Predicting the remaining men's pool at the 2019 US Open
When the great Bjorn Borg couldn’t win US open even once despite winning 11 Grand Slams, the purists were not surprised. USTA, New York, has a challenging surface which becomes an oven due to heat and humidity. This year the US open is at its worst. Every day the nightmare of seeded players being upset has become a norm and browed forehead for organizers and spectators.
Seeds falling like nine pins
First round saw the exit of Dominic Thiem (4), Stefanos Tsitsipas (8), Karen Khachanov (9), Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut(10), Fabio Fognini (11), Felix Auger(18), Dusan Lajovic (27), Taylor Fritz (26) and Kyle Edmund (30). So, as many as nine seeds fell on first round which included four of the top 10 players.
Second round saw the exit of Borna Coric(12), Lucas Pouille (25), Benoit Paire(29), Cristian Garin (31) and Fernando Verdasco (32). Third round was the exit stage for Kei Nishikori (7), Nikoloz Basilashvili (17), Nick Kyrgios (28), John Isner (14) and Matteo Berrettini (24).
It is a depleted field and the matches have become as unpredictable as the women’s draw, where any one can be beaten on the given day. Exceptions to the rule are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Alexander Zverev (6) can lose to anyone. Gael Monfils is too erratic and he has not delivered on the promise. Alex De Minaur shows brilliance but he loses his way. Diego Schwartzman is consistent but he is the shortest player to reach this level so he cannot win championships. So, it is going to be an open field for anyone to prevail till the last hurdle, where three musketeers will still prevail.
Quarter Final 1
Stan Wawrinka (23) vs Daniil Medvedev (5)
Medvedev is in form of his life. He won the Cincinnati masters. Him overcoming Feliciano Lopez was an extraordinary display of power tennis. So, he should prevail in straight sets against Koepfer in the prequarters.
Medvedev has developed an accurate fast service, his percentage of winners at net is around 75%. Djokovic lost to Medvedev in Cincinati and during the press conference he said that Medvedev is playing the best Tennis at present.
I expect Medvedev to control the rallies but