2011 US Open: One Bold Prediction for Each of the Top 10 Seeds

Rohan SubraSenior Analyst IAugust 20, 2011

2011 US Open: One Bold Prediction for Each of the Top 10 Seeds

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    With the US Open starting next Sunday, everyone is preparing in different ways, with the same objective in mind: to capture the crown of the year's final grand slam.

    Playing tournaments, working hours on the training courts, or even resting can help players gear up for Flushing Meadows.

    Going in to the Open, the top ten seeds are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Mardy Fish, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Nicolas Almagro.

    All of these players have extremely high expectations, and will all be looking to win the whole thing.

    For each of these players, is one bold prediction.

    Enjoy!

    NOTE:Β Robin Soderling is likely to pull out, therefore I am not including him.

10. Nicolas Almagro

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    Age: 25

    Nationality: Spanish

    Bold Prediction: Nicolas Almagro will do well, making the quarterfinals.

    Almagro was ranked in the teens throughout most of 2010, but the Spaniard finally broke into the top 10 in April of this year. He also achieved a single-digit ranking in May. Since then, however, he has dropped two spots to the eleventh seed. (Since Soderling pulled out, he is number 10.)

    Though Almagro's quintessentially Spanish game is best suited for clay courts, his success on hard cannot be ruled out. His immense topspin, great footwork, robot-like consistency and mental toughness are qualities that can be effective on any surface.

    He has had a good 2011, as he won three tournaments -- Nice, Buenos Aires, and Costa do Sauipe -- and reached the finals of Hamburg and Acapulco. Though it's true that Almagro hasn't won or gotten to the finals of a tournament that wasn't on clay, he can't be ruled out for a good run in any tournament.

    Watch out for Almagro at Flushing Meadows!

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    Age: 26

    Nationality: French

    Bold Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will reach the semifinals.

    Following a surprise run at Wimbledon, where he toppled Fernando Gonzalez, David Ferrer, and Roger Federer, Tsonga will be looking to get at least to the semifinals. Though he did lose early in the Western and Southern Financial Open, it isn't too relevant, as the Frenchman always does well in slams.

    With his power-based game, Tsonga will most likely cruise through the early rounds, but will have to work much harder when he faces top 20 players. The fact that he is capable of being consistent really helps him beat better players, because he is often too much to handle for them.

    Before Wimbledon, Tsonga's year hadn't been great -- by his standards -- since he only reached the round of 32 at the Australian Open and of the French Open. Though he did get to the finals of Queen's and Rotterdam, this hasn't been his best year.

    Tsonga will be looking to keep up his excellent form for Flushing Meadows.

8. Tomas Berdych

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    Age: 25

    Nationality: Czech

    Bold Prediction: Tomas Berdych will lose early.

    Berdych's breakout year was in 2010, when he reached the Wimbledon finals, after beating Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic. Despite the fact that he lost to Rafael Nadal, that run showed us a flash of what the Czech could potentially be.

    At 6'5", Berdych's serve is huge, as are his groundstrokes. The stereotype of tall tennis players is that they have mediocre movement, but Berdych is living proof that that is false; with quickness, speeds, and what commentators call "tree trunk legs."

    Though he did reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Berdych lost in the first roundΒ at Roland Garros to Frenchman Stephane Robert. He lost in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, at hasn't appeared in any finals over the course of 2011.

    Though he has talent, I don't think the US Open will be his tournament.Β 

7. Gael Monfils

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    Age: 24

    Nationality: French

    Bold Prediction: Gael Monfils will be upset in an early round.

    Gael Monfils' ranking has always been hovering between ten and twenty, but in the past few weeks, he has been higher than ever; at number seven and eight. In 2004, when "Lamonf" finished as the number one junior in the world, expectations were high for the Frenchman. And he did pretty darn well...

    Monfils is widely considered as the most entertaining player to watch, partly because almost all of the points he plays are long rallies. He is a fan favorite, since he always gives 100% on the court; diving, jumping, and pumping up the crowd, even in the middle of a tough, exhausting five-setter.

    Monfils' best recent result was in the 2011 Legg Mason, where he reached the final, only to lose to Radek Stepanek. He has yet to win a title this year, and his best result in a major was in the 2008 French Open, where he reached the semifinals.

    I don't think this will be a good tournament for Monfils, given his recent form, and he won't improve on his career-best US Open result of making the quarters.

6. Mardy Fish

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    Age: 29

    Nationality: American

    Bold Prediction: Mardy Fish will not drop a set until the quarterfinals, and make the semis.

    Mardy Fish, previously thought of as a mediocre player, crashed into the top ten in early June; his first appearance ever in that set of rankings.

    However, this year, the American's groundstrokes are much improved, especially his backhand. It is a major weapon for him, and he can really hurt players off of it. His net game has also gotten dramatically better, and his ability to finish off points is better.

