The final Grand Slam event of the year begins in New York tomorrow but the US Open will be without the defending champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has not played since Wimbledon due to injury which leaves top seed Novak Djokovic as the favourite going into the event.
Check out the Full Draw: US Open 2014 Men’s Draw
Quarter 1 (Djokovic-Murray)
If the draw goes as projected, the quarter final in the top quarter of the draw will be a rematch of the 2012 final which Andy Murray won in straight sets. However, given the recent form of both players – especially Murray this is far from guaranteed. Djokovic did of course win Wimbledon but has been far from his imperious self on hard courts with losses to Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Tommy Robredo recently. The first week should be no problem for him with 5ft7 Diego Schwartzmann up first round and then probably Gilles Muller. Sam Querrey finally strung some wins together in Winston Salem but has the tendency to melt under pressure. Another to perform well in Winston Salem was Yen-Hsun Lu, who made the semi final and is a good choice to knock off a seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round one.
John Isner is someone who has troubled Djokovic on North American hard courts before, with a win in both 2012 and 2013. However, both of those came in 3 set matches and Isner will always remain a question mark when it comes to the longer format. This shows in his head to head with possible third round opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German won memorable matches in both of the last two US Opens but has lost all 4 best-of-3 matches against the 13th seed. Michael Llodra looks an odd choice on paper for the French wildcard but given the veteran will be retiring at the end of the year, it is almost a thank you for his service.
J0-Wilfried Tsonga‘s win in Toronto was a rare non-Big 4 victory at a Masters 1000 event and he did it some style by beating three them on his way to the title. It suggests the Frenchman is back to his best after struggling since his return from injury and he will be looking to take advantage of the struggles of Andy Murray. Murray held a 3-0 final set lead in their match in Toronto before losing the match to continue the disappointing losses in the past year or so. Despite that, he has a draw that should allow him to ease through to round four before likely meeting Tsonga. Robin Haase troubled Murray in an infamous meeting a few years back but shouldn’t pose so much trouble this time round. Fernando Verdasco is just 2-10 against Murray although they haven’t played on hard courts since 2009.
Tsonga will begin against an opponent he is 4-0 against – Juan Monaco. James McGee or Aleksandr Nedovyesov looks a very comfortable round two match on paper. In qualifying for the tournament, McGee will make his first grand slam main draw appearance – a big moment for the 27 year old Irishman. With an opponent that is far more at home on clay, he will also have a chance to spring a shock and earn a big court appearance (and payday) should Tsonga also hold up his end of the bargain. Round three could be an all French affair with Benoit Paire and Julien Benneteau the most likely suspects to progress.
Novak Djokovic defeats Andy Murray
Quarter 2 (Wawrinka-Raonic)
Milos Raonic continues to show great improvement and has an excellent chance of making his second straight slam semi final by managing to avoid Djokovic and Federer. Stan Wawrinka is slated to make it through but losses to Kevin Anderson and Julien Benneteau in recent weeks do very little to inspire – especially in the latter where he won just three games in the final two sets. Luckily for Wawrinka, the early rounds would appear to offer very little threat on paper. A revitalised Donald Young could trouble him for a set or two with home support behind but a repeat of the 2011 5th set tiebreak win over the Swiss is improbable.
Tommy Robredo will hope to pick up a shock win against a Swiss player for the second year running after beating Roger Federer last year and he comes into it with a recent win over the world’s best hard court player. The 16th seed will open against Edouard Roger-Vasselin with Washington runner up Vasek Pospisil a possibility in round two. Nick Kyrgios remains a dangerous sleeper but will have to be ready from the outset with 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny his first round opponent.
Raonic would have had a hard time picking a kinder draw for himself. He faces qualifier Taro Daniel in round one and may well face a second in the next round. 29th seed Lukas Rosol comes into the tournament with the Winston Salem title but Raonic should have few problems if the Czech isn’t truly on. The seeds in the other part of his section are Leonardo Mayer, who is poor on hard courts, and Kei Nishikori. The Japanese continues to have injury problems and there are question marks over whether he is ready to compete this fortnight. Even so, Raonic won in 4 sets when they met at Wimbledon. The rest of this section of the draw is scattered with journeymen aside from Jack Sock, who has already suffered a number of losses to Raonic this year.
