At this year's US Open, I predict a top-five seed will go down in the second round, three unseeded players will reach the Round of 16, a top-four seed will miss the semis and we will see a familiar final. Here are my picks.
Novak Djokovic (1) def. Conor Niland
Djokovic's right-shoulder injury is a concern heading into the year's final major, but it shouldn't hamper him against the qualifier.
Carlos Berlocq def. Pere Riba
These are clay-court specialists fighting for the right to get destroyed by the No. 1 player in the world in Round 2. The edge goes to Berlocq, whose 3-15 career mark on hard courts is slightly better than Riba's 1-8.
Potito Starace def. Michael Berrer
Both of these players have dreadful records at the US Open, but Berrer is a little better on this surface.
Nikolay Davydenko def. Ivan Dodig (32)
Davydenko hasn't lost in the first round here in a decade.
Alexandr Dolgopolov (22) def. Frederico Gil
Gil is 1-12 in Grand Slams, while Dolgopolov reached the quarters at his last hard-court major.
Kei Nishikori def. Flavio Cipolla
Nishikori has had great success in his two appearances here, reaching the fourth and third round.
Ivo Karlovic def. Fernando Gonzalez
Karlovic has beaten Gonzalez both times they've played, and both times in straight sets.
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Richard Gasquet (13)
This is not a good first-round draw for Gasquet. Stakhovsky defeated him in straight sets on the hard courts of Toronto last year.
Tomas Berdych (9) def. Romainn Jouan
Berdych has lost in the first round here two of the past three years, but he should get past the qualifier.
Fabio Fognini def. Horacio Zeballos
Fognini beat Zeballos in straight sets at the 2007 qualifiers here and he's having a much better season.
Philipp Petzschner def. Albert Ramos
Petzschner is 3-0 in first-round matches here, while Ramos is a US Open rookie.
Janko Tipsarevic (20) def. Augustin Gensse
Tipsarevic reached the third round last year.
Marcel Granollers (31) def. Xavier Malisse
Granollers has won his first-round match in each of the past two years, while Malisse hasn't won a match at this event since 2007.
Albert Montanes def. Mikhail Kukushkin
Montanes broke out here last year, reaching Round 16 at a major for the first time in his career.
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Pablo Andujar
Gael Monfils (7) def. Grigor Dimitrov
Monfils is a defending quarterfinalist.
Roger Federer (3) def. Santiago Giraldo
Federer begins his tournament against a man who is 2-10 in majors.
Thomaz Bellucci def. Dudi Sela
Bellucci is 3-0 in first-round matches here.
Bernard Tomic def. Michael Yani
Tomic made an incredible run from the qualifiers to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. In his US Open debut, he faces a qualifier.
Marin Cilic (27) def. Ryan Harrison
Radek Stepanek (23) def. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Stepanek has won his last three meetings with Kohlschreiber, including a four-set win at the 2009 US Open.
Juan Monaco def. Andreas Seppi
Neither of these guys have had much success at this event, so the slight edge goes to Monaco, who bested Seppi in three sets on the clay of Rome earlier this year.
Tommy Haas def. Jonathan Dasnieres De Veigy
Haas hasn't won a Grand Slam match since the 2010 Australian, but he hasn't lost in the first round here since 1996.
Viktor Troicki (15) def. Alejandro Falla
Troicki is 34-18 this year; Falla is 8-14.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11) def. Yen-Hsun Lu
Tsonga is 7-3 at the US Open.
Sergei Bubka def. Andreas Haider-Maurer
Haider-Maurer lost his debut match at the Open last year. With limited experience, he could be ripe for a loss to the qualifier.
Marsel Ilhan def. Frank Dancevic
For a guy ranked 100th in the world, Ilhan is a surprising 4-5 all-time in Grand Slams.
Fernando Verdasco (19) def. Jarkko Nieminen
Verdasco has won the last two meetings, both on hard courts.
Michael Llodra (29) def. Victor Hanescu
Llodra beat Hanescu in straight sets at last year's Open.
Kevin Anderson def. Go Soeda
Anderson made it to the third round in his debut here last year.
Thiemo de Bakker def. Malek Jaziri
De Bakker made it to the third round in his debut here last year.
Mardy Fish (8) def. Tobias Kamke
Fish enters this year's Open as the American favorite, having reached the quarters and the fourth round in his last two appearances here.
Louk Sorensen def. Rogerio Dutra Da Silva
Sorensen lucked out when Robin Soderling withdrew with illness. He is 1-2 versus Dutra Da Silva, but won the last meeting and is playing some of the best tennis of his career.
