Predictions in the men's tennis game haven't changed much over the last few years: Nadal or Federer, take your pick. Maybe a surprise here and there at the Australian Open, maybe a new face here or there at the U.S. Open, but for the sake of change, here are some bold predictions for the remainder of the 2010 men's tour.
2010 French Open
The French Open goes to Nadal, the king of clay until recent knee tendinitis saw him bounced early in 2009. He's back in full force, however, and certainly will win this year, or so the experts say.
But what if Nadal is still off the map? His knee problems have stymied his efforts at winning a title for almost a year. It is plausible that Nadal could be bumped earlier than expected from the French Open draw if his knee problems kick up much like they did in his loss to Andy Murray at this year's Australian Open. Come to think of it, Nadal hasn't proven he has returned to the World No. 1 form that dominated the men's game in 2008.
Novak Djokovic has been the worst player on tour among the "big four" in 2010. His game and confidence seem to be headed down a slippery slope. With nothing to latch on to, he has fired his American coach Todd Martin in hopes of returning to the form that won him his only Grand Slam title.
Djokovic has always felt at home on the clay, and has played darn good on the dirt over the years. Last year, he stuck with Nadal at Madrid in a physical and grinding match that delivered the first blow to Nadal that eventually sent him home packing early in the French Open and unable to compete at Wimbledon.
Djokovic simply has the most to prove besides the Spaniard. A return to last year's stellar clay-court performances could spell success.
Winner: Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer's Slam. But what does Roger have to prove?
His dreadful results during the hard court season may be a sign of things to come. Has he finally lost the motivation to continue his reign over the tour? Unlikely, but maybe.
Andy Murray will certainly be under enormous pressure again, playing in front of a blood thirsty home crowd awaiting the end of a title drought on the lawns of the All-England Club.
Well, I for one would not want to be in that situation, not after under-achieving at the outset of 2010. Another Grand Slam crumbling under pressure is definitely a possibility.
It looks like the fourth final could be a charm for the American who has added a lot more game to that thunderous serve of his.
Winner: Andy Roddick
2010 U.S. Open
Is a repeat likely for anyone in a Slam besides Nadal or Federer? Probably not, but that's why I'm here.
By late summer, Nadal's knees are completely buckled and Federer's mind is on the already achieved, not to mention the twins and Mirka.
Andy Murray is still recovering from another lost opportunity at Wimbledon, losing yet again to Federer in the semifinals.
Andy Roddick is completely drained from his Wimbledon triumph, and for the second straight year he loses before the American No. 2, John Isner, who has another impressive Open and puts himself in prime position to break into the top 10.
Meanwhile, Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro returns from injury and mashes the ball with the same heavy and flat forehands that won him the title a year ago.
Winner: Juan Martin Del Potro
The men's game would certainly be turned upside down if these bold predictions came true. Federer and Nadal not winning another Grand Slam in the calendar year, I must be crazy?
Probably, but maybe not?
Regardless, it should be an exciting remainder of the year.
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