US Open Tennis 2011 Draw: 10 Biggest Winners and Losers
The US Open draw ceremony took place on Friday, paving the way to greatness for many players.
Of course, the luck of the draw plays a big role in determining who will lift the trophy on September 11th.
Here I will take a look at five players who are either very excited or disappointed with what happened on Friday.
I will go in-depth with the winners and losers at the draw. I will describe the most likely pathways for players, including five-time champion Roger Federer and rising star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, if they want a shot at the crown. This will include their opponents and where they are likely to lose.
Without further ado, the biggest winners and losers of the US draw.
Winner: Juan Martin Del Potro
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2009 champion del Potro was considered a dark horse entering the tournament. The fact that he received a dream draw only helps his claim.
His first match is a gimme, against Italian Filippo Volandri, a veteran Italian whose ranking peaked at No. 27 and now, nearing the end of his career, has sunken to No. 86. Although Volandri made a shock semifinal run in Belgrade, he is not comfortable on hard courts.
The Argentine continues his run with Slovakian journeyman Karol Beck and most likely No. 11 seed Gilles Simon. Although Simon is ranked higher, del Potro took him out in straight sets at Wimbledon, and his game is much better suited for hard courts.
Given that del Potro takes out Simon, he will either get hot home favorite John Isner or injured world No. 6 Robin Soderling.
No matter the result, the match will take a toll on these players, as big-serving Isner's matches tend to go the distance.
Isner and delPo both play big-hitting tennis, and the Argentine has a much higher degree of it; if lady luck gives him that, del Potro, who claims a 3-0 head-to-head lead, will progress into the quarters.
Soderling has had injury issues and hasn't played on hard-court since February. If he doesn't pull out or lose earlier, his run will end against the Argentine.
Until the quarterfinals, Juan Martin shouldn't really suffer any bumps in the road, until he gets a likely encounter with number four seed and second favorite Andy Murray. The Brit holds a 5-1 advantage, and won when the two met in the New York quarterfinals three years ago.
The fight should be a great one if we get this match, and although Murray will enter as the favorite, at his best del Potro would give him a run for his money.
If he wins, of course, many more tough matches are to follow. The most realistic result is a quarterfinal loss, but since the draw opens up nicely, he could have the tank full for his quarterfinal encounter.
Loser: Roger Federer
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Already on the decline, No. 3 Roger Federer's draw is chock full of players that could beat him early on.
Of course, his opening matches against Santiago Giraldo and Tomas Bellucci are only formalities, but after that the road gets tougher for the aging great.
In round three, the tennis world gets to witness of clash of the eras when 30 year-old Federer meets 18-year old Bernard Tomic for the first time. Tomic is a recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist and will prove a tough test for Fed.
Next, Federer will most likely get tricky Serb Viktor Troicki. The 15th seed is in the midst of his best season ever, and he reached the No. 12 spot earlier this year. Roger holds a 2-0 head-to-head lead, including a 6-2, 6-2 shellacking at Doha in January.
Although Troicki is a fantastic player, Roger should be able to take him out.
If Fed finds a way through to the quarterfinals, he will probably lose to the winner of the Mardy Fish/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga match.
The athletic Tsonga has beaten Federer twice in the past months, once at Wimbledon and then again in Montreal. Tsonga clearly has the momentum and the confidence to take out the Swiss, and he has proved to beat him in both majors and on hard courts.
Fish, who has achieved a career-best ranking of No. 7, enters playing by far the best tennis of his life. So far on this American hard-court swing, he has won Atlanta, came runner-up in LA and Montreal, and beaten Rafael Nadal en route to a semifinal appearance in Cincinatti.
The winner of that match should be considered the favorite against a stumbling Federer.
Even if he finds his way through that match, he will need to beat two of the other top players in the world. It will be tough enough to get out of quarter, much less the entire draw.
Winner: Ernests Gulbis
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Surging Ernests Gulbis opens his US Open campaign with a seed who is struggling mightily. Mikhail Youzhny, a semifinalist in Flushing Meadows last year, enters as a very cold 16th seed. He dropped both his hard-court matches this summer, and with Gulbis coming in off a win in LA, he should be the favorite.