    Mardy's best result ever in a grand slam is the quarterfinals, which he has achieved in the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, not to mention a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. Fish also won a title in Atlanta this year.

    One of the biggest breakout players of the year, Mardy Fish can get very far in New York.

5. David Ferrer

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    Age: 29

    Nationality: Spanish

    Bold Prediction: David Ferrer will perform unusually badly, and lose in the round of 16.

    After Ferrer had dropped from being in the top five in 2007/2008,Β his ranking was standing still in the late teens and early twenties. However, he broke through last year in to the top ten after the clay court season, where he was outstanding.

    Like Almagro, David Ferrer's game is that of a typical Spaniard, and it works best on clay. Besides Nadal, this man could be the most consistent player on tour, keeping the ball in with his topspin. He also has great footwork.

    This year has held two titles for the Spaniard: Acapulco and Auckland. For Ferrer, it is a good sign that he won a hard court tournament, because it shows signs of him branching out to more surfaces. He did once get to the semifinals of the US Open in 2007 and of the Australian Open, which is his best major result.

    Though he is a fantastic player, I don't think Ferrer has it in him to make a deep US Open run.

4. Andy Murray

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    Age: 24

    Nationality: British

    Bold Prediction: Andy Murray will drop no sets until the quarterfinals, but will be upset.

    Andy Murray's breakthrough came in 2008, where he broke into the top ten, and weeks later, became number four in the world. Between then and now, he more or less stayed at that ranking, and currently is completely in the shadow of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

    Because of those three, he gets less attention than he probably would normally, because he really is a great player. Murray has great groundstrokes (especially his backhand), a very big serve, is a great mover, and is one of the mentally toughest players right now.

    Murray did end up getting to the Australian Open final, after beating Jurgen Melzer, Alexandr Dolgopolov, and David Ferrer. However, he lost in the final in straight sets to red-hot Novak Djokovic. He also won at the Queen's Club before Wimbledon. His best result at Flushing Meadows was the final of 2008.

    He will be a menace before the semis, but I predict that he will be upset.

3. Roger Federer

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    Age: 30

    Nationality: Swiss

    Bold Prediction: Roger Federer will advance to the finals.

    Federer has been in the top three for the past several years, as he has won sixteen grand slams, and therefore got a ton of points. He was number one for a long time; then number two; and now he is number three behind Nadal and Djokovic.

    For a long time, it was virtually impossible to stop the Swiss Maestro, because he barely had any weaknesses (this was before Nadal completely exposed his flaws). He had a huge forehand, a nice backhand, a great serve, an amazing net game, and he danced around the court. Now, age has taken its toll, and some of those qualities are lost for Roger.

    Federer has only won one tournament this whole year, a shockingly bad statistic by his standards. Besides that, he got to the final of the French Open and Dubai. He also has won the US Open five times in his career.

    Federer's form hasn't been so great, but I think he can get to the final this year.


2. Rafael Nadal

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    Age: 25

    Nationality: Spanish

    Bold Prediction: Rafael Nadal will pull out early with an injury.

    Rafael Nadal made his name big when he won the French Open, defeating Roger Federer in the semifinals. From then on, Nadal's ranking skyrocketed and it has been in the top three for the past few years.

    Rafa's game is similar to those of Almagro and Ferrer; he just executes it a lot better than them. His game is unique in the sense that no one can even come close to putting the amount of topspin that he does on his shots. (His average forehand rotates 3,200 times a minute!) The Spaniard is also one of the fastest players in the world, and it is almost impossible to hit a winner on him.

    Nadal only has three titles this year, which isn't a lot for him. Yes, he did win the French Open, but he would have been looking to capture the Australian Open and Wimbledon for the second and third times, respectively. He will look to defend his US Open title, though.

    Rafa is so injury-prone, that I think the end of the year will cause fitness issues for him.

1. Novak Djokovic

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    Age: 24

    Nationality: Serbian

    Bold Prediction: Novak Djokovic will win the whole thing, dropping only one set.

    Novak Djokovic was considered a second-rate player, behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. He held a rank between three and four for many years, as he was a consistent semifinalist in slams. This year, however, things have changed for Novak, as he is number one, and even if he loses every single match the rest of the year, he will still have that top spot.

    The Serb has come out guns-a-blazing in 2011, as every single aspect of his game is hugely improved. His groundstrokes are much bigger, and his net game has more finesse, while his movement is much better, too. However, the most important part of his game is the serve, which was last year a liability for Novak, but now he has made it a huge weapon.

    This year, Novak has nine titles to his name, notably the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He has only one loss the whole year, and will look to improve his best result at Flushing Meadows, which is reaching the final.

    Novak definitely has it in him to win it all, only losing one set.

Predictions

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    I think the four semifinalists will be Djokovic, Federer, Fish, and Tsonga.

    Djokovic will beat Fish, and Federer will beat Tsonga.

    Then Roger will lose to a red-hot Djoker in the final.

    What do you think?

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