City Sports Report

2014 US Open Preview by Ricky Keeler

The absence of Rafael Nadal opens up the US 2014 US Open field (Photo by Marc Rasbury)

 

Today marks one of my favorite events on the sports calendar, the start of the US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. For the 2014 tournament, the men’s side will be without two quality names due to injury, making this one of the more wide-open Grand Slams in recent memory.

 

First off, last year’s champion, Rafael Nadal, will miss this year’s US Open due to a wrist injury. Nadal, the two-time US Open Champion, won the French Open earlier this year for the ninth time in his career and is the current number two player in the world. The other notable absentee is 25-year-old Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine, who is well known for his 2009 title win over Roger Federer, is also recovering from a wrist injury. That being said, the field still has its notable stars at the top, but the loss of these two players allow for this tournament to maybe introduce some new stars.

 

Let’s start with the favorites. The number one player in the world is Novak Djokovic. The Serbian superstar, the top seed in this year’s tournament, is coming off a Wimbledon title last month, but had a rough summer in the US Open series. He has a night match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina tonight, but his draw presents some potential tough challenges such as American John Isner in the Round of 16, Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga (who beat him in Cincinnati) or Andy Murray (2012 US Open champion) in the final eight. That being said, the Serb is known for his consistency in New York, having reached the quarterfinals in every year since 2008.

 

The other favorite on the men’s side is Federer. At this time a year ago, it became a question as to whether Federer could win another Slam after losing in the fourth round to Tommy Robredo, but he has had an excellent summer on both the grass and hard courts. The number three player in the world went to the finals at Wimbledon (lost to Djokovic), lost to Tsonga in the finals at Montreal, and beat David Ferrer in the final in Cincinnati.

 

Federer has won five US Opens in his career and has a pretty manageable draw. However, keep an eye on the number seven seed Gregor Dimitrov. The 23-year-old from Bulgaria has risen into the top 10 in the world and has made the quarterfinals in two of the three slams this year. It will be interesting to see if Dimitrov can make a deep run in this tournament and get his shot at the 17-time Grand Slam Champion in Federer.

 

Two players that are getting overlooked are Andy Murray and the number five seed, Canadian Milos Raonic, who is 23 years old and has one of the fastest serves in the game of tennis. He has made the fourth round in each of the last two US Opens and was a winner in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago at the Citi Open. Raonic made a big breakthrough in July when he made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon, before losing to Federer.

 

As for Murray, he is the number eight seed in this tournament, which calls for him to be somewhat of a darkhorse. He has been the definition of consistency this year, reaching the quarterfinals or better in all three Slams this season. Murray did get dominated by Dimitrov in a straight-set quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon to and lost in the quarters at Toronto and Cincy, but if Murray gets to the quarters with Djokovic, that should be a classic match.

 

Of course, we have to talk about the hopes on the men’s side for the Americans, who have had little success at the Slams in recent years and haven’t had a champion since Andy Roddick at the 2003 US Open. Once again, the hopes ride on the highest seeded American, John Isner, who as the number 13 seed, is recovering from an ankle injury that caused him to withdraw during this past week’s Winston-Salem Open.

 

He has had a rough year in the majors (highest finish was the fourth round at the French) and has only made it past the third round twice in his US Open career. However, the top players want no part of Isner when it comes to a tiebreak and his fast serve. This includes taking Murray to a final set tiebreak in Cincy before losing. He could get to play Djokovic in the Round of 16, but could potentially have to get by Phillip Kohlschreiber, the German who has knocked him out of the past two US Opens. Two other American men to keep an eye on for a surprise run to the second week are Jack Sock and Steve Johnson, two men that could be the future of American tennis.

 

Now, it’s time for my predictions from the fourth round on:

 

Fourth Round

 

  • (1) Novak Djokovic over (13) John Isner

 

  • (8) Andy Murray over (9) Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga

 

  • (3) Stanislas Wawrinka over (16) Tommy Robredo

 

  • (5) Milos Raonic over Jack Sock

 

  • (6) Tomas Berdych over (11) Ernests Gulbis

 

  • (4) David Ferrer over (14) Marin Cilic

 

  • (7) Gregor Dimitrov over (20) Gael Monfils

 

  • (2) Roger Federer over (17) Roberto Bautista-Agut

 

Quarterfinals

 

  • *UPSET – Murray over Djokovic – If Murray gets to this point, get ready for a classic five-setter!

 

  • Raonic over Robredo

 

  • Ferrer over Berdych

 

  • Federer over Dimitrov

 

Semifinals

 

  • Murray over Raonic

 

  • Federer over Ferrer

 

 

Championship Match

 

  • Federer over Murray in four sets – Federer is having a great summer and if my prediction holds true, mark number 18 for Fed and a sixth US Open title to boost his case for the greatest tennis player ever in this rematch of the 2008 US Open Final. By the way, these two players are 11-11 against each other.

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