The US Open gets underway in one week’s time. TPFTennis’s bloggers preview the men’s singles event here.
TPFTennis: Do you anticipate there being any surprise packages in the tournament, if so who?
Nathan: A man outside the ‘big four’ hasn’t won a slam since del Potro did at this tournament in 2009, which proves how tough it is to win the event as an outsider.
Tomas Berdych has the credentials to overturn the household names but beating two or three of the top lot is a mammoth ask for anyone. Milos Raonic has surged up the rankings and is another man that players will be weary of.
I do believe, that if anyone, Juan Martin del Potro is the man to go all the way from outside of the big four. Wimbledon proved that when the Argentine’s fully fit, he can push the big guns all the way. Nevertheless it’s pretty hard to see past the big four, who are tough to budge from their dominance. Overall, I can’t see any outsiders lifting the title come September 9th but I think del Potro may well be closer than his ranking suggests.
TPFTennis: Roger Federer is 32-years-old now, can he win another Slam and how do you see him competing in the US Open?
Jacob: I personally like Roger Federer, as even last year he won most of his matches and played with ease and skill. He’s also a great role model to many aspiring tennis players, been a fantastic sportsman himself.
In his recent games, although I admit it’s hard to find action from the first round of a small tournament, he has still played with that style. However, tennis in 2013 is a sport where you have to be extremely fit to smash cross-court forehands and dive forward to return a cheeky drop-shot. And I’m not sure if Roger can keep pace with players nearly 15 years younger than him. He will always go down as a legend, and recently he said in an interview that it didn’t matter about his world ranking – that was before he dropped down to seventh.
This is the first time he’s been outside the top 3 in 10 years, and I can only see him winning another Slam if a few of the top players have been injured.
TPFTennis: Rafael Nadal’s grass season was cut short, a massive contrast to his superb clay stretch – what about the Spaniard on the hard courts?
Nathan: I still believe that Rafa can win a major on a surface that isn’t clay. After a grueling clay season an injury appeared to be the problem for the Spaniard at SW19.
On hard courts, he’s won three Masters titles this year and is unbeaten so he clearly isn’t a one-surface man as some people have suggested. I fully expect a good showing from him.
Don’t foget that he isn’t defending any points from last year’s US Open, which he missed due to a long-term knee problem.
TPFTennis: How do you access Andy Murray’s chances of retaining the title?
Jacob: Andy Murray will have a tough job retaining his crown in Flushing Meadows. It’s important to remember that when he won the title last year Nadal was injured, and that’s a big thing. Winning his most recent hard court tournament (Cincinnati), meaning he is unbeaten on the surface this year! Another result of this is that Murray moves down to third in the rankings, after a poor performance in Cincinnati, losing in the quarter-finals to Tomas Berdych.
TPFTennis: Novak Djokovic remains world number one by some distance, is there any stopping him this year?
Nathan: I’m not sure if he’ll be knocked off the world number one perch this year, the gap is quite large. Djokovic favours the hard courts and will no doubt be in the latter stages of the year’s final slam. It’s worth remembering thought that Rafa is no longer defending any points from last year due to his long injury spell a year ago.
The Serb’s fitness and amazing defence, which he transforms so well into attack, is unstoppable at times. He is the joint favourite with Andy Murray. The pair’s matches are grueling and of the highest quality, their on-court rivalry is going to be fascinating for years to come.
TPFTennis: Finally, who do you think will win the title and why?
Jacob: Murray has a large fan base across the pond – borne from his US hard court wins earlier in the year and his training base in Miami. Novak Djokovic also has a quickly growing fan club, but in a one-on-one between the Serb and Briton in the semi-final of the US Open, I’d have to back Andy. He’s been playing with more variety than the no.1 recently, and he definitely coped with the pressure of the Wimbledon final better. However, I can’t see past the Spaniard for the title itself.
Nathan: Defending a grand slam is new territory for Murray, making him the man of the all men to beat.
My honest feeling is that Nadal will win but I, of course, want it to be the British number one. I believe the world number four is just getting his injury firmly out of him and he does have a point or two to prove on the grand slam stage following his Wimbledon showing.
On a final note from me, c’mon Andy!
For more on the draw, click here.
– Nathan Morley