US Open Tennis 2014: Early Predictions Post-Wimbledon
As Wimbledon's well-worn grass on Centre Court bids farewell to the world's best tennis players, the hard courts of Flushing Meadows await.
So do questions about how the Wimbledon results will impact U.S. Open play.
All of the Wimbledon finalists will probably do just fine at the U.S. Open. But what about other players?
Serena Williams raised eyebrows and questions when she appeared wobbly in her second-round doubles match. Can she rebound in time to salvage her season? How about all those players born in the 1990s? How will they perform on the hard courts?
As the final leg of the season gets underway, the following are some awfully early predictions for the U.S. Open.
Andy Murray Remains Weak Link in Big 4
A year ago, Andy Murray was the toast of tennis. He had vanquished 77 years of frustration for British fans.
Unable to defend his Wimbledon title this year, Murray fell to No. 10 in the ATP World Tour rankings. Suddenly, the Scot looks like the weakest link in the so-called Big Four. He has just one more Slam win than Stanislas Wawrinka, the guy actually ranked No. 4.
Murray's disappointing performance in the French Open semifinal and the lackluster way in which he played against Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon raises questions about his immediate future. Just how fit is he? How much is he missing Ivan Lendl as his coach?
He has just two Slams among the 40 won by players in the Big Four. Forget the Big Four, Murray will struggle to stay in the top 10.
Eugenie Bouchard Fails to Make Semis in New York
Bouchard has made it to the semifinals or better in each Grand Slam this year. But the beating she took at the hands of Kvitova was a wake-up call for the 20-year-old. Kvitova exposed how to exploit Bouchard's lack of movement and vulnerable second serve.
If nothing else, Bouchard will have a bull's-eye on her back. Anointed as the media darling, Bouchard has benefited from the hype machine. However, she earned her way into the semifinals.
With the target on her back, Bouchard will find it far more difficult being a front-runner as opposed to an up-and-comer. She will not make it to the semifinals at the U.S. Open.
Rafael Nadal Will Be Recharged and Ready
Now that Djokovic has replaced him at No. 1, Nadal has even more incentive to defend his U.S. Open title.
Not that Nadal needs added motivation. He's proven he can bounce back from adversity. When he last spoke to reporters at Wimbledon, Nadal said he was off to the beach. The break will do him good. Expect Nadal to return to New York refreshed and ready to defend his title.
Petra Kvitova Makes Deepest Run in U.S. Open in Her Career
Kvitova put on one of the most dominant performances in Wimbledon history. Her big serve and bullet groundstrokes blew Bouchard off the court. So what has stopped her from having the same type of success at the U.S. Open?
Kvitova struggled with belief. With an impressive Wimbledon win behind her, Kvitova will enter the U.S. Open confident that she can take out Grand Slam winners and up-and-coming challengers. She will finally move beyond the fourth round.
Jack Sock Will Have an Impressive Showing
Jack Sock and his Canadian partner Vasek Pospisil upset the Bryan brothers to take the Wimbledon men's doubles title.
Sometimes winning, even if it's in doubles, generates more success. Sock and Pospisil played through the doubles draw, unseeded and won it all. That, combined with a return to the States, is just the type of spark Sock needs to supercharge his career. He's advanced to the third round the two previous years at the U.S. Open. Expect Sock to pull off a couple of upsets and reach at least the fourth round this year.
Grigor Dimitrov Becomes Highest-Ranked Young Gun
Dimitrov is establishing himself as the cream of the crop of up-and-coming players. He made his debut in the top 10 after reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon. He's only three spots behind Milos Raonic, who is ranked No. 6.
Look for that to change after the U.S. Open. Raonic reached the fourth round last year and has massive points to defend throughout the U.S. Open series. Meanwhile, Dimitrov lost in the first round last year and has few points to defend. Any decent showing at the U.S. Open could propel him into the top five, ahead of Raonic.
This will be Dimitrov's chance to make a big run on the rankings. Most of the players ranked just ahead of him—David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Raonic—all reached the fourth round or better at the 2013 U.S. Open. A semifinal or finals appearance could have Dimitrov knocking at the door of the top four.
Li Na Will Experience More Setbacks
Usually when you hear about a coaching split after a poor showing in back-to-back Grand Slams, it's the player who cuts ties. But it was Carlos Rodriguez who split from Li Na. The two-time Slam champion was reportedly in tears.
Even with the firm guidance of Rodriguez, Li struggled with focus. Without him, she could return to the days of routine meltdowns. The recent poor performances, her age and the departure of Rodriguez all point to rough times ahead for Li.
Roger Federer Builds on Wimbledon Performance
Although Federer showed some signs of fatigue during his Wimbledon match, he never looked worn out. Djokovic simply outplayed Federer. That's good news for Federer.
Knowing he can go toe-to-toe in a five-setter with the No. 1-ranked player has to give Federer renewed confidence about his chances to add that elusive 18th Slam title. Federer will build on his Wimbledon success and reach at least the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows.
Serena Williams Rebounds from Turbulent Tourneys
While the tennis world was still busy debating the source of Serena Williams' woes, she had already committed to defending her title at the Swedish Open, which starts July 14.
Last year Williams made a detour to the clay courts of Bastad, Sweden, before going on to win the U.S. Open and the year-end championships. Look for Williams to skip a few of the tournaments on the U.S. Open series and set her sights on defending her title.
Novak Djokovic Reaches Another Final
Djokovic will no longer carry the burden of multiple Slam finals losses with him. Now that he's reclaimed the No. 1 ranking, Djokovic can play without the many doubts that he had about his game. Still pumped over his Wimbledon win and No. 1 ranking, Djokovic will power his way to another Slam final.