I had an opportunity to watch Sorensen during qualifying and while he has a big forehand and a strong return, he does not have a great serve. Still, it is impressive that a guy ranked 614th in the world could make it this far.
Alex Bogomolov Jr. def. Steve Johnson
Bogomolov had a breakout performance reaching the third round at Wimbledon and has far more experience than his fellow American.
Robby Ginepri def. Joao Souza
Ginepri is usually good for at least one win at this event.
John Isner (28) def. Marcos Baghdatis
Isner is 2-0 vs. Baghdatis, including a straight-sets win on the hard courts of Montreal this year.
Juan Martin Del Potro (18) def. Filippo Volandri
The 2009 champ is on a seven-match winning streak at the US Open.
Karol Beck def. Diego Junqueira
Beck's best result at a major came here in 2004, when he reached Round 16. Junqueira is an Open rookie.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver
In the battle of Spanish hyphens, Garcia-Lopez is 3-0 lifetime against Gimeno-Traver.
Gilles Simon (12) def. Ricardo Mello
Simon has reached the third round in each of the past three years.
Stanislas Wawrinka (14) def. Maximo Gonzalez
Wawrinka reached the quarters last year.
Donald Young def. Lukas Lacko
Young is just 2-6 here, but he should get past the qualifier.
Dmitry Tursunov def. Steve Darcis
Tursunov beat Darcis in straight sets in their only ever meeting back in 2005, and the Russian is having the better year.
Juan Ignacio Chela (24) def. Marinko Matosevic
Chela defeated Matosevic in the first round of this summer's Wimbledon.
Feliciano Lopez (25) def. Tatsuma Ito
Lopez has won 27 matches this year; Ito has played 15 matches in his career.
Vasek Pospisil def. Lukas Rosol
Rosol is 0-1 at the US Open, so the edge goes to the qualifier who has already been winning here last week.
Robin Haase def. Rui Machado
Haase didn't drop a set in beating Machado twice last year.
Andy Murray (4) def. Somdev Devvarman
Murray does his best work at the hard-court Grand Slams.
David Ferrer (5) def. Igor Andreev
Ferrer has won the last three meetings.
James Blake def. Jesse Huta Galung
Blake hasn't missed the third round in his last eight US Opens.
Olivier Rochus def. Jean-Rene Lisnard
Rochus has plenty of experience to beat the qualifier.
Adrian Mannarino def. Florian Mayer (26)
Mayer hasn't won here since 2006, while Mannarino reached the second round in his debut last year.
Andy Roddick (21) def. Michael Russell
Roddick hasn't lost to Russell since he was 17 years old.
Marc Gicquel def. Jack Sock
Sock has the greatest name in tennis, but he's also ranked 553rd in the world.
Denis Istomin def. Ryan Sweeting
Istomin is 2-0 in first-round matches here, while Sweeting has dropped his last four.
Nicolas Almagro (10) def. Julien Benneteau
Almagro has reached the third round in each of the past four years.
Ernests Gulbis def. Mikhail Youzhny (16)
Gulbis beat Youzhny twice last year, including once on hard courts.
Gilles Muller def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Muller hasn't played here since reaching the quarters in 2008, but he's coming off a third-round appearance at Wimbledon.
Igor Kunitsyn def. Matthias Bachinger
Kunitsyn's experience should win out.
Jurgen Melzer (17) def. Eric Prodon
Melzer reached the fourth round last year.
Ivan Ljubicic (30) def. Blaz Kavcic
Ljubicic hasn't won here since 2007, but Kavcic is a US Open first-timer.
David Nalbandian def. Bobby Reynolds
Nalbandian crushed Reynolds, 6-1, 6-1, on the hard courts of Sweden three years ago.
Robert Farah def. Nicolas Mahut
Mahut is winless at the Open since 2006. Farah is an emotional qualifier capable of a win here.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. Andrey Golubev
The defending champ should role.
Novak Djokovic (1) def. Carlos Berlocq
Djokovic has won nine titles this year; Berlocq has won 12 matches.
Nikolay Davydenko def. Potito Starace
Davydenko is 2-0 against Starace.
Kei Nishikori def. Alexandr Dolgopolov (22)
Nishikori has a better track record at the US Open.
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Ivo Karlovic
Stakhovsky is 2-1 versus Karlovic, with all three meetings coming on hard courts.
Tomas Berdych (9) def. Fabio Fognini
Fognini beat Berdych in three sets in their only meeting back in 2009, but that was on clay and Fognini is 1-7 in hard-court majors.
Janko Tipsarevic (20) def. Philipp Petzschner
Tipsarevic won in straight sets in a meeting this year on the hard courts of Miami.