The next round is an easy win, as Gulbis will get a journeyman, either Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Gilles Muller.
Both these players are outside the top 60, and they have both already peaked. If Gulbis gets by Youzhny, he will have no problem taking out whoever he faces next.
Another player who has been in decline for the past year is Austrian Jurgen Melzer, the most likely third round opponent for Gulbis. Melzer is a solid player, but has amassed only a 17-16 record this year, and is better off on clay than hard.
Latvian Gulbis is a very on-and-off player, so if he is on, a trip to the fourth should be forthcoming. If he is not, well then, it is more likely that he will lose in the first round.
The almost certain fourth round encounter for Gulbis is Rafa Nadal, the world's No. 2 player, and the defending champion in New York. Again, with Nadal ailing, the Latvian could pull off the surprise upset, but a loss is more likely.
Gulbis' ranking means a first round exit should be most likely, but the draw should propel him into the fourth round, at least.
Loser: Robin Soderling
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Aside from the fact that Robin Soderling is injured, it will be tough for the world No. 6 to go late into the tourney due to a very tough draw.
The Swede opens with a qualifier yet to be named, and as long as his injured hand doesn't get worse, he should win that match.
The second round match is an issue, as Soderling will probably face fast-rising American Alex Bogomolov. The American has climbed up the draw with impressive wins over the likes of Jo-Wilfired Tsonga and Andy Murray.
Based on how serious Soderling's hand injury is, he could lose this early. If he fights his way through, the run will end against an on-form, big-serving John Isner, who will end Robin's run in the third round.
It surprised me to see the Swede in the draw, but now it is sure that his time there will be short.
Winner: David Ferrer
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David Ferrer is always there. When you think he's done there he is, in the Australian Open semis or the Monte Carlo finals.
At the US Open, he will be seeded No. 5 and have a pair of easy matches against veterans. First, Russian Andreev, followed by American Blake.
Ferrer follows those matches with a match-up against Florain Mayer, who is having a career year but has not played well on hard courts. His recent struggles are a sign that he is not prepared for the US Open.
Ferrer should have no issues dismissing these three players before running into either Andy Roddick or Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round.
Compatriots Almagro and Ferrer are rather similar players, both natural clay-court players. However, it is clear that Ferrer can better adapt his game to the faster surface in New York. Altough this match will be a battle, I see Ferrer through if the two Spaniards are to meet.
Just a few months ago, hometown favorite Roddick would have been picked over Ferrer. However, in July, on Roddick's home turf in Austin, a resilient Ferrer took him out in three grueling sets.
Roddick's form has been way off recently, and it is a very big possibility that he loses very early on. In fact, he hasn't been to the quarterfinal of a major since the Australian Open in 2010.
After that round comes a rematch of the 2007 quarterfinal with Rafael Nadal. In the 2007 edition, Ferrer prevailed in four sets.
With Nadal visibly ailing, Ferrer, who also took out his compatriot in this year's Australian Open, has a chance to win. Altough Nadal is still the favorite, Ferrer might once again reappear.
With a bunch of players that Ferrer is suited to beat, he should have no trouble getting to the quarterfinals. And, who knows, he might beat Nadal again.
Loser: Tomas Berdych
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Tomas Berdych was riding high. He had recently beaten Roger Federer, and was serving for the first set against Novak Djokovic.
Then, he got broken, lost the set, and retired due to an injured shoulder.
To make matters worse, he was handed a terrible US Open draw. Although he opens with what seems like an easy match against Romain Jouan, Berdych knows all about losing first rounds of Slams to French qualifiers. (See: Robert, Stephane).
Still, Berdych should be able to take out his first foe. His next match is relatively easy as well against either Fabio Fognini or Horacio Zeballos.
The third round presents more of a challenge when, if all goes according to plan, he runs into dangerous Serb Janko Tipsarevic, the man who knocked Berdych out in Montreal three weeks ago. The 20th seed has also beaten Tomas in both their other prior meetings.
