The 2015 US Open kicks off tomorrow with the opening slate of matches at the USTA national tennis center in New York City. Last Word on Sports experts Steen Kirby, and Niall Clarke, along with Men’s Tennis Forum’s own Manuel Traquete break down the best 5 matches on the men’s round 1 side of Monday.
Panelists Predictions: US Open Men’s Day 1 Including Nadal-Coric
(8)Rafael Nadal vs. Borna Coric
The teenager Coric has the talent and the self confidence to pull off a massive upset and send Nadal packing for the first time ever in the opening round of the US Open, he already has a h2h win last year, and Nadal is having his worst season in recent years on hard courts, after a pair of losses before the semis in Montreal and Cincy. With that said, beating Nadal in a best of 5 match is an entirely different prospect than best of 3, and Nadal isn’t injured like he was last Fall. Coric has the power to push him away from the court, but I don’t see the young gun being able to maintain a high level for the entire course of the match. Coric should take a set, but as we saw in the Australian Open this year, when it comes down to it Rafa is physical enough to win early round matches like this one. If he does pull it off it would be Coric’s second top 10 win of the season.
Prediction: Nadal in 4 sets
Arguably the pick of the round, dangerous unseeded player Coric plays past his peak Nadal on Arthur Ashe. Coric holds a victory over the former two time champion, so we know he can get it done. But can he get the job done at a grand slam? I can see why people believe this has upset potential, but for me I think Rafa prevails in 5.
Prediction: Nadal in 5 sets
The only time they played, Coric beat Nadal last year in Basel. But back then the Spaniard was in much worse condition than he is right now, hard as it may be to believe. It’s difficult to see Coric having the weapons to beat or even really trouble Nadal at a Slam here. Even considering how poor Nadal’s season has been for his standards, he should pull through here without much difficulty.
Prediction: Nadal in 3 sets
(4)Kei Nishikori vs. Benoit Paire
Nishikori could still be suffering the lingering effects of an injury in this one, so it’s hard to tell where his form will be, but the defending US Open finalist is more consistent than Paire and better from both wings, while Paire just has the elite backhand. Credit to “Ben-wa” for building his results back to an ATP caliber and threatening to live up to his great potential once more, but presuming Nishikori is 90-100% he should be able to get through this one, if Paire falls behind early you have to wonder if he will throw in the towel and entirely lose focus as he often does.
Prediction: Nishikori in 3 sets
In this battle of the backhands I will make on prediction- It will be fun. Every Paire match has its entertainment whether it will be down to the tennis or on court antics. If the Frenchman is thinking about his tennis this week, he should notice that there is a shot at a good run here. Nishikori has been injured and who knows what state he will be in come match time. Under normal circumstances I would say Nishikori prevails, but the injury doubt is making me side with Paire this time around.
Prediction: Paire in 4 sets
This could potentially be the best match of the first round. Both players are amazingly talented and have arguably the two best attacking double handed backhands on the tour, Paire with the power and variety and Nishikori with his incredible ability to take the ball early and open up angles at will.
Ultimately though, while both are talented and flashy players Nishikori is the far more consistent of the two so you’d expect him to pull through.
Prediction: Nishikori in 4 sets
(WC)Mardy Fish vs. Marco Cecchinato
Cecchinato, a qualifier, is an unheralded Italian clay courter who is 0-7 in tour level main draw matches, but he’s still under 25 and could develop into an ATP caliber player as his run in qualifying shows. With that said, the draw gods smiled on Fish as he is likely going to last at least through the first round in New York. He’s semi-retired, and clearly rusty, nothing like the top 10 player he once was, but he gave Andy Murray fits in Cincy and won his opening match there against Viktor Troicki. That result is enough for me to say he will win this match in front of an adoring audience.
Prediction: Fish in 4 sets
Potentially the last match of Fish’s career. He faces challenger level Cecchinato in round one. I have not seen much of the Italian, but he came through qualifying so has some form behind him. However I think Fish will prolong his stay in New York.
Prediction: Fish in 4 sets
A very lucky draw for Fish, who should definitely be winning a match in his last US Open and last tournament of his career. Cecchinato is a challenger level claycourt specialist and shouldn’t pose much of a threat even to the current Fish.
Prediction: Fish in 3 sets
(25)Andreas Seppi vs. (Q)Tommy Paul
Tommy Paul had a solid run in qualifying and has shown ability on both hard and clay court surfaces, since turning pro he continues to improve. That said the former #1 high school recruit in the nation is going to have a big step up against tour veteran Andreas Seppi. Seppi isn’t in great form but he’s demonstrated his varied all court ability at various times this season and that variety should prove too much for Paul. I don’t count him out to get a upset not far from his hometown in New Jersey, but Seppi is the safe pick.
Prediction:: Seppi in 3 sets
I am not going to lie, I have not seen much of Paul. But he won the French Open juniors and qualified for this tournament so he must have something about him. I doubt though at this stage of his career he can test someone as seasoned as Seppi.
Prediction: Seppi in 3 sets
Paul surprised everyone by qualifying to the main draw at the tender age of 17. But can he actually win a main round match? Why not, he will be the underdog of course but he’s got nothing to lose and Seppi isn’t exactly the most imposing of opponents among the seeds. At the risk of being made to sound very foolish post facto, I’m going with the upset here.
Prediction: Paul in 4 sets
(26)Tommy Robredo vs. (Q)Michael Berrer
Robredo has a good history at the US Open but he’s a pedestrian 5-5 on hard courts this year and has a split 1-1 h2h with his fellow veteran Berrer. The German serve and volleyer has been great in qualifying this year, beat Nadal in Doha back in January, and also reached the semis in Bogota, did I mention he did all of this in his last year on tour? His final season has been his best, and with Robredo seemingly in a decline look for Berrer to rise to the occasion and pull off an upset victory.
Prediction: Berrer in 4 sets
Two experienced tour veterans go at it in this first round clash. Berrer holds a shock victory over Nadal, but I don’t see him besting Robredo over 5 sets.
Prediction: Robredo in 4 sets
Berrer started the season well, beating Nadal in his first tournament, but it’s been all downhill from there and it’s very hard to see him beat Robredo here. With that said, Robredo has proven to be very upset-prone at the Slams this year, with Roger-Vasselin, Coric and Millman getting the better of him, so an upset is far from an impossible scenario.
Prediction: Robredo in 4 sets
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