2012 US Open Week 1 Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
July 27-August 9, 2012
The final slam of the year and the conclusion to the American summer hard court series begins Monday and it will a chance for a 2nd slam this year for Federer or defending champion Djokovic and another chance for Murray to earn his first slam. While they are the most likely contenders, someone else could very well break through like Del Potro did at the ’09 Open.
Top 8 seeds
1: Roger Federer
2: Novak Djokovic
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Juan Martin Del Potro
8: Janko Tipsarevic
The only players from the top 50 missing from the Open are the obvious big one Nadal, and a habitually injured Gael Monfils.
1st round matchups to watch:
Michael Russell vs. Gilles Simon
Muscles Russell has had a good summer hard court season as the tested 34-year-old veteran made the quarters in both Atlanta and LA. He also qualified in DC and he has had some memorable matches at the US Open, including taking Andy Roddick to four sets in a thriller at last year’s US Open.
He will take on Simon, who has struggled mightily ever since the French Open. While Simon remains in the top 20, he had to pull out of Cincy with a shoulder injury and lost his 1st round match to Tommy Haas in Toronto, his only two results on hard court this summer. This match is ripe for an upset if the right Russell shows up and Simon continues his well below average level of play.
Jack Sock vs. Florian Mayer
Sock, one of the main draw wild card recipients, has been a stalwart of the of the US Open series this summer and all three of his ATP wins this year have come in the past couple of months. The 19-year-old will take on German Florian Mayer, who is probably the least heralded top 30 player on the tour. That being said, he does his best on clay and hasn’t made an impression on the hard courts this summer, so it is an interesting matchup and will show whether Sock can make an impact at the Open.
David Goffin vs. Tomas Berdych
Goffin and Berdych are a couple of players who have had a rollercoaster of a year. Both started off great and did well in the spring, slumped through the summer, and now may be coming back when the time is right as both have scored solid wins and are still in contention for the title in Winston-Salem. Berdych, the 7 seed, is a heavy favorite but Goffin is a dangerous player. Depending on which Tomas shows up, this one could be very close.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Benoit Paire
Dimitrov and Paire are two of the more interesting characters on the tour and both are young at 21 and 23. Neither are in form even though they have talent to spare and this matchup is mainly interesting from a fitness perspective as both guys have had issues keeping in shape. Expect a lot of cramping and complaining and probably some fireworks in this one, especially if it is a day match in the heat.
Ernests Gulbis vs. Tommy Haas
Tommy Haas remains one the hottest players on the tour going into the US Open. He made the final in DC, the quarters in Toronto (pushing Djokovic to three), and lost to Del Potro in the 2nd round of Cincinnati. All of this fine play has continued to propel his ranking higher and he is now in the top 25.
Gulbis is well known as one of the streakiest players on the tour and another with talent to spare if he can keep his game together. Gulbis recently dropped a three-setter to Marcel Granollers in Winston-Salem in what was a bit of a choke, so this match could either be a brisk one or a competitive one.
Benjamin Becker vs. Ryan Harrison
Benjamin Becker made a memorable run at the 2006 US Open, reaching the 4th round as a qualifier, while Harrison is always well hyped but has struggled this year. He lost in the first round of both Atlanta and Cincy and is only .500 on the year overall. While Becker hasn’t done anything of note recently besides a quarter in Newport on grass and a semi in Memphis all the way back in February, he still seems to have something in the tank. If Harrison comes out cold, Benni Becker, one of the nice guys on the tour, could be ripe to pull off the upset.
Wimbledon and Cincy champ Federer opens his bid for another slam against Donald Young, who just broke his 17 match losing streak in Winston-Salem but lost in the next round. After that, Fed will face Bjorn Phau or a qualifier, and then in the 3rd round likely faces Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco is just coming back on the tour after being sidelined by injury. It will be interesting to see what type of form Nando is in. Albert Ramos, a qualifier or Robby Ginepri are also options. This is a superb early draw for Federer.
Mardy Fish, the 23 seed, who appears to be in form as he reached the DC Semis and Toronto and Cincy quarters, opens up against Go Soeda and then could see Nikolay Davydenko or a qualifier. In the 3rd round, he could get the winner of Simon/Russell, big serving Ivo Karlovic or a qualifier. Another pretty good early draw.
Nicolas Almagro, the 11 seed, who has been out with injury, opens up against Radek Stepanek in an interesting match and the winner will face either Nicolas Mahut or Phillip Petzschner. In the 3rd round, the winner will square off against the winner of Mayer/Sock, Flavio Cipolla or Blaz Kavic.
Sam Querrey, the 27 seed, who is in the running for the US Open series bonus title and is still playing in Winston-Salem, opens up against Yen Hsun-Lu and then faces Somdev Devvarman or Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. In the 3rd round, he will meet the Berdych/Goffin winner or Denis Istomin or Jurgen Zopp. A Berdych vs. Querrey 3rd round match up would be a good one and Querrey is playing above his ranking right now.
Olympic Gold Medalist Andy Murray, who has had less than impressive performances in Toronto and Cincinnati, starts off against a continually struggling Alex Bogomolov. Even though these two have some history, Murray will pull it out. Then he will meet either Ivan Dodig or a qualifier. In the 3rd round, Murray could tangle with 30 seed Feliciano Lopez, Robin Haase, Thomaz Bellucci or Pablo Andujar. This isn’t a bad early bracket for Murray.
