2015 US Open Men’s Draw Preview and Analysis with Predictions

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In the most unexpected grand slam final in recent years, Croatia’s Marin Cilic defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori to win the 2014 US Open.

The Men’s US Open draw is out! After days of speculation, the tennis world can finally see what potential roads the top seeds have to the final, and which underdogs have the opportunity to pull off an upset.

See the Full Draw Here: US Open 2015 Draw

At first glance, the 2015 U.S. Open men’s tournament would seem to be a two-man event. After this season, and this summer, it’s hard to realistically imagine anyone other than world No. 1 Novak Djokovic or world No. 2 Roger Federer holding up the winner’s trophy two weeks from now. But then, we might have thought something similar last year, and the two men who played for the title ended up being Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori (who beat Federer and Djokovic in the semifinals, respectively).

Thus the preludes leading to the final slam of this year had a lot to offer, which in turn raised the bar for the actual action at the US Open. Aided by the shuffling of the rankings which have been occurring throughout the course of the year, the men’s draw in Flushing Meadows has some blockbuster matches in the pipeline, starting right from the first round.

Can the Big 4 regain their hegemony in the BIG APPLE?

TOP HALF

 1st Quarter – (1) Novak Djokovic & (8) Rafael Nadal

On the one hand, Djokovic, despite making the semifinals or better at the last 8 US Opens, has won the title just once. While he has always loved the buzz inside Ashe Stadium, he hasn’t always loved the wind that swirls there. In each of the last three years, he has been caught and passed by a hot opponent—Andy Murray in 2012, Rafael Nadal in 2013, Nishikori in 2014—on the final weekend. On the other hand, Djokovic’s lone title came in 2011, a brilliant season much like the one he’s having this year. And that infamous wind in Ashe may not swirl the same way now that there’s a roof on top of the stadium. Whatever the conditions, these days it’s pretty much a given that Djokovic is going to be in the mix at the end of any tournament he enters.

As has become something of a tradition, ailing Rafa Nadal sees his probable draw the stiffest of any top player. And that’s before he reaches Djokovic. Of all the possible openers, he’s landed confident 18-year-old Borna Coric – who beat the Spaniard in straight sets late last year (Basel), while Nadal struggled with appendicitis. However, Rafa lived up to the task and eliminated Borna in four sets to set up a meeting against Diego Schwartzman in round two. He could then face his nemesis Fabio Fognini in the third round, and 10th seed Milos Raonic in the round of 16. Mardy Fish, contesting his final US Open, is also present here and got through to the second round after overcoming Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic kicked off in style against Joao Souza, and will face Andreas Haider-Maurer next, who defeated Wimbledon quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil in five sets. Notable names in Andreas Seppi and David Goffin also lurk further down the line (Janowicz and Andujar lost their first round matches yesterday).

Possible Dark-Horse: 18th seed Feliciano Lopez. On a run of good form, he starts against a qualifier and could beat either of Verdasco or Raonic in round three. As a bonus, he’s already taken down potential fourth round opponent Rafa this month.

Expected QF: (1) Novak Djokovic d. (8) Rafael Nadal – Although Rafa’s had the better of Novak in New York (2-1; 3 finals – 2010, 2011 2013), Novak’s won the last 6 of the 7 they have played since the 2013 US Open final. Expect Rafa to put up a valiant fight (Rafa is 20-1 in NY since 2010) but Novak’s in a different league at the moment.

 2nd Quarter – (4) Kei Nishikori (already out – lost to Benoit Paire), (7) David Ferrer & (9) Marin Cilic (Defending Champion) 

This is the quarter of the walking wounded, and of opportunity to pounce on. Don’t be fooled by Ferrer sandwiching this quarter. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, With Gael Monfils having retired from the match against Illya Marchenko, Grigor Dimitrov and defending champion Marin Cilic are also still the mix here – and that’s just to name a few! Benoit Paire’s win over Nishikori was the biggest shocker of the tournament so far and it was a pity that Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has been playing some excellent tennis in recent weeks had to retire from his encounter against Sam Groth. Jo-Willy Tsonga is looking real good this time around, having beaten Jarkko Nieminen in straights.

David Ferrer, on the other hand, should have a breezy opening couple of rounds… before the culture shock of Jeremy Chardy or Martin Klizan, followed by Grigor Dimitrov or defending champion Marin Cilic (another 3R cracker). Cilic defeated Guido Pella of Argentina and will be next up against Evgeny Donskoy who ousted Lucas Pouille.

Grand Slams were never meant to be easy!

Possible Dark-Horse: 19th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Finally attaining a Big 4-less quarter, Jo must seize the opportunity to resurrect his top 5 game and reintroduce himself as a big-hitting, consistent threat.

Expected QF: (19) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. (9) Marin Cilic – Tsonga has been struggling for the last few months but he seems to be getting stronger day by day. After allowing Nieminen only a handful of games in his first round match, he showed that he is to be taken seriously here.

