This Monday the fourth and final Grand Slam of tennis starts in the form of the U.S. Open. Tennis fans from all over the world will flock to New York and Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch some of the best tennis in the world.
The problem with the next two weeks for me and thousands of other sports fans is that the U.S. Open takes place at the wrong time of year. The final slam of the year gets lost in the start of the College Football and NFL seasons.
The College Football season begins on September 3 and the NFL season starts on September 10, while the Open starts on August 31. So I have tried to look at the matchups and potential matchups at the Open that will get my TV off football and onto Tennis.
To keep my mind off football, Roger Federer may have to go through the toughest draw ever for his sixth straight U.S. Open and his world record 16th Grand Slam title. The U.S. Open may not have my full attention but these matches would certainly be required viewing for any fan.
So here are two matches that will take place and several that I hope do take place at the Open.
First Round: Roger Federer vs. Devin Britton
I have seen many of the great things Roger Federer has done on a tennis court. There is no question that he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever pick up a tennis racket.
However in this match what I am looking forward to is watching the young American Devin Britton. Since the retirements of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, American tennis has failed to dominate at the highest level.
However, depending on how good the former Ole Miss star becomes, that could all change. Britton played his way into the junior finals at Wimbledon this year, as well as the US Open juniors final last year, and won the NCAA single championship as a freshman.
While I do not think Britton will beat Federer in his first match at a grand slam. It will be interesting to see how he plays and handles himself against the number one ranked player in the world right now.
First Round: Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet
After being defeated at the French Open and missing Wimbledon due to his injured knee, Rafael Nadal makes his return to a major tournament at the U.S. Open. During his enforced absence Nadal has seem himself slip from being the number one ranked player in the world to third.
Richard Gasquet on the other hand has certainly had an interesting year so far. He failed a drug test for cocaine before the Miami Masters. His case was heard by the International Tennis Federation to determine the cause of the failed drug test.
Gasquet, who had reached as high as seventh in the world, could have been banned for two years from tennis. He was cleared after the cocaine was determined to have come from kissing a woman in a night club.
Now ranked No. 46 in the world Gasquet will make his first Grand Slam appearance since the Australian Open against Nadal.
I personally do not believe Gasquet will beat Nadal, as he has not done it in six attempts already.
Much will depend on whether Gasquet can get his mind right after the cocaine scandal, however he could be a good measuring stick on how Nadal’s knees are doing as Gasquet has the talent to force Nadal into playing some quality tennis.
It will be good to see how well Nadal runs and moves around the court because of the tendinitis in both his knees. If Gasquet can push Nadal for a few sets it will be interesting to see how well Nadal has recovered.
Third Round: Roger Federer vs. Lleyton Hewitt
If Federer can get past Britton in the first round and a possible second round match against Simon Greul, who is ranked 64th in the world and has a first round match up against a qualifier, he could find himself up against former world number one Lleyton Hewitt.
Hewitt will have to get through a first round match against Thiago Alves of Brazil, and a possible second round tie against long time rival Juan Ignacio Chela from Uruguay.
Hewitt is currently ranked 32nd in the world and has faced Federer several times in his career. However Federer has enjoyed a fine record against Hewitt and has won 13 straight matches.
Even though Hewitt has struggled against Federer his class is undoubted, and he has won two Grand Slams, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, in his career.
This could be a good match however an early exit for Hewitt, who missed the 2008 U.S. Open with a hip injury, is expected.
Fourth Round: Roger Federer vs. James Blake
If Federer can make it in to the fourth round, he could find home favourite James Blake waiting for him.
Blake should not be tested until the third round, where he could conceivably face world No. 15 Tommy Robredo, and if he can survive that test then he will find himself face-to-face with Federer.
While he has not had much success against Federer throughout his career, he has managed to defeat him before, and as world number 22nd and one of the toughest players in the draw he will be a challenge for the number one seed.
However I personally do not see Blake managing to stop the Fed express from progressing to the quarter-finals.
Fourth Round: Andy Roddick vs. Tommy Haas
After a tough but close loss in the Wimbledon final it will be nice to see how Roddick responds in the U.S. Open. Roddick should not find himself badly tested until the fourth round where he could meet a resurgent Tommy Haas.
This match could make wonderful viewing as Roddick is ranked fifth in the world, while the quick-tempered Tommy Haas has risen to 21st in the world.
While this may make compelling viewing, I believe Roddick will advance to the quarter-finals.
Quarter-finals: All four Matchups
The quarter-finals of the U.S. Open could feature some of the best tennis that has been seen all year. There are several possible matchups which would make compelling viewing.
One could be Rafael Nadal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who is ranked seventh in the world. Nadal and Tsonga played a great match in the Australian Open which Nadal just managed to come through and win.
Tsonga is the sort of player who will send Nadal all over the court and will certainly provide a test for his injured knees.
Another possible match up could be Andy Roddick against world number four Novak Djokovic. Djokovic and Roddick have verbally spared against each other throughout their careers and their potential match could be the pick of the quarter final ties.
The third quarter final match could feature Britain's Andy Murray, the second ranked player in the world against the Marat Safin the world number 58 I do not know if Safin will make it this far but I admire him as a player and believe he has the quality to reach this stage.
Murray is the highest ranked British player since Fred Perry in 1934, and with it carries a burden of expectation on his shoulders which could prove a problem as the British public are desparate for him to win the Grand Slam he so badly craves.
The last quarter final match could be between Roger Federer and Robin Soderling, a re-run of their French Open final and their match in Wimbledon back in July.
On that occasion Federer won, however he was only able to break Soderling once and much will depend on the Swedes serve. Potentially this could be one of the most explosive matches not just of the U.S. Open, but of the whole year.
Soderling has already beaten Nadal at the French Open-the only man to do so, and could conceivably topple both Nadal and Federer in the same year.
U.S. Open Semi-finals and Finals
On the start of a major football weekend with the NFL starting and college football entering its second week one thing will keep me watching the U.S. Open. If the top five seeds of Federer, Murray, Nadal, Djokovic and Roddick are playing tennis then I am certainly watching.
While most people like to see a dark horse in a tournament, or they like to see upsets, at the U.S Open I need the big names to keep my attention off the start of football for at least a few hours.
So if Tsonga and Nadal or Federer and Soderling have made it through to the second week I will be watching.
If there is not very many upsets Federer could end up playing and beating the 32nd, 22nd, 12th, fourth, and second ranked players in the world to win the U.S. Open.
I want to see if Federer can play his way though those potential pitfalls, and manage to lift the title after those two weeks.
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