If the Czech figures out a way to defeat Tipsarevic, the road only gets tougher, with world No. 7 Gael Monfils, and probably No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
With his shoulder hurting, it is tough to see Berdych go any further than the fourth round.
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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been playing great tennis as of late. Since coming back from a two-love sets deficit at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, his confidence has been soaring. Although he does have a tough draw, every player is the type that Jo-Willy knows how to beat.
Early matches will also be a breeze for the Frenchman, who gets his first test in the third round against Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco has had a tough year, and although he is a good hard-court players, he will beat himself in a long match.
After the Spaniard, the US Open's best early match should take place between Tsonga and 29-year old American Mardy FIsh. These two have very similar, attacking styles of play, but Fish has inured his heel and will be doing a lot of running against the big-hitting Frenchman.
Roger Federer, Tsonga's likely quarterfinal opponent, is the favorite, but it is clear that Tsonga should win this match.
He will head in full of momentum, and after beating Roger twice in a row, a declining Federer will succumb to the fast-rising Tsonga.
Jo-Willy's run will probably end in the semis or the finals because of the amount of tough matches he will have to play to get there.
Although it seems that he has a very tough draw, none of these players are the type that bother Tsonga, and Federer is probably the lone top four seed he can take out.
Tsonga should make it all the way to the semifinals and potentially farther although his durability in long matches is not the best, so it will be tough to have four consecutive tough matches.
Loser: Marin Cilic
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Marin Cilic may have the hardest first-round draw of any seed. The Croat was drawn to face Ryan Harrison, a rising American superstar looking to please the home crowd.
Cilic has had a tough year, and even if he wins that first round encounter, he won't go any further.
In round two awaits hard-hitting Australian phenom Bernard Tomic, against whom Cilic will be the considerable underdog.
Even if Marin somehow hits a run of good form in NY, he is part of the toughest quarter, filled with guys who would usually beat him.
This list includes Harrison, Tomic, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfired Tsonga and Mardy Fish.
Due to the fact that he has a tough draw, Cilic's time at the Open will be very short-lived.
Winner: Andy Murray
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Andy Murray was handed the easiest quarter of any top seed for the US Open.
The second-highest ranked player in his parts is Robin Soderling, who was suspected to pull out due to a hand injury.
Murray's stiffest competition until the quarterfinals comes from Juan Martin del Potro, who will surely give Andy a run for his money.
Just like all other top players, Murray has quite easy early matches, against the likes of Somdev Devveraman and Robin Hasse. Following those rounds, he should get serving machine Feliciano Lopez in round three.
Although beating the Spaniard may seem like a daunting task, Murray is arguably the games best returner, and tends to play better against players who take pride in their serve.
Lopez's ground-strokes are sub-par and Murray can simply play balls to his backhand, by far the Spaniard's weaker flank.
Matches do get interesting as Andy should get Stan Wawrinka, the same man that knocked him out of this very tournament last year, in round four.
However, Murray's play in Slams has been solid this year, and Swiss Wawrinka has been a tad off his game. Murray needs to get himself on the offensive, something he has refused to do too many times in the past.
If Murray plays correctly, he should have no problem getting to the quarters where it is probable that he faces 2009 champion del Potro. This match should be a great one, but with delPo forced to play some tough matches, Murray should be considered the favorite.
Murray could probably be considered the favorite for the entire tournament. He has been better than Nadal on American hard-courts and Djokovic, the most likely final foe, just lost to Murray in Cincinatti, and his draw is significantly harder.
With an easy run into the quarterfinals, Murray should have enough energy to go all the way to his first Slam championship.
Loser: Ivan Dodig
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One of this year's biggest surprises has been the emergence of Ivan Dodig. Dodig won a tournament in Zagreb and stunned Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati a few weeks ago.
However, lady luck did not cast a great draw on the Croat. He opens with dangerous Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who has been struggling this year, but still has great talent.
Even if he gets through that, Mr. Invincible Novak Djokovic is up next, and here Dodig has little chance.
Dodig has little to no chance of advancing past round two, which rarely happens to a seeded player.