US Open Tennis 2012: Breaking Down the Most Anticipated Upcoming Matches

Adam B. Weinberger@@Adam_WeinbergerCorrespondent IIAugust 31, 2012

US Open Tennis 2012: Breaking Down the Most Anticipated Upcoming Matches

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    The second round matches of the 2012 US Open wrap up today. Looking at the day’s events, as well as the third round matchups already set, there is a good deal of anticipation surrounding some of the game’s top players and several Americans taking the court.

    With Rafael Nadal out due to injury, everybody in the field has one less player with whom to concern themselves. Of course, they’ll all tell you they are only thinking about their next opponent.  

    Here is a look at some the most anticipated second and third round matches. 

1. Andy Roddick [20] vs. Bernard Tomic, Second Round

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    Andy Roddick looked good in his opening match at this year’s Open. As has been the case for essentially his entire career, a glance at Roddick’s serving statistics can reveal all you need to know about he fared. He had 20 aces and a first-serve percentage of 73.

    The Australian, Bernard Tomic, likely grew up watching his opponent. He finished as the youngest player in the year-end Top 100 in 2011.  

    Andy Roddick announced on Thursday that he would retire at the conclusion of this year’s US Open. We shall see if his departure will be as enthralling and emotional as Andre Agassi’s Flushing Meadows farewell was in 2006.

    The difference, of course, is that Roddick won’t be receiving pain-relieving injections between matches. Agassi’s end came in the third round. Roddick should be able to do at least as well.

2. Novak Djokovic [2] vs. Rogerio Dutra Silva, Second Round

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    This should be nothing more than a straight-set walk-through for Novak Djokovic— Rogerio Dutra Silva is currently ranked number 112 in the world.

    Still, one can learn a good deal from these obligatory beat downs delivered by the world’s best. Just a year ago, Djokovic was rounding out one of the best individual seasons in the history of modern men’s professional tennis.

    Entering tournaments as the top overall seed became customary. However, the 2012 Open offers an even more familiar position; he’s behind Federer. 

    The defending champion looked nearly flawless in round one. Djokovic dropped just two games and committed only 12 unforced errors. 

3. John Isner [9] vs. Jarkko Nieminen, Second Round

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    With Andy Roddick on his way out, there could not be a better time for John Isner to deliver the best Grand Slam performance of his career.

    Like his countryman, Isner’s success hinges on his serve. Of the 138 points won in his first match, only 35 of those came off returns.

    Jarkko Nieminen, who gives up eight inches and 72 pounds to Isner, has been ranked as high as number 11 in the world. However, the US Open has been a frequent event of underachievement. He has advanced beyond the second round on only two occasions.

    It will be hugely important for Isner to connect on his first serves, as he wins nearly 80 percent of the points in which he does so. Nieminen is a decent returner, so this will be even more important in their match than is usually the case. Over the course of his career, Nieminen has won 39 percent of his return points, and is 52 percent against second serves. 

4. Gilles Simon [16] vs. Mardy Fish [23], Third Round

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    Mardy Fish stumbled his way to the third round, but has arrived nonetheless. He has more unforced errors than winners through the first two matches of the Open. Fish also has a first-serve percentage of just over 50.

    Yet, there’s something to be said for the American’s endurance. He trailed the once-relevant-turned-gambling-linked Nikolay Davydenko 0-2 in sets, but recomposed himself during the break and lost just five more games over the next three sets.

    Following his defeat, the decrepit Davydenko made an utterly outrageous suggestion (to the AP) that men’s Grand Slam matches adopt a best-of-three format.  

    Gilles Simon is probably less likely to self-destruct. Simon is defensive minded player that will pose a challenge for the aggressive Fish. I had to confirm this next statistic across multiple websites because the numbers were so shocking: Through his five set, 332-point Round One match, Simon had just two unforced errors and a single winner. 

5. Tomas Berdych [6] vs. Sam Querrey [27], Third Round

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    One the great things about tennis is that we get to see, on multiple occasions every year, a young player finally have all the parts of his game come together. Once this happens, he is able to soar up the ATP rankings.

    For Sam Querrey, we’ve been able to see it twice. Querrey reached number 18 in March of 2011, struggled with injuries for the next 10 months and, since April of this year, has finished each month ranked higher than the previous one.

    His match with Tomas Berdych offers an opportunity to officially reestablish himself among the world’s best. If Querrey’s last two years have been the model of variability, Berdych’s have been nothing short of total stagnancy. He has been ranked six through ten for every month of the last two years. Berdych is yet to advance beyond the fourth round of the US Open.

    Both players are in need of a career-defining tournament. With Nadal already out of contention, they have a better-than-average chance to do it. 

6. Jeremy Chardy [32] vs. Martin Klizan

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    Anytime somebody pulls off the upset of the tournament, they become one of the event’s major storylines for as long as they remain in the field.

    Martin Klizan did just that, and, quite frankly, did it in dominating fashion when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

    Interestingly enough, it was "Muhammad TsongALI" who first achieved major success when he made it to the 2008 Australian Open final as an unseeded player.

    Next up for Klizan is Jeremy Chardy. By reaching the third round, Chardy, like Kilzan, already has the best US Open performance of his career.

    Like many tennis fans, I was not familiar with Klizan, nor was I especially knowledgeable about Chardy.

    I took a quick look at some of their numbers for the season and found them to be equivalent. The two were within two percentage points of each other for first serve accuracy, first serve points won, second serve points won, service games won, points won returning second serves, return games won and break points converted.