Milos Raonic defeats Stanislas Wawrinka
Quarter 3 (Ferrer-Berdych)
The David Ferrer section of draws often seemed the most unpredictable only for the Spaniard to fight his way through and live up to his seeding on most occasions. That is why his loss to Andrey Kuznetsov at Wimbledon was so surprising but post-Wimbledon he has found form with two finals in Hamburg and Cincinnati although both were lost in three sets. Arguably, Ferrer should have beat Federer but in the end the lopsided head to head was extended further. This quarter of the draw throws up some of the younger more unpredictable players for Ferrer to deal with – which he often does so. Looking unmotivated for a while now, Bernard Tomic finally found some form once he lost his IMG deal and Nick Kyrgios emerged as the new golden boy of Australian tennis. He promptly won Bogota 250 to ensure the Australian wildcard would be his. A grinding affair with Gilles Simon looks the most likely round three though with young wildcard Noah Rubin not ready to make an impact on the big stage.
Big serving Kevin Anderson will always be trouble with the fifth set tiebreaker a potential advantage if matches get that far while Jerzy Janowicz ended a long run of bad form with a final at Winston Salem although with 3 break points at 5-5 in the second and two match points in the third he will be disappointed to have not made it all the way. However, it is good progress for the Pole who has struggled to live up to his early displays at Paris and Wimbledon. Marin Cilic suffered defeats against Swiss players in his last two tournaments and may play one in round two although Marco Chiudinelli is far less scary a prospect than the top two.
Tomas Berdych won the last two meetings against Ferrer including a four set victory in Australia this year. If he wants to have a chance to make it three, he will have to avoid a first round grand slam loss for the first time since 2006. Lleyton Hewitt stands in the way of ending this record and looks the most troublesome of the early round opponents for the Czech. Qualifiers Steve Darcis and Alexander Kudryatsev have played themselves into form but shouldn’t be a problem if Berdych faces them. Ernests Gulbis is projected to meet him in round four and was one of those players to inflict a round one loss on Berdych – at Wimbledon 2012. The Latvian has gone 2-2 post-Wimbledon and one of those losses was to Steve Johnson, whom he could face in round three if the American can make his way past 19th seed Feliciano Lopez.
Tomas Berdych defeats Marin Cilic
Quarter 4 (Federer-Dimitrov)
After a 2013 that saw many proclaim Roger Federer done at the highest level, he could quite possibly make a second straight grand slam final. Federer is obviously the biggest beneficiary of Nadal’s withdrawal after being bumped up the number two seed. It looks a cakewalk to the quarter finals for him with Roberto Bautista-Agut probably the toughest opponent he can face on his way there. Marinko Matosevic only just ended a long grand slam losing streak while big servers Samuel Groth and Ivo Karlovic are opponents Federer will toy with on almost every occasion.
Fabio Fognini is the second highest seed in the section but his hard court form remains scratchy. He put it in an embarrassing performance in his last match against Milos Raonic, winning just one game against the Canadian. Bautista-Agut beat Fognini on clay a few months back and should fancy his chances to do the same on hard courts.
If all goes to plan, the quarter final here should be one between two players with a one-handed backhand. Grigor Dimitrov as 7th seed is slated to do so and a marquee quarter final between the two would be sure to attract viewers. It has been noted several times this week in reference to his chances that he is yet to win a match at the US Open but given his vast improvement at time spent at the highest level, it seems irrelevant to how he will do in 2014. Wildcard Ryan Harrison and Carlos Berlocq/Dudi Sela are easy openers while the in-form David Goffin seems the first legit threat. The Belgian saw his winning the streak finally end at 25 in Winston Salem but will have plenty of confidence going into a likely second round with 32 seed Joao Sousa.
If not Dimitrov, then last year’s semi finalist Richard Gasquet will look to fill that void. A match up with two players tipped to be the next Federer will be pleasing on the eye if both make it that far although Gasquet’s path is made tougher by the appearance of Gael Monfils in the third round.
Roger Federer defeats Grigor Dimitrov
SF: Novak Djokovic defeats Milos Raonic
SF: Roger Federer defeats Tomas Berdych
F: Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer