US Open Draw: 13 Bold Predictions for the Men's Bracket

Solomon RyanCorrespondent IIAugust 27, 2011

US Open Draw: 13 Bold Predictions for the Men's Bracket

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    Some players don’t even want to look at it. The sight of it makes them shiver. Others glance quickly at their possible matchups hoping for the best.

    It’s crazy to think a single opponent, a single match, can change the outcome of a grand slam.

    When the US Open released the draw this year, it was no different from any other year. Some players were overcome with joy and while others felt discouraged before even hitting a single practice shot.

    With the draw in place the 2011 US Open has a lot of interesting story lines, which makes it time for bold predictions.

13. Donald Young Will Do the Best of Any American

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    Who? The player who has fallen off the map after showing so much promise? Yes, that guy. Donald Young has improved his game of late and making a surprise run is not impossible.

    It also helps that Young has little competition in the American camp, with really only three other US players who could go further in the tournament.

    The obvious choice for the best American on tour is Mardy Fish. Fish has had a great US Open series, but in grand slams he has not fared well. At Australia Fish lost in the second round to Tommy Robredo. At the French Fish lost to Gilles Simon in the third round and at Wimbledon he lost to Nadal in the quarterfinals.

    Andy Roddick is having major issues and should mull the possibility of retirement. He is getting injured more frequently, and he doesn’t have much of a game anymore.

    Ryan Harrison is overrated. His backhand is his weakest shot because he hits it softly and very short. Opponents thrive on a short backhand. In the near future Harrison can do well, but not now. We may have another Roddick in the making with his meltdowns. He needs to work on his maturity issues.

    Young has done pretty well this year beating Marcos Baghdatis and Andy Murray. Like Harrison, Young needs to improve his backhand. His serve can be very effective if he speeds it up. Usually, his slice first serve is good, but when opponents get used to it, they move closer to the baseline and pounce on it.

    Looking at the draw, Young is fortunate enough to play a qualifier in the first round and Stanislas Wawrinka in the second. Of late, Wawrinka has not been up to snuff. He lost in the second round at Wimbledon and since then, has only been past the second round of any tournament once.

    After Wawrinka, Young will probably play Juan Ignacio Chela in third round. Chela is a clay court player. After the third round I don’t see Young advancing. He has to play Andy Murray. Nothing’s impossible. Young has beaten Murray this year, but it would be a miracle.

    Young can potentially be the player to watch at the US Open.

12. Federer Will Lose in the Round of 16 or Before

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    Federer looks old. Everything about him—His body and his game. When he played Berdych in Cincinnati, he got destroyed. He was very late on his backhand and missed some easy forehands.

    Federer will coast through the first couple of rounds, but when he has to play a quality opponent, he will lose.

    If the top seed were to make it through, Federer would have to play Viktor Troicki in the round of 16. Federer got lucky because Troicki is not that good, but neither is Federer. In order for Troicki to win, he has to pound Federer’s backhand side.

11. Andy Roddick Won’t Get Past the Second Round

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    Roddick actually has a favorable draw despite his 21 ranking at the US Open this year, but that doesn’t mean his play is good enough to beat even the worst players.

    Michael Russell can be a challenge to Roddick in the first round, and the crafty veteran, Marc Gicquel, somehow always finds a way to win.

    Forget about Andy Roddick. It seems as if he can’t beat anyone. Losing to Phillip Kohlschreiber at Cincinnati was embarrassing. Truth is, Roddick has been in decline for quite some time.

    If Roddick wants to make any chance of a run, his net game and approach shots are essential. Roddick can’t beat anyone at the baseline.

10. Nadal Will Lose in the Third Round to David Nalbandian

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    You heard it here first. Nadal will lose to Nalbandian in the third round.

    Nadal hasn’t looked like himself of late. Hard courts are not his surface of choice. He doesn’t get the spin he desires.

    In order to make it far, Nadal has to switch his game completely, which is highly unlikely. He has to stop getting into long rallies and go for more shots.

    It also doesn’t help that he is very injury prone.

    Nalbandian was, and still is to a certain extent, one of the most talented players on tour. He has a huge backhand and he has a tremendous return of serve. Injuries and mental lapses have gotten the best of Nalbandian throughout his career.

    If Nalbandian can get an early lead to boost his confidence, it will be fun match to watch.

9. Andy Roddick Will Have a Meltdown

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    It’s not a question of if, as much as it is when.

    I kind of feel sorry for the guy, but at the same time I don’t. It’s the same old story for Roddick. When he is losing, he finds any possible excuse to argue with the umpire. Most recently, he hit a ball in the stands after double faulting and was given a point penalty.

    With his game deteriorating by the second, Roddick will lose his temper and his match early in the tournament.

8. Grigor Dimitrov Will Make a Similar Type Tomic Run

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    Dimitrov kind of got the short end of the stick at the draw this year because he has to play one of the best tennis players in the first round.

    That man is Gael Monfils. Known for being a head case, it will not come as a shock if Monfils loses to Dimitrov, however.

