Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer headline the 2014 US Open draw, which is without the defending champion, Rafael Nadal. On the topic of missing players, when I see a men’s draw like this one, I really miss DelPo. Hopefully we should see an appearance from Juan Martin del Potro before the end of the year. There are a handful of interesting first round matches, but I have to admit that I find it hard to get excited about the men’s draw where things are unlikely to get going until the latter stages. And even then, there are sections that could really break up. Anyway, let’s take a look at the draw…
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Note: This post has been updated to include the placement of qualifiers
First Quarter: N.Djokovic (1) v A.Murray (8)
After winning Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic suffered third round losses at the hands of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tommy Robredo in Toronto and Cincy respectively. Both were surprising losses and even more so because they came in straight sets. But were these worrying losses? In my opinion, no. The victory at Wimbledon was an emotionally draining run and he’s had a lot going on his personal life too. As the birth of his child looms, it’s certainly a question whether he’ll be back to his best before then. In Djokovic’s favour, he will be as fresh as they come and I find it really hard to write off the Serb after all he’s managed to achieve in the last couple of years.
Djokovic opens his US Open campaign against Diego Schwartzman in what is a pretty challenging draw. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if Djokovic comes through some of these matches, it will make him stronger. The first seed Djokovic could meet is Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Djokovic is projected to meet John Isner in the fourth round. Isner looked a dead cert to win the warm-up tournament at Winston-Salem, but pulled out before his quarter-final match with Lukas Rosol due to a foot injury. For the third consecutive time at the US Open, Isner is drawn to meet Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round. In their last two meetings at the US, Kohlschreiber won both matches. Isner exacted some revenge with a three set all-tiebreak victory in Auckland at the start of the year. Isner’s first match of the week will be against the NCAA champion, Marcos Giron.
Djokovic could meet Andy Murray in the quarter-finals. This was probably one of the more intriguing sub-plots before the draw as to where Murray would land in the draw and its come as no surprises that he drew one of Djokovic and Federer… it always happens like this! I’m really not sure what to make of Murray right now. I thought he played a great match against John Isner in Cincy. He saved two match points and finished the match in superb form. However he then went on to lose to Roger Federer in the quarter-finals having had a double break lead in the second set. He also blew a lead in the third set of his match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto. I feel like he’s playing OK, but since his spell on the sidelines for back surgery, he has lost some of his winning spark and he’s not quite rediscovered it yet. He remains without a top ten win and even an appearance in a final in 2014. Murray could meet Tsonga in the fourth round, if both players come through their first three matches. Murray’s first match is against Robin Haase, who he defeated in five dramatic sets at the US Open in 2011, meanwhile Tsonga opens against Juan Monaco.
1st Round Predictions: Djokovic d. Schwartzman in 3 sets, Lu d. Garcia-Lopez in 4 sets, Isner d. Giron in 3 sets, Tsonga d. Monaco in 3 sets, McGee d. Nedovyesov in 5 sets, Benneteau d. Paire in 5 sets and Murray d. Haase in 3 sets
Quarter-Final Prediction: Djokovic v Murray
Second Quarter: S.Wawrinka (3) v M.Raonic (5)
Trying to sum up Stan Wawrinka‘s year is a challenge. Winning the Australian Open and Monte-Carlo were stunning achievements, but in between those two peaks, his season has been a real mixed bag. In his last match on tour, Stan put in a listless performance up against Julien Benneteau in Cincy, losing in three sets. I wasn’t sure whether he was tanking or if he was injured. Something was definitely not quite right. His draw at the US Open is pretty delightful though and it’s hard to see him falling before the quarters even if he’s not at his best. His first rounder will be against Jiri Vesely and the first seed he could meet is Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman has Donald Young in his section, who reached the semi-finals of DC and is one of my tips to have a good tournament. A notable first round match in this section features Mikhail Youzhny and the rising Aussie, Nick Kyrgios. Youzhny has been off-colour for most of the year so if Kyrgios has recovered sufficiently from the injury that kept him out of Cincy, this could be a good draw for him.
Like Wawrinka, Milos Raonic has a very favourable draw. The one name that could provide stiff opposition is Kei Nishikori. However the Japanese star was forced to pull out of Canada and Cincy with a severely infected toe. It’s just one of many injuries that has halted Nishikori from what could have been a pretty marvellous season. When he was fully fit, he tore threw the field in Barcelona and could have won Madrid too. Kei plays Wayne Odesnik in the first round. In best of five set matches and coming back from injury, I think this tournament will be too early for Nishikori. If anyone is going to sweep up, it could be Jack Sock. But then again it could not be Jack Sock. Raonic’s first match will be against Taro Daniel. If Nishikori does succumb to injury, this would leave a pretty a clear route to the quarters for Milos, who has been very consistent this year.
