Ahhhh. The US Open – an American tradition on par with apple pie, capitalism and forgetting about the US Open once football starts. It truly is a magical time of year.
The thing is, this year’s edition could go down as one of the most interesting and exciting of recent times. Whether it’s the fact it’s the fourth major, or the second on hardcourt, or ruins potential classics with a fifth-set tiebreak, the US Open just doesn’t seem to have the spark of its slam counterparts. This year however, it’s got one thing going for it – stories.
Whether it’s the apparent decline of Roger Federer, the resurgence of Rafael Nadal, the now-epic Murray-Djokovic rivalry, or the countdown to Bernard Tomic disgracing himself, there’s a lot to discuss. Let’s get to it.
The first (Djokovic) quarter:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – it’s gonna be a Djokovic-Del Potro quarterfinal. There really isn’t anyone here who could challenge them over five sets. It’s actually kind of staggering how many former next-big-things, also-rans and flash-in-the-pans they managed to group into the same quarter. Between Ricardas Berankis, Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt, Lukas Rosol, Brian Baker and David Goffin, there’s enough mediocrity and unfulfilled potential here to fill a recent Jay-Z album.
Last man standing: Djokovic
Delpo’s inching ever-so-closer to his 2009 slam-winning form, and I expect this to be a really fun match regardless. Where Djok gets the advantage is his ability to just grind heavy hitters like Delpo into submission. He’ll force Delpo to hit shots where he can’t get his weight behind the ball on a consistent basis, and eventually he’ll tire. Djokovic in 5.
The second (Murray) quarter:
Another surprisingly lightweight quarter, of the seeds only Stan Wawrinka really could threaten to throw a spanner in the works. And while Tomas Berdych should be Murray’s QF opponent, it’s not unheard of for him to implode in the early rounds. If the expected matchup does come to fruition, expect Murray to fight off the initial onslaught and win in 4 – if he’s not playing Federer, the quarterfinal is Berdych’s usual jumping-off point anyway.
Last man standing: Murray
The third (Ferrer) quarter:
I’m just gonna come out and say it: who cares about this quarter? David Ferrer is so boring to watch he makes Tim Duncan look like Javale McGee, and of the two guys with a legitmate chance at making a run – Jerzy Janowicz and Milos Raonic, neither is getting past the QF’s. This quarter is like the tennis equivalent of Miss Universe East Germany, you just know they’re competing for the right to get be the turd in the punch bowl.
Last man standing: Raonic (I guess)
The fourth (Nadal) quarter:
Federer. Nadal. I think I speak for everyone when I say DON’T FUCK THIS ONE UP FELLAS! After being deprived of their first match on grass since 2008 in the Wimbledon quarters, what better way to make up for it than with their first meeting at Flushing Meadows? Unfortunately, there are some viable threats to this occurrence. Kei Nishikori isn’t an easy out for anyone, John Isner comes in with a fine run of form, and Gael Monfils is, well… Gael Monfils.
Now obviously none of these dudes are going down as all-timers, what I’m really getting at is how vulnerable the two greatest players ever are in 2013. Fed’s predicament is pretty straightforward, he’s 32 – past his prime, always seems to be carrying some niggle and prone to inconsistent play. Rafa’s situation is just frustrating, the last two masters showed just how good he still is, and at 27 he should have a year or two left in his prime, BUT his body is less trustworthy than a Catholic priest in a room full of children. He could break down in round 2 or the semifinals – he could not break down at all – but you just can’t be sure, and that’s the shitty reality of it all. Still, I’m picking Nadal over Fed in 4.
Last man standing: Nadal
Djokovic d. Murray
Nadal d. Raonic
Djokovic d. Nadal
Not exactly an unheard-of result to be sure, but it definitely would be bucking a trend for Djokovic to overcome Murray here. We all know it’s going 5 sets/4 hours (whichever one comes first), and Muzz did just beat him at Wimbledon, so why Djokovic? He’s carrying slightly better form coming in, and I just think hardcourt accentuates the grinding rallies he’ll seek to play, while slightly neutralising Murray’s serve compared to grass. Would I put money on it? No. Will it be a cracker? Yes.
And then there’s Nadal-Raonic… So Djokovic-Nadal! Break out your Lady Gaga kids and party like it’s 2010-2011, because here we go again. Whenever these two play, you know you’re getting a slug-fest on par with any marriage to Mike Tyson, it’s just the way it goes.
Looking at their past matchups, you can’t really get an indication either way. Nadal took the last meeting in Montreal a few weeks ago, but Djokovic took their two most recent Grand Slam meetings on hard at the US and Australian in 2011. So for me, where I give Novak the edge is his ability to be a bit more attacking and use Nadal’s defensive positioning against him. With these guys playing over five sets, expect massive momentum swings both ways. In the end it may simply come down to who’s still standing – strategy tends to go out the window when you only have enough energy to attempt winners. Really, all you need to know is it’s going to be epic. So do yourself a favour and watch it.