Albert Montanes def. Marcel Granollers (31)
Montanes has won the last two matches against Granollers and reached the fourth round here last year. Granollers has never made it to the third round of a major.
Gael Monfils (7) def. Juan Carlos Ferrero
This has the potential to be one of the better second-round matches. In their only meeting, Ferrero won in straight sets, but that was two years ago. Since then, he has dropped to 103rd in the rankings and Monfils has reached at least Round 16 in each of the past three years here.
Roger Federer (3) def. Thomaz Bellucci
The five-time champ should overmatch the three-time second-rounder.
Marin Cilic (27) def. Bernard Tomic
It took Cilic five sets to get past Tomic in the second round of last year's Australian Open. Expect another tight match from these two youngsters.
Radek Stepanek (23) def. Juan Monaco
Stepanek is 3-0 against Monaco.
Viktor Troicki (15) def. Tommy Haas
This would've been a much better match if played two years ago. Now, Haas is 477th in the world.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11) def. Sergei Bubka
Tsonga ousted Bubka in two quick sets at Doha this year.
Ferando Verdasco (19) def. Marsel Ilhan
Verdasco is looking to make his third-straight quarterfinals here.
Kevin Anderson def. Michael Llodra (29)
Anderson took out Llodra in straight sets in their only meeting back in 2008.
Mardy Fish (8) def. Thiemo de Bakker
The American hasn't missed the third round here since 2007.
Alex Bogomolov Jr. def. Louk Sorensen
Bogomolov avoids playing Soderling and instead, gets to play the qualifier.
John Isner (28) def. Robby Ginepri
Ginepri is the past; Isner is the future.
Juan Martin Del Potro (18) def. Karol Beck
Beck hasn't won a main-draw match here in seven years, so chances are he won't get past the 2009 champ.
Gilles Simon (12) def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Garcia-Lopez has never made the third round here; Simon has done it the past three years.
Stanislas Wawrinka (14) def. Donald Young
Wawrinka made the quarters last year, while Young hasn't won a match at this event since 2007.
Juan Ignacio Chela (24) def. Dmitry Tursunov
Chela is 2-0 against Tursunov, with both matches coming on American hard courts.
Feliciano Lopez (25) def. Vasek Pospisil
Lopez should have no problem with the 21-year-old making his main-draw debut at a major.
Andy Murray (4) def. Robin Haase
Haase is actually 1-0 against Murray, but that victory came three years ago. Murray is coming off a title at Cincinnati that he won without dropping a set.
James Blake def. David Ferrer (5)
Blake is 2-0 against Ferrer, including a straight-sets win on the hard courts of Indian Wells last year. The American is playing better of late, having scored three Top 40 wins over the past month, and he's reached the third round here the past three years.
Ferrer played just two hard-court matches leading up to this event and he lost in the second round here two years ago. With the crowd behind him, Blake could pull off the upset.
Olivier Rochus def. Adrian Mannarino
Rochus crushed Mannarino in their only career meeting last year.
Andy Roddick (21) def. Marc Gicquel
Roddick hasn't dropped a set in beating Gicquel four times, including three matches at majors.
Denis Istomin def. Nicolas Almagro (10)
Istomin didn't drop a set in beating Almagro twice last year.
Ernests Gulbis def. Gilles Muller
Gulbis is experiencing a resurgence this summer, winning Los Angeles with victories over Malisse, Del Potro and Fish, and defeating Llodra en route to a Round 16 finish at Montreal.
Igor Kunitsyn def. Jurgen Melzer (17)
Kunitsyn beat Melzer in their only career meeting back in 2008 on clay, and the Russian is a better hard-court player. The Austrian, meanwhile, went 0-2 during US Open tuneups.
David Nalbandian def. Ivan Ljubicic (30)
Ljubicic went 5-2 against Nalbandian from 2004 to 2007, but the Argentine won the most recent meeting last year on hard courts, 7-5, 6-0.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. Robert Farah
Nadal has won three titles this year; Farah has played three main-draw matches in his career—and lost them all.
Novak Djokovic (1) def. Nikolay Davydenko
Djokovic has won the last two meetings, including a straight-sets victory this year in Montreal.
Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Kei Nishikori
Stakhovsky bounced Nishikori from the second round of this year's French Open.
Janko Tipsarevic (20) def. Tomas Berdych (9)
Tipsarevic is 3-0 in main-draw matches against Berdych, including a recent straight-sets win in Montreal.
Gael Monfils (7) def. Albert Montanes
Montanes is 2-0 against Monfils, but both of those wins came on clay and Monfils is the better hard-court player.
Roger Federer (3) def. Marin Cilic (27)
Federer is 2-0 versus Cilic.