    It is smooth sailing from that point on. Dimitrov’s only challenge will come against Thomas Berdych in the round of 16.

    Dimitrov and Tomic are two players in the future who will have a huge impact on the sport of tennis.

    Tomic proved this year at Wimbledon how good he can be. Dimitrov could have done even better at Wimbledon, but Tsonga played one of his best matches to knock him out.

    Dimitrov's best surface may be grass, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to make a big run at the US Open.

    No one will want to play Dimitrov this year, or any other year, for that matter.

7. Bernard Tomic Will Have an Early Round Exit

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    After Wimbledon, Tomic has not really impressed anyone.

    It could be a sign of being young and of letting the pressure get to him, but we will have to wait and see.

    Tomic needs to improve his footwork a lot if he wants to win at the US Open. It is a whole different ballgame when the bull's eye is on your back.

    Tomic has to play Ryan Harrison in the second round or Roger Federer/Thomaz Bellucci in the third round.  I wouldn’t favor him in any of these matchups.

6. Thomaz Bellucci Will Get Back on Track

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    It has been a rough year for Bellucci. He started off the year with high hopes, but it hasn’t panned out.

    People are already starting to throw in the towel on Bellucci, and this tournament could make or break him.

    If Bellucci improves his backhand, which he hits late and leaning back, he can make a run.

    Bellucci will be tested early, playing Roger Federer in the second round. Stranger things have happened.

5. Mardy Fish Will Lose in the Third Round

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    You wouldn’t know it, but Fish is actually 29 years old.

    That’s old for a tennis player. Fish has played too much tennis this year leading up to the US Open.

    His return of serve is iffy, and he tends to miss volleys that are below his knees because his height impedes his bending down.

    Many people are giving Fish high odds to win the US Open. Grand slams, however, are grueling. Players have to win three sets, not two, and the number of matches players are required to play is high. It will be hard for Fish to play that much tennis and not tire, especially at his age.

    In the third round, Fish is slated to play Michael Llodra. Surprisingly, Fish only has a slight edge matchup wise against Llodra. He has won three times and lost twice. Llodra’s net game bothers Fish, making this a must-see match.

4. Nadal Will Get Injured

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    Every tournament it’s something new for Nadal. A hand, a foot, an ankle. There are too many limbs to keep track of.

    Nadal has had more wear and tear on his body than any human can handle. Injuries will get the best of Nadal and will shorten his career.

3. Alexandr Dolgopolov Will Beat Novak Djokovic in the Third Round

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    No way, right? Djokovic has been the most dominant player this year by far.

    All good things must come to an end, and this is a perfect opportunity for Dolgopolov.

    When Djokovic played Murray at Cincinnati, it came as a shock that the great one actually lost, but it shouldn’t have.

    Djokovic needs to improve his fitness if he wants to win the US Open. He was very fatigued when he played Murray and it will only be hotter in New York.

    Dolgopolov is just waiting to break out. He has all the tools to become an elite player and he honestly has nothing to lose when he plays Djokovic.

    Dolgopolov hits as hard as anybody and can surprise people with his quickness and power.

2. Gael Monfils Will Make the US Open Finals

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    What could have been the best non-grand slam match of the year was the Monfils vs. Djokovic match at Cincinnati.

    Monfils did something everyone had been telling him to do his entire career: He came to net.

    If Monfils can stick to his new strategy of coming to the net and ending points quickly, it shouldn’t come as a shock if he makes it to the finals.

    It is also an advantage that Monfils has a relatively easy draw this year. If he can get past Dimitrov in the first round, his next test will be against Berdych in the round of 16. This will be an interesting match to watch because they are two of the mentally weakest players on tour. If Monfils can get an early lead, he will coast to victory.

    If Djokovic manages to get past Dolgopolov in the third round, he will play Monfils in the quarterfinals. Monfils’ net game will be the key to victory. If he can win some easy points at the net, he will win.

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Monfils will duke it out in the semi-finals, but Monfils’ speed momentum will carry him through.

1. Andy Murray Will Win the US Open

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    Murray has a legitimate shot to win the US Open this year. The Wimbledon match against Nadal showed that Murray can compete with the best at grand slams, but closing out matches is a different story.

    Murray has a great return of serve, his backhand is one of the best in tennis, and he has an above average serve.

    Murray also got a major confidence boost when he beat Djokovic at Cincinnati this year.

    His first test will most likely be against Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. If Murray can just play his game of counterpunching , Del Potro will eventually make a mistake on his backhand side.

    Some say that Nadal is going to be Murray’s biggest test before the finals. That will not be the case because I don’t think Nadal will make it that far. Opponents are not afraid of Nadal any more, especially on hard courts. Injuries and poor play have got the best of him.

    If Murray does play Nadal, he will have the upper hand. With a better serve and faster groundstrokes, Murray is favored to win.

    Playing in a grand slam is nothing new to Murray. He will finally get past his fears of playing on the big stage and win a grand slam.