US Open 2016 Men’s Draw Preview and Analysis

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DJOKOVIC Novak (SRB)

DJOKOVIC Novak (SRB)

The final slam of the year will kick off on Monday in New York with all but 2 of the top 20 involved in the tournament. Roger Federer cut his season short so will not be involved while a recent appendicitis diagnosis has seen to Tomas Berdych‘s chances of competing in the event. Although he is a long way back in the live rankings, Andy Murray can take the No.1 spot in the Race rankings if he wins the tournament and Novak Djokovic does not make the final.

Check out the draw here: US Open 2016 Men’s Draw

Watch the matches Live Here.

If Djokovic is fit however, it is always going to be hard to bet against him not making the final. Rumours of a wrist injury are lingering though after an early Olympics exit followed by his withdrawal from Cincinnati. The Serbian comes into this tournament out of form and will be looking to ease his way in. While Jerzy Janowicz at his best can pose a threat to the top players, the Pole is recently back from a long injury lay off and nowhere near his best right now – losing to a player outside the top 250 in his last match.

Round four might ask some questions of Djokovic if he is still struggling with the seeds John Isner and Richard Gasquet hoping to earn that place in the round of 16. While the head to head is lopsided against Djokovic for both men as expected, Isner does have two wins and the advantage of a final set tiebreak if he somehow manages to extend the match that far.

In the other part of the top quarter of the draw, some heavy hitters will be hoping to have the opportunity to take on the World No.1. Kevin Anderson took Djokovic to five at Wimbledon last year while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga does have six wins against him in his career although he has only won once in the last twelve meetings. Cincinnati champion Marin Cilic comes into this tournament full of confidence but the 2014 winner will hope to avoid Djokovic given the head to head stands at a gruesome 0-14.

An impressive double effort from Rafael Nadal in Rio saw him make medal matches in both Singles and Doubles but while he won Gold in the doubles he failed to win either of his matches from the semi final to miss out on a medal altogether. Following the Olympics, a crushing defeat to Borna Coric is not an ideal way for the two-time US Open champion to head into the event. While surprising losses for Nadal are becoming more regular, a first week exit at a slam that isn’t Wimbledon would still be a major shock and the seeds do not look the most threatening for Nadal on his way to the quarter finals. Roberto Bautista Agut does come into the tournament in form after making the final at Winston Salem while Lucas Pouille has won just one of the three matches he has played since his surprise quarter final run at Wimbledon.

Also in the second quarter of the draw is a man who has a win over Nadal this year in Pablo Cuevas. It was on clay at the start of the year though and the Spaniard defeated Cuevas in Cincinnati before his early exit anyway. The other likely quarter finalist from this section looks to be Milos Raonic who hopes to cap off a great year with another deep run at a slam. Raonic, who will be without the wisdom of John McEnroe at this event, was most recently a semi finalist in Cincinnati after skipping the Olympics. His opener against Dustin Brown has the potential to be an exciting matchup although the German did have to retire in the Olympics through injury. The 1-6 record against Nadal doesn’t bode well for Raonic if they meet although they have not met in 2016 where the Canadian has shown a marked improvement in his game. Having defeated Raonic in Canada last month, 10th seed Gael Monfils will be confident if they meet in the fourth round as expected. Monfils was a 6-4 6-4 winner and stopped the home favourite from breaking once in their match.

The third quarter of the draw offers a lot of intrigue although Stanislas Wawrinka has to be the favourite the progress from this section as No.3 seed. Three-time quarter finalist Fernando Verdasco is far from a gimme in round one but more notable is the number of young stars in this quarter. Alexander Zverev, Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios are all seeded and Wawrinka may well have to defeat two of them to make the quarter finals.

Tomic has long been held up as a figure of underachievement but is still only two places from his career high of 17. He did pick up a top 10 victory over Kei Nishikori but has been found wanting against the very elite, going 1-20 against the top 5 in his career. Zverev lost to Yuichi Sugita in his last match at Cincinnati while Kyrgios picked up a title at the Atlanta 250 in between disappointing Masters 1000 losses in Canada and Cincinnati. The Australian is still at a career high of 16 although there is not much room for moving up the rankings further without a run to the semi finals. That is very possible for him if his explosive game is on and he serves exceptionally well.

Olympic silver medallist Juan Martin Del Potro took big steps towards showing he was back to his best with his run in Rio which included a win over Novak Djokovic in the opening round. Even more impressively, he denied the World No.1 from even seeing a break point for the first time in years. 19th seed Steve Johnson suggested that giving a wildcard to the former winner would see him take out American players and fate would have it that the pair can meet if they win their respective round one matches. Del Potro also defeated Wawrinka at Wimbledon which bodes well should the pair meet in the quarters here.

Expectations will be high for Sam Querrey in New York after his Djokovic win at Wimbledon although there is no sign of a second wind in his career with four losses in his last five matches.  11th seed David Ferrer might finally be having the year everyone has been predicting for a long time with him falling to 13th in the world rankings. Recent losses to Evgeny Donskoy at the Olympics and to Julien Benneteau, off a long injury layoff, are far from promising and he looks prime for a early round exit. If Alexander Dolgopolov can’t do it, it would be a surprise if the winner of expected Johnson-Del Potro clash fails also. Eighth seed Dominic Thiem will come into this tournament a bit off the radar. The Austrian has not played a great amount since the Olympics, last losing to Milos Raonic in Cincinnati.

The final quarter of the draw is the one Andy Murray will be expected to progress from with ease. His lengthy winning streak was ended in the Cincinnati final but not before defending his Gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio. Winning this tournament would give him his best chance of becoming Year End No.1 but a failure to do so would probably put paid to his chances with Djokovic 1200 points ahead and the expected winner if it were not to be Murray. Murray is 14-2 against the first seed he can play in Gilles Simon. Grigor Dimitrov has three wins over Murray but has shown signs of inconsistency, failing to push on from his breakthrough semi final at Wimbledon in 2014.

Sixth seed Kei Nishikori is the projected quarter final opponent for Murray and one that he has handled with ease time and again. Most recently, Murray was a 6-4 6-1 winner at the Olympics as well as winning a much closer five setter in Davis Cup action earlier in the year. 37 year old Ivo Karlovic is having a great year but has never shown much at slams, making the quarter finals just once in his long career and never getting past the third round in New York.

Prediction
SF: Djokovic def. Raonic
SF: Murray def. Kyrgios
F: Djokovic def. Murray

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