  The two met in a titanic 4 set match.  The 3 sets Novak won were not exactly close, but Rafa was certainly pushing Novak to play at an unreal level.  Rafa found another gear in the 3rd set and battled back from behind multiple times to force a 4th set. This 3rd set was a preview of their 2012 Australian Open championship match.  I view that 2012 Australian Open final as the greatest match ever played (to this point).

US Open 2016: Quick Thoughts on the Men’s Draw

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter

The defending champion and number one seed received no favors with this draw.  Big hitters Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, and Kevin Anderson have at times pushed/troubled Novak Djokovic.  Jerzy Janowicz is not in Bercy 2012-Wimbledon 2013 form so the first round should not be a major issue.  Djokovic’s biggest obstacle is 2014 US Open champion and recent conqueror of Cincinnati Marin Cilic.  Both men are likely to reach the final 8, but the two most recent US Open men’s champions can at most only produce one semifinalist with this draw.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter

Rafael Nadal has absorbed losses to Juan Martin del Potro, Kei Nishikori, and Borna Coric in his latest return from injury.  Still, Rafa will likely benefit from the 3 of 5 set format as his experience in big matches becomes a larger factor at a major and in long matches. Nadal’s first 3 matches could all be tricky. 5th seed Milos Raonic played well enough in Toronto and Cincinnati to be considered a threat for the semifinal round.  However, his one-sided loss to Andy Murray in Cincinnati doesn’t inspire me with a lot of confidence. Raonic seems unlikely to have a bad loss, but also seems to need an extra gear for beating the top tier guys.  I do think Milos’ match with Dustin Brown aka Dreddy Tennis will be fun.  Gael Monfils has had a strong summer and could make his way to the final 16 or 8.  If Rafa were healthy and match tough, I’d probably take him to reach the semifinal round.  I think any of the players who reach the round of 16 in this draw have a good shot at the semis depending on their health and luck.  Roberto Bautista-Agut strikes me as someone to watch in this quarter.

1st Round: Shot making? Check. Power? Check. Take cover? Maybe.

Stan Wawrinka’s Quarter

Stan Wawrinka is historically much tougher in majors than in Masters 1000 events.  Still, his play has not made him a lock to advance deep in New York.  Stan also got an awful draw of Fernando Verdasco in the 1st round.  Dominic Thiem doesn’t seem like a likely quarterfinalist.  Players who have made some noise this summer such as Nick Kyrgios (Atlanta title), Juan Martin del Potro (silver medal), and Sam Querrey (Wimbledon quarterfinalist) may all benefit from Thiem’s hard court learning curve.  The weakness of this quarter plus the 3 of 5 set format all play to Wawrinka’s favor so long as he doesn’t get blinded by Hot Sauce in the first round.

Cilic is not in Murray’s quarter

Andy Murray’s Quarter

Andy Murray should reach the semifinal round.  He does face a heated rival in the first round in Lukas RosolMarcel Granollers could be tricky in the 2nd round, but the Scot should win even if he drops a set there.  Gilles Simon lacks the heft.  Borna Coric lacks the experience.  Ivo Karlovic just isn’t going to win 3 sets off of Murray.  David Goffin could be tricky.  Murray’s biggest edge is that seeding wise, Kei Nishikori is his biggest obstacle for the semifinal.  Kei could beat Stan or Rafa and could trouble Nole, but in Rio Murray clobbered Nishikori.

Predicted Semifinalists

Novak Djokovic vs. Gael Monfils

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Andy Murray vs. Stan Wawrinka