1st Round Predictions: Wawrinka d. Vesely in 4 sets, Young d. Kavcic in 3 sets, Kyrgios d. Youzhny in 5 sets, Pospisil d. Bolelli in 3 sets, Robredo d. Roger-Vasselin in 4 sets, Nishikori d. Odesnik in 3 sets, Sock d. Andujar in 4 sets, Rosol d. Coric in 4 sets and Raonic d. Daniel in 3 sets
Quarter-Final Prediction: Wawrinka v Raonic
Third Quarter: T.Berdych (6) v D.Ferrer (4)
Once again, we have the delights of a Grand Slam quarter featuring Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer. Berdych has been in strangely subdued form of late, compiling a 2-3 W-L record since Wimbledon. He will need to hit the ground running at Flushing Meadows as he takes on Lleyton Hewitt in the first round. The Aussie stalwart has done nothing of note since winning Newport, but is always a handful for the seeds. He’s knocked off Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro in the early stages of Slams in the last two years and with Berdych in his recent form, there’s no denying that Hewitt has a huge opportunity. If Berdych comes through that match, the rest of his draw looks pretty clear till the fourth round where he is projected to meet Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian player has done nothing of note since making the semi-finals of the French Open. If he wins his opener against Kenny De Schepper, he could face his friend, Dom Thiem in what would be one of the more engaging second round matches. Also look out for the number 19 seed, Felicano Lopez, who could meet Steve Johnson in the second round. I like one of the pair to reach the quarters in my wild tip of the tournament.
The one glowing ray of sunshine in the first round of the men’s draw is a match between Bernard Tomic and Dustin Brown. Whenever I watch Dustin, he seems to peak so i’ll try and catch some of this match! Tomic has been much improved in the last month or two after winning the ATP 250 tournament in Bogota. It’s easy to forget he had hip surgery earlier this year; giving the Aussie some credit, he’s done reasonably well since then if you ignore that performance in Miami (28 MINUTES) where he shouldn’t have turned up. The winner is likely to meet David Ferrer in the second round, who has a brilliant draw. Also of note in this section is Marin Cilic. He takes on Marcos Baghdatis in what should be a fun first rounder (Cilic leads the H2H 4-1).
1st Round Predictions: Berdych d. Hewitt in 4 sets, Klizan d. Darcis in 4 sets, Lopez d. Dodig in 5 sets, Johnson d. Ito in 3 sets, Cilic d. Baghdatis in 5 sets, Lajovic d. Janowicz in 3 sets, Anderson d. Cuevas in 4 sets, Simon d. Albot in 3 sets, Tomic d. Brown in 4 sets and Ferrer d. Dzumhur in 3 sets
Quarter-Final Prediction: Lopez v Ferrer
Fourth Quarter: G.Dimitrov (7) v R.Federer (2)
The best player on the hard courts this summer has been Roger Federer, who won Cincy and reached the final of Canada. He was consistent although there were some odd sets and his final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Canada was one of his weakest performances of the entire year. The one issue I have had with Fed is whether he can maintain his level over seven matches, often having to succeed against a Djokovic, a Nadal or a Murray in a best of five set match. Without Nadal and neither of Djokovic or Murray displaying impressive pre-US Open form, this really does look like a great opportunity for Federer. The Swiss maestro opens his campaign against Marinko Matosevic.
Grigor Dimitrov reached the semi-finals of Toronto, but he didn’t play well in any of his matches and got rather fortunate with the draw. He fell early in Cincy and is certainly not on the radar as title challengers for the US. He opens against Ryan Harrison for the second consecutive Grand Slam. The first seed he could meet is Joao Sousa although watch out for David Goffin in this section, who had put together a phenomenal 25 match winning streak. Goffin won three consecutive Challenger events in the Netherlands, Poland and Finland. He then went on to win his first ATP title at the 250 event in Kitzbuhel, beating Dominic Thiem in the final. The streak came to an end in the quarter-finals of Winston-Salem where he lost to Jerzy Janowicz. In this incredible run, Goffin dropped just three sets… THREE SETS! He plays a qualifier in the first round and you’d certainly fancy with his current booming confidence, that he can knock off one of the weakest seeds in Sousa assuming the pair meet in the second round.
Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet are projected to meet in what would be a fabulous all-French third rounder. Monfils has actually had a reasonable year. He made the final of Doha, won Montpellier, then went walkabouts for a while (and had injuries too) before reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open. He lost to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in Canada and Cincy respectively, winning a set against both players. You never quite know what you are going to get with Monfils, but he has a good draw, starting with the American, Jared Donaldson. Gasquet pulled out of Cincy with an abdominal injury so Monfils would perhaps be the favourite to come through that mini-section and go deeper in the draw.
1st Round Predictions: Dimitrov d. Harrison in 3 sets, Sousa d. Dancevic in 5 sets, Monfils d. Donaldson in 3 sets, Gasquet d. Istomin in 4 sets, Fognini d. Golubev in 3 sets, Smyczek d. Krajinovic in 4 sets, Karlovic d. Nieminen in 3 sets, Melzer d. Granollers in 5 sets and Federer d. Matosevic in 3 sets
Quarter-Final Prediction: Monfils v Federer
Moo’s Final Prediction: Djokovic d. Federer
I’ve really deliberated over this one. And i’m still not convinced but heyyyy, i’m never confident about anything.
Thoughts on the draw? Who is your champion and finalist?