Radek Stepanek (23) def. Viktor Troicki (15)
Stepanek is 4-2 against Troicki, won the most recent meeting and took home the title at a tuneup in Washington.
Fernando Verdasco (19) def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11)
In their only meeting, Verdasco beat Tsonga in the 2009 Australian Open quarters. The Spaniard also has the better history here, making consecutive quarterfinals. Federer should be very happy with this result.
Mardy Fish (8) def. Kevin Anderson
Fish hasn't missed the fourth round here since 2007, while Anderson has never made it that far.
John Isner (28) def. Alex Bogomolov
Isner is 3-0 lifetime versus Bogomolv.
Juan Martin Del Potro (18) def. Gilles Simon (12)
Del Potro has won the past two meetings, including a tight three-setter at this year's Wimbledon.
Stanislas Wawrinka (14) def. Juan Ignacio Chela (24)
Wawrinka leads the series, 4-2, and beat Chela in straight sets at last year's Open.
Andy Murray (4) def. Feliciano Lopez (25)
Murray has beaten Lopez all five times they've played.
James Blake def. Olivier Rochus
Blake has won the last four meetings, including the most recent one at the 2009 Open.
Andy Roddick (21) def. Denis Istomin
Roddick hasn't reached Round 16 in three years, but things are set up nicely for him.
Ernests Gulbis def. Igor Kunitsyn
Gulbis should be able to ride the momentum of his win in Los Angeles all the way into Round 16.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. David Nalbandian
Nalbandian beat Nadal twice in 2007, but Nadal has won the last two meetings.
Novak Djokovic (1) def. Sergiy Stakhovsky
Djokovic is 2-0 versus Stakhovsky.
Gael Monfils (7) def. Janko Tipsarevic (20)
Monfils has beaten Tipsarevic three times over the past two years, including a win at last year's Open and a recent victory in D.C.
Roger Federer (3) def. Radek Stepanek (23)
Federer is 11-2 against Stepanek.
Mardy Fish (8) def. Fernando Verdasco (19)
Fish is 3-1 versus Verdasco, with the only loss coming on clay.
Juan Martin Del Potro (18) def. John Isner (28)
Del Potro is 3-0 against Isner.
Stanislas Wawrinka (14) def. Andy Murray (4)
Murray is coming off a win in Cincinnati and he holds a 5-4 advantage against Wawrinka, but he hasn't had much success here the past two years, including a third-round loss to Wawrinka last year (after which the Swiss player went on to reach the quarters).
Andy Roddick (21) def. James Blake
Roddick leads, 8-3, including a win at Indian Wells this year.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. Ernests Gulbis
Nadal is 4-0 against Gulbis, beating him in straight sets on the hard courts of Doha this year.
Novak Djokovic (1) def. Gael Monfils (7)
Djokovic hasn't lost in eight meetings.
Roger Federer (3) def. Mardy Fish (8)
Federer is 6-1 versus Fish, beating him last year in the Cincinnati Finals.
Juan Martin Del Potro (18) def. Stanislas Wawrinka (14)
Del Potro has won the last two meetings and didn't drop a match the last time he played here.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. Andy Roddick (21)
This would be their first meeting at a Grand Slam in seven years, which is pretty surprising. Roddick won that US Open match in straight sets, but Nadal has won six of eight since then, including their most recent encounter last year on the hard courts of London.
Roger Federer (3) def. Novak Djokovic (1)
Djokovic has lost just twice in 59 matches this year and yet both of those losses give reason to believe he won't make the finals here.
The first defeat came at the hands of Federer in their most recent meeting at the French semis. The second loss came last week, when Djokovic retired down a set and 3-0 to Murray in the Cincinnati Finals. The Serb's shoulder injury coupled with Federer's determination to win at least one more major makes me believe the Swiss player will move on.
Rafael Nadal (2) def. Juan Martin Del Potro (18)
Nadal is 6-3 against Del Potro, including wins this year at Indian Wells and Wimbledon.
Roger Federer (3) def. Rafael Nadal (2)
Nadal has not had a good hard-court season this summer. He lost to Dodig in his first match at Montreal and then fell to Fish in straight sets in the quarters of Cincinnati. Despite winning last year's US Open, hard courts remain Nadal's worst surface. To that end, while he may be 17-8 overall against Federer, the series is tied, 4-4, on hard courts.
Federer hasn't lit the hard-court season on fire either this summer, but he's won two more matches than Nadal since Wimbledon and is 26-6 on the surface this year, while his rival trails at 21-6.
In 2008, Federer entered this event needing to win the whole thing in order to avoid his first calendar year without a Grand Slam title since '02. He won.
He faces the same challenge over the next two weeks and I believe history will repeat itself.
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