US Open Tennis 2014 Predictions: Sleepers Who Will Make Deep Tournament Runs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2014

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28:  Jerzy Janowicz of Poland celebrates a point in his men's singles match against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland on day four of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 28, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The U.S. Open marks the final stop on the Grand Slam schedule for 2014. Players will arrive in New York with a wide range of goals—some will be looking to win the tournament; others will be aiming to make up for a disappointing season by at least winning a couple matches.

It's pretty much the opposite of the Australian Open, which opens the yearly major slate. Instead of looking to jump-start a great season, it's a chance to end on a high note heading into the latter stages of the year and while also building some confidence for 2015. It's the circle of tennis.

So let's take a closer look at three players who haven't made much of an impact at the Grand Slam events this season but are capable of making deep runs in the U.S. Open. They are also names you should hear a lot more about in the years ahead.


Jerzy Janowicz

Janowicz looked like he was well on his way to becoming tennis' next big thing during his run to the Wimbledon semifinals last year. Then he arrived to the U.S. Open as the No. 14 seed and was sent packing in the opening round by qualifier Maximo Gonzalez.

It was a serious setback for the Polish star just as his career looked ready to take off. He's been wildly inconsistent since that point and hasn't advanced beyond the third round at a Grand Slam this season. Now he's seeking a chance to get back on track.

Though the results have remained mixed through the summer, the moments where he's flashed his immense upside are on the rise again. He edged Grigor Dimitrov in Cincinnati and ended David Goffin's extended win streak in Winston-Salem. After the latter, the ATP World Tour's official site passed along his thoughts about the state of his game.

"I didn't play so well the last few months. Luckily my tennis is looking really good and I am very happy," Janowicz said. "I felt very confident on my second serve. I was going for it from time to time and I didn't have any double faults. Someone told me I made 16 drop shots and won 11, so that's a good percentage."

All told, Janowicz is back trending in the right direction and also got a favorable draw—he's in a section with the one-dimensional Kevin Anderson. It opens the door for him to roll into the second week and beyond as long as he builds off the recent positive vibes.


Elina Svitolina

Svitolina is one of the most promising young players on the WTA Tour. The only thing the 19-year-old Ukrainian is missing so far is a deep run on one of the sport's biggest stages. There's a good chance that will end at the U.S. Open.

She's enjoyed some strong results in recent weeks. She upset fourth-ranked Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati and then backed it up with a victory over Carla Suarez Navarro. That followed a title in Baku that gave her a unique distinction, as noted by SI Tennis:

Her draw presents a chance for her to make some noise. She opens with a very winnable match against Polona Hercog and is in a section with seeded players Ekaterina Makarova, who's made it beyond the third round just one in seven US. .Open appearances, and a struggling Dominika Cibulkova.

Even though Svitolina likely isn't ready to seriously contend for a major title, don't be shocked if she reaches the Round of 16 for the first time. And the results are only going to continue improving as she gains experience at the Grand Slams.


Vasek Pospisil

Pospisil is a talented played who just hasn't been able to put it all together yet. He can hit with power off both wings, has showcased good movement and won a couple titles on doubles side, including one at Wimbledon this year.

The Canadian is coming off a strong finish in the U.S. Open series, as well. The three players to knock him out of his last three warm-up events were Milos Raonic, Richard Gasquet and Roger Federer—all top-15 players. He also had a win against Gasquet along with triumphs over Tomas Berdych, Santiago Giraldo and Radek Stepanek.

Those are the type of results fans have been expecting from him for a couple years. It allows him to heading into the U.S. Open knowing he can compete with top players. That's key as he looks to advance beyond the third round at a major for the first time.

Pospisil is certainly a sleeper in one of the most wide-open sections of the draw. Tommy Robredo and Mikhail Youzhny are the seeds, with Nick Kyrgios and Andreas Seppi also in the group. Based on his play in recent weeks, Pospisil can emerge from that section and get on a run.