24 seed Marcel Granollers, still in the running in Winston-Salem, will take on American wild card Denis Kudla and then will face either Lukas Lacko or more likely James Blake in the 2nd round. If he can undo Blake, he will likely face Milos Raonic, the 15 seed, who starts against Santiago Giraldo and will face the winner of the wily vets, Paul-Henri Mathieu vs. Igor Andreev.
12 seed Marin Cilic will face fellow lanky big man Marinko Matosevic then Adrian Ungur or a qualifier and in the 3rd round likely faces 17 seed Kei Nishikori (who will take on a pair of qualifiers in his first two matches).
5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also still in the running in Winston-Salem, will face a qualifier and then Martin Klizan or Alejandro Falla. He is expected to face fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the 3rd round.
David Ferrer is the 4 seed, but likely isn’t the favorite in this quarter. He will open against a slumping Kevin Anderson, who just lost another early round match to Ernests Gulbis in Winston Salem, then face a qualifier or countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver. In the 3rd round, he could meet 28 seed Mikhail Youzhny, Atlanta finalist Gilles Muller, Tobias Kamke or the wild card Lleyton Hewitt (who just beat Youzhny in Cincy a couple of weeks ago).
13 seed Richard Gasquet, the Toronto finalist, will take on Albert Montanes and then a struggling Jurgen Melzer or a qualifier in the 2nd round. After that, he likely draws the dangerous 21 seed Haas in what would be a thriller. Also in this part of the draw are two wild cards, Americans Steve Johnson and Rajeev Ram. Also worth a mention is…Haas plays Gulbis.
John Isner, the 10 seed who is still in the running to defend his title in Winston-Salem and was a Toronto and Atlanta semi finalist, opens against veteran Belgian Xaiver Malisse, who still has moments of brilliance at times. Big John would then will see either Mikhail Kukushkin or a struggling Jarkko Nieminen in the 2nd round. Peering into the 3rd round, Isner could draw the man he beat in Toronto, Phillip Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber plays Michael Llodra in the 1st round and the winner of Paire/Dimitrov.
29 seed Viktor Troicki opens against young German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who we haven’t heard much from in a while, and then he’ll face a qualifier. He would then battle the likely favorite in this quarter, 8 seed and Toronto semi-finalist Janko Tipsarevic, who opens up against wild card Guillaume Rufin of France and then a streaky Brian Baker or Jan Hajek.
Toronto champ and Cincy finalist Novak Djokovic will face Paolo Lorenzi in the 1st round, then Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil or a qualifier. For the third course, he’ll be expecting 31 seed Julien Benneteau on the menu. Also in this section is Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, who is a player to watch. He will face wild card Dennis Novikov in the 1st round. Djokovic should cruise through the first three rounds.
18 seed Stan Wawrinka, a Cincy semifinalist, will face Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and then the winner of Steve Darcis vs Malek Janziri. Darcis just beat Roddick in Winston Salem but fell to Berdych thereafter. If Wawrinka gets through, he could face 14 seed
Alexandr Dolgopolov. The DC champion appears to have his act together and is still in the running for the Winston-Salem title. Dolgo will face Jesse Levine and then Marcos Baghdatis or a qualifier. If he and Wawrinka meet in the 3rd round, it will be a match you’ll want to see.
10 seed Juan Monaco faces Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and then either Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Fabio Fognini. Monaco has been slightly disappointing on the hard courts this summer and could use a good run here. He should tangle with 20 seed Andy Roddick, who just lost to Darcis in Winston Salem-and has been up and down. Roddick will face a qualifier and then Carlos Berlocq or Bernard Tomic. This could be the most open part of the draw.
7 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, one of the favorites outside the top three, faces countryman David Nalbandian, who has struggled mightily, and then will face the winner of Becker/Harrison. Del Po could then see 26 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, who has disapponted on hard courts or Lukasz Kubot, who plays Leonardo Mayer.
Dark Horses (1 for each quarter of the draw): Sam Querrey, Marcel Granollers, Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic
Querrey is an in form player who faces a struggling seed in Berdych and has an easy 1st and 2nd round match up, then likely gets Stepanek or Almagro in the 4th round.
Granollers has been pretty solid this summer, and while he likely faces Murray in the 4th round, if he can get through Blake and Raonic and if Murray has any sort of moody collapse, Granollers is talented enough to capitalize. It isn’t highly likely, but he has a chance.
Hewitt continues to grind his way around the tour and seems to do his best at the slams. Kamke is a good match up (just beat Youhzny). Hewitt would then see Ferrer in the 3rd round (who hasn’t been very sharp on the hard courts this summer). Anything is possible with a guy as tenacious as Rusty.
Tomic isn’t playing that well, but he did beat Harrison in Cincinnati and has a good 1st round match up style-wise with Berlocq. Tomic avoids the most dangerous seeds in this section as Roddick is struggling and Monaco has been off.
Week 1 Predictions (4th round matchups)
Federer vs. Fish
Stepanek vs. Querrey
Murray vs. Granollers
Nishikori vs. Tsonga
Tipsarevic vs. Isner
Haas vs. Ferrer
Del Potro vs. Tomic
Wawrinka vs. Djokovic
Federer d. Querrey
Murray d. Tsonga
Tipsarevic d. Haas
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Tsonga will have a shot against Murray. Haas and Del Po will also have chances, but the higher seeds should advance.
Federer d. Murray
Djokovic d. Tipsarevic
Murray doesn’t seem trustworthy enough at the moment to beat Federer again and Djokovic handled Tipsarevic in Toronto.
Federer d. Djokovic
It will likely be closer than their encounter in Cincy, but Federer is on his game and appears ready to take home another title in a 1 vs. 2 battle.