The top four on the ATP tour will soon be in action in Montreal, then Cincinnati and then the last Grand Slam of the year.
Will Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal once again fight it out in the finals as they have done in most of the tournaments they have participated in this year? Will the Serb continue to have the upper hand?
When a great player reaches his peak, which is around 22-25, it is not unusual to find him winning three slams in one year. Sampras did it. Federer did it. Nadal did it. Maybe Djokovic will do it too.
But I feel Djokovic has given too much of himself in the tournaments till now. Can he keep up that crazy form? It is possible, of course, but not very probable.
Andy Murray is also 24 and hugely talented. After the post-Australian Open slump, he picked up momentum in the clay season and his performances in every tournament have been excellent. He almost defeated Djokovic at Rome. He played at an inspired level in his Davis Cup matches. I am certainly hopeful that Murray, who is no less talented than Djokovic, will play inspired tennis at the US Open this year.
What about Nadal, the defending champion? He had his superb run last year. But one cannot say he is in decline this year. After all he reached eight finals and won three of them including one Grand Slam title.
It is true that Nadal has not displayed so far the awesome form he had displayed last year. Even on the clay of Roland Garros, he had appeared vulnerable and I am convinced it was just his strong will which pulled him through the first round there. Something was troubling him.
Was it an injury? He certainly gave some indications of that. He has been plagued by fitness problems, catching a virus at the beginning of the year and then injuring himself at the Australian Open. He seemed to be carrying some injury even at the French Open and at Wimbledon.
Or was it something mental because of the repeated defeats suffered at the hands of Djokovic?
I am inclined to believe it was the former, e.g. some fitness problems.
Nadal is famous for his warrior mentality. Even as a 17-year-old he had defeated the mighty Federer the very first time he had faced him.
He had lost at Wimbledon two times to Federer, wept and considered the possibility that he would probably never get the chance to win the coveted crown. But he had bounced back to defeat the Swiss Maestro the next year.
He had then defeated Federer on the hardcourt of the Australian Open.
He had proved his detractors wrong by winning the US Open. I remember there were so many articles claiming that Nadal would never win at Flushing Meadows. Some of the pseudo statistician fans had even "proved" that Nadal could not win on the fast hardcourts.
Can we believe that this man who never says die is mentally defeated? I don't think so. He is biding his time, he is working on solutions and I wouldn't be surprised if he has worked out how to win against the Serb.
In my opinion, the only man who stands in his way is Andy Murray. Should Murray be on the opposite side of the draw, one of them has the best chance of winning the US Open as Nadal has the game to beat Federer and Murray has the game to beat Djokovic.
If they are on the same side, Djokovic has the best chance because then Nadal and Murray are going to bash each other out of contention in the semifinals.
So, Djokovic's chances of winning the third grand slam of the year would depend a good deal on the draw.
If Nadal and Murray both reach the final, who will win?
Nadal is a wounded lion wanting to reclaim his kingdom. But Murray is a hungry lion. Hard to call this one. May the best man win!
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