2013 US Open Tennis: Bold Predictions for the 2nd Week

Jeremy Eckstein@https://twitter.com/#!/JeremyEckstein1Featured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

2013 US Open Tennis: Bold Predictions for the 2nd Week

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    The 2013 U.S. Open enters its second week with most of the top contenders from the ATP and WTA ready to war for the championship.

    There will be at least a few surprises, but this column will concern itself with looking at the most important possibilities involving the biggest stars. Some of these will be bolder predictions than others, but all are possible despite the hundreds of scenarios that can occur.

    Will Rafael Nadal get to No. 1?

    Is anyone going to stop Serena Williams?

    Will one of the overlooked champions, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, hold another trophy?

    All this and many more bold possibilities for tennis fans to discuss. Bleacher Report readers are welcome to add their own bold or safe predictions. It should be a great week of tennis.

Lleyton Hewitt Will Win Another Match

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    The World No. 66 fresh off a win against Juan Martin del Potro will keep winning. This is remarkable given the draining five sets he completed against the Argentine. The challenge of defeating Mikhail Youzhny is next. His opponent is composed and a proven winner who will be favored to win.

    But Hewitt has been steadily improving his tennis this summer. He nearly defeated John Isner in the Atlanta semifinals and has continued to pour his energy and soul into each match.

    There will be a few more fist pumps and shouts of "Come on!" as Hewitt urges himself into the quarterfinals against Djokovic. Unfortunately for Hewitt, he will get only three more sets in that one.

Bernard Tomic Will Say Good Things About Lleyton Hewitt

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    When Lleyton Hewitt's run at the U.S. Open ends, some of the Australian media are sure to ask Bernard Tomic for his comments.

    Tomic has had some infamous brushes with Hewitt, dating back to the time he was 16 years old and his agent at IMG refused to let Hewitt hit practice balls with Tomic because "Lleyton's not good enough," as reported by Linda Pearce of smh.com.au.

    At Wimbledon 2012, the two did hit together, but they have had occasional rubs with their Davis Cup time together.

    Don't expect Tomic to call a press conference to praise Hewitt. That would be very bold and humble, but there's a good chance Tomic will say the right things this week.

Caroline Wozniacki Will Announce a New Coach

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    In July, Caroline Wozniacki went out of her way to try to dispel rumors that she was pursuing Thomas Hogstedt as her coach, as explained by SI.com.

    In the article, Wozniacki's tweet was also recorded: "Funny how busy the media is to find me a new coach!How about stop making stories and assumptions, ill let you know if anything new happens!"

    It may indeed mean nothing now, but Wozniacki just ended her final Grand Slam appearance of 2013 by losing to No. 136-ranked Camila Giorgi. Some new coaching and direction is definitely in order, and now is the best time to start preparing for 2014.

    Nothing has happened, so this is purely my own speculation, but changes will eventually happen. To say it will happen this week is bold indeed.

Rafael Nadal Will Need Five Sets to Defeat Tommy Robredo

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    Most people thought that a Spaniard would defeat Roger Federer, but how many thought that the conqueror would be Tommy Robredo?

    But the clay-court journeyman has rebounded for an outstanding 2013. After several miracle five-setters at the French Open, he has continued to roll into the summer and on hard courts. And now he gets a crack at Nadal.

    Robredo and Nadal have not played since 2009, and Nadal holds an unsurprising 6-0 head-to-head mark against his fellow Spaniard.

    But this time Robredo will push Nadal to a startling fifth set. Nadal will win, of course, but not after his toughest match en route to the finals. Nadal will not help his cause with an off day, and Robredo's single backhand can handle high topspin.

    Eventually, order will be restored and Nadal will wear down Robredo with relentless pounding and aggressiveness. But it will be an intense, fun match.

Tomas Berdych Will Defeat Andy Murray

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    Half of this bold prediction is the assumption that Tomas Berdych will win his fourth-round match against Stanislas Wawrinka. We are now in second-week territory, where Berdych suddenly looks up and realizes there will be more pressure in moving on.

    But not only will Berdych get to the quarterfinals, he will get his revenge on Andy Murray for his disintegration at windy Flushing Meadows in the semifinals a year ago.

    Berdych will serve big, hit through the court with precise power on both sides and keep the Scotsman scrambling from one corner to the next. Too much power and not enough offense from Murray will doom his title defense.

    Ultimately, Berdych will move on to take a crack at Djokovic. We'll even go so far as to predict he could push Djokovic to a fourth-set tiebreaker before bowing out with an improved effort over last year. He will end the tournament as the new "best of the also-rans."

Victoria Azarenka Will Not Get to the Final

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    Victoria Azarenka's dream of winning the U.S. Open will have to wait another year. Despite her success in defeating Serena Williams at Cincinnati, she will not get her rematch.

    Will it be Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova or one of the Italians?

    Azarenka was shaky in the first set against Alize Cornet and is not a slam dunk to walk through her draw. Against lesser players, she can let up on aggressive opportunities when pushed. This is dangerous in best of three.

    If one of the next few matches features a hot and confident opponent, Azarenka will gladly pack her bags for Australia.

Richard Gasquet Will Get to the Semifinals

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    Really? Richard Gasquet made his only Grand Slam semifinal appearance at Wimbledon 2007, but he has consistently reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open. He has been here five times, including three of the past four years.

    Now is the time to take advantage of the draw. First will be cannon-serving Milos Raonic, but Gasquet should win from anywhere else on the court. He is more experienced at getting here, so he should be able to close the match with greater poise.

    Then he would go through the winner of David Ferrer vs. Janko Tipsarevic. Ferrer would be the tougher adversary because of his tenacity and greater success against everyone who is not the Fab Four.

    But this may be Gasquet's last great chance to put together big-stage tennis. He has been lambasted in a prior "winners and losers" column, but our bold prediction says he will get to the semifinals against Nadal.

Serena Williams Will Barely Have Enough to Win the US Open

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    Winning any Grand Slam title is the ultimate achievement, especially if it takes an epic match.

    Serena Williams will not be denied at the U.S. Open, but she will need to go three grueling sets to close it out.

    It's a bold prediction because Williams and Azarenka are clear favorites to meet in the finals, but we are calling an upset of Azarenka. So Williams will be a strong favorite, but she will have to call on her heart to guide her through uncharacteristic errors.

    Williams presents a greater challenge than her big serve, powerful groundstrokes and athletic retrieving. She is the most mentally tough champion in the WTA and loves to get up for new challenges. This will be the difference, even after holding back another challenge.

    She may call this her sweetest title yet as she continues to grab more hardware in her 30s.

Novak Djokovic Will Win the US Open

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    Why wouldn't this be a bold prediction? After all, this is not Melbourne, Australia and Djokovic has not won a Grand Slam title anywhere else in two years.

    But don't sleep on the Serbian. He still has the most consistent and powerful baseline attack on hard courts and can give Nadal a host of problems.

    Djokovic will win the final by delivering a better forehand. He will use it to attack the Nadal backhand and finish inside the sidelines of Nadal's ad court.

    In the center of the baseline, he does not get the angles he wishes, but this time he will pull them to the deuce corner and set up more short balls. He will serve much better than he did at Montreal.

    It will also ensure that Djokovic keeps the inside track to the No. 1 ranking.

    Of course, Nadal could win this match as well, but he must raise his game even more the next time around. The Serbian still has a higher ceiling on this surface. He will be ready.