BOTTOM HALF

 3rd Quarter – (3) Andy Murray & (5) Stan Wawrinka 

Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are the top two seeds here. If Murray is going to get back to the semis again, he may have to hope that someone else knocks Stan off. The last time they played, in the quarters at the Open in 2013, Wawrinka won 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Yet again, the draw delights to throw up some drama. If Wawrinka wins his opener against Alberto Ramos-Vinolas, he faces the prospect of fast-rising South Korean Hyeon Chung in round two – the Futures dominator with the unique groundstrokes. Big-hitting Gilles Muller or home hope Jack Sock are potentials for the ensuing clash, while Viktor Troicki or Gilles Simon could await in round four. That is, if the inconsistent Swiss survives until then.

Down at the bottom end, seasoned Frenchman Adrian Mannarino is a potential second round encounter for Murray – should the Scot emerge unscathed from his firework first round showdown with Nick Kyrgios. If the draw gods wanted to send naughty Nick home early, they picked the right man for the job. Murray has won all eight sets they’ve played.

Countryman James Ward – who would have to go through just Thomas Belucci and a qualifier – would make entertaining third round opposition for the Brit, and either rising Austrian Dominic Thiem or massive-serving Kevin Anderson could push the World No.3 in the penultimate clash of the quarter.

Best 1R clashes: Andy Murray versus Nick Kyrgios; Gilles Simon versus Donald Young; Viktor Troicki versus Francis Tiafoe.

Possible Dark-Horse: 29th seed Dominic Thiem. The 22-year-old has been triumphant at 3 ATP events this year, and has the all-round game to inflict serious damage. He should win every match up to Murray, whom he could scare at the very least.

Expected QF: (3) Andy Murray d. (5) Stan Wawrinka – A contrast of styles brings us to the intriguing conclusion that this match could very well go the distance (Stan’s made the QF of the last 5 slams he’s played & Andy’s last QF miss was 2010 US Open). Although, Stan leads Andy 2-1 at Flushing Meadows, an in-form Andy should get this one (could be their 1st meeting since the 2013 US Open QF). Revenge on the cards!!

4th Quarter – (2) Roger Federer & (6) Tomas Berdych

“I haven’t made the final since 2009, actually,” Federer said last week while talking about his Open chances. He sounded a little surprised himself. As well as he has played overall in recent years, it hasn’t translated to Grand Slam success; he’s won just one major since the 2010 Australian Open.

But after beating Djokovic in Cincinnati, it’s obvious that Federer is playing well again, so well that some have deemed him the favorite at the Open. As Federer pointed out, though, New York isn’t Cincy: The balls are slower, the courts are grittier, and the matches are three-out-of-five sets—none of which works to the 34-year-old’s advantage.

Roger Federer is not expected to fall early. However, there is plenty of stiff competition in his section of the draw. Leonardo Mayer – who had 5 match points against him last year – is his first round opponent, and Marcos Baghdatis – the experienced pro who has previously caused him some issues – could await in round two. German danger Philipp Kohlschreiber is a threat to follow after, with big-servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic each in line for the round of 16 (the serving power-houses’ match; we do have a 5th set TB in NY).

Tomas Berdych opens against a wildcard and should then face Denis Kudla, before things step up a notch against any of Sam Querrey, Nicolas Mahut, Janko Tipsarevic or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. His fourth round is quite unpredictable. Of the contenders, Aussies Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic could face off in round two, and Dustin Brown potentially awaits the winner of Thanasi Kokkinakis versus Richard Gasquet.

Best 1R clashes: Thanasi Kokkinakis versus Richard Gasquet; Sam Querrey versus Nicolas Mahut; Roger Federer versus Leonardo Mayer.

Possible Dark-Horse: 21st seed Ivo Karlovic. He made the fourth round of Wimbledon, and – should John Isner permit – has the draw to accomplish a second straight major round of 16.

Expected QF: (2) Roger Federer d. (12) Richard Gasquet – The resurgent Frenchman should be a good test for the 5-time champion. But Roger’s recent ominous form suggests that he will conquer Gasquet in a hurry (Roger leads 14-2 overall; won the last 6 including 12 sets in a row).

Expected SF

(1) Djokovic d. (4) Nishikori – Expect the Japanese star to put up a courageous fight against the modern-day legend (a repeat of the 2014 US Open SF which Kei won in 4 sets). Novak should complete the retribution without much trouble this time around.

(2) Federer d. (3) Murray) – Roger is perhaps in Murray’s mind and his only “Achilles heel” at the moment. Federer’s won the last five against Andy including the last 10 sets against the Scot. The battle for the “World No.2 ranking” should be a good one. This is a tough match to predict but Roger should pip Andy again (Andy will definitely win a set or two).

Finals

(2) Federer d. (1) Djokovic – The Swiss got the better of his nemesis at the Cincy final and with confidence and portentous form which he has shown, he should get this one from Serb. Novak’s US Open final record is appalling (1-4) and that could definitely play a big part in this match. Going into this match Roger’s the underdog and the “GOAT” should be able to exorcise the demons of the 2014 & 2015 Wimbledon Finals. We could have the best US Open final since 2009 (Del Potro d. Federer). Expect Roger to turn 18 this summer!!

 

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