US Open 2017: A. Zverev and Dimitrov’s Losses Further Scramble Men’s Draw

We entered the US Open knowing that last year’s male finalists, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, would be missing.  Novak Djokovic has won 8 majors on hard courts so his absence is felt particularly sharply.  Andy Murray also pulled out of the event at the 11th hour.  So the champions from 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016 would be missing.

Would the 2017 US Open lack great performances on the men’s side?

Everything seemed more or less okay though due to a rising star in Alexander “Sascha” Zverev and a talent in Dimitrov who might finally be realizing his potential to be a top-tier player.  They won Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinncati.  Zverev also took the crown at the Washington, DC event.  Nick Kygrios, another talent waiting for a big breakthrough, reached the final of the Cincinnati event.  Younger players seemed poised to challenge for the big trophy in NYC.  All three of these players failed to reach the 3rd round. I don’t want to diminish Zverev winning DC and Montreal in a 2 week stretch.  However, he won Rome and lost in the first round of Roland Garros.  He won DC and Canada and lost in the second round of the US Open.  Zverev has as many Masters shields in 2017 as any other player, but his play in the majors has been puzzlingly uneven.

Uneven

That may be the best word I have for describing the performances of a host of younger players trying to unseat the Oligopoly of 4 players that have been running the ATP Tour for a long time.  Zverev and Dimitrov looked great in pushing Nadal to 5 sets at the 2017 Australian Open.  Kyrgios generated an instant classic in Miami.  A great performance or two gets me thinking that one or several of these guys will start playing that way most weeks of the year.  Instead, losses come in unexpected places after showing promise.  Sooner or later, the younger waves will have their day (even if it comes through inheritance rather than through conquest).  Having said that, I need to learn to not expect the same overlap of regular tour victories with major victories.  We may be slowly moving toward an era in which momentum from one event to the next is not the norm.

Still, We Could See an Unexpected Champion in 2017

At the outset of this event, I was pretty confident that neither Federer nor Nadal would win the 2017 US Open.  I now think that if Nadal is healthy, he is the favorite for the big trophy.  Federer has looked shaky at best through two matches.  If I had to pick the next 5 most likely winners after Nadal, Federer is on that list, but so too are 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro (remember his Rio run), 2014 champion Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, and Lucas Pouille (a gut feeling informed by some eyes on the grounds).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s