The men’s draw for the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, is wide open. Trying to pick a winner is a lot like trying to find a needle in a large collection of dried grass.
Never-the-less, I’m going to brave looking at the top ten male players and try to make some sense of just who may be the victor in two weeks time.
The draw is so open, not just because defending champion, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn due to a wrist injury but because the remaining men from the top ten aren’t as reliable as clockwork right now.
Federer Reliable Among the Unreliable US Open Field
Current World Number One, Novak Djokovic should be most people’s next to man to take out the Championship, but a blissful post-marriage haze has seen the Serbian in some pretty flaky form since winning Wimbledon in June.
August was not a good month for Djokovic. He was trounced by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Rogers Cup, 6-2, 6-2 in Toronto and Cincinnati didn’t offer much joy either. He lost to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in a tighter 7-6, 7-5 defeat.
Djokovic is also sitting in a very loaded top half of the draw.
He is joined by Murray, Tsonga and Wawrinka.
Whilst ruling Djokovic out is never a wise move, the joys of impending fatherhood may be more at the forefront of his mind right now than tennis.
If Djokovic has been a bit flaky then at least he is not alone.
Let’s consider the rest of the top ten in no particular order.
I am an unashamed David Ferrer fan. He is in my opinion the most deserving player to never have won a Grand Slam. The French Open is his best chance and sadly, I suspect the sun has set on that.
Ferrer is a terrier. He makes all of opponents work for every point.
He has had a couple of niggling injuries since Wimbledon although making the final of Cincinnati must give him a huge confidence boost coming into the US Open.
Could Raonic or Dimitrov get the breakthrough they’ve working so hard for?
Their draws aren’t too bad but no matter how flaky the top ten is right now, Djokovic and Federer plus Murray and Wawinka will remain immovable barriers for these two for just a little bit longer.
Speaking of Murray, how do you throw away a 4-1 lead in the all important second set in Cincinnati? Oh, when you’re playing Roger Federer you do and Murray did just that the other week.
Andy Murray is quite adept at talking himself out of matches and although we may readily point this out as a fault in Stan Warwinka, we mustn’t forget the Scot has a talent for it too.
Awaiting Murray in the quarters may well be Novak Djokovic. Both players will have to lift considerably from their recent poor form.
Then there is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.
I really like Jo-Wilfried. Everyone does. How can you not like him?
The thing with Jo, is when he’s hot, like at the Roger’s Cup, he’s bit of an inferno. When he’s not, he’s positively arctic.
Tsonga can smash the opposition to smithereens one week and be up the creek without a paddle the next.
Tsonga had a magical run on his way to winning the Roger’s Cup in August. He defeated Djokovic, Murray, Dimitrov and Federer, in that order.
But the very likeable Frenchman has never been able to form a meaningful relationship with consistency and he finds himself in a sticky half of the draw.
Berdych, on the other hand, is in the much more pleasant second half of the draw.
Lopez may challenge him in the fourth round and whilst Berdych may have rejoiced at finding Kevin Anderson in his half, Anderson may have been left wondering what he’s done to upset the tennis Gods so.
For an outsider from the top ten to sneak in a cheeky little victory, Berdych may well be your man.
I have deliberately left Switzerland’s top two players till the end.
Flakiness has been the theme here so let’s not ignore Stan Wawrinka any longer.
His maiden Grand Slam victory in Australia this year was a fantastic reward for a man who has chipped away at his tennis for years.
On the down side, he’s someone who can get into five set adventures and then, quite literally wander off on a mental adventure of his own.
He lost a thrilling five setter against Djokovic at the Australian Open in 2013 and repeated that at the US Open in the same year.
When faced with another five setter against Djokvic at this year’s Australian Open, another loss would have broken him mentally. Thankfully, he won through.
It’s his mental flakiness that endears him to us and frustrates us at the same time.
Just type his name into Google and the images that appear first are those of him pointing to his head. He knows these mental lapses have been the barrier between success and failure in the past.
Can Stan win this year?
Although he finds himself in the stacked first half of the draw, he’s in a good position to give it a decent crack.
All he needs is to find an out of form Djokovic or Murray in the Semis.
Last but never least, is Roger Federer. The Swiss Maestro has at least been the most consistent top ten player leading into New York.
His win over Ferrer in Cincinnati displayed some flakiness, but if everyone else in the top ten is doing it, then why can’t he too?
I think if Federer is going to add another Grand Slam to his many, then it’s going to happen in about two weeks from now.
Federer is the most reliable of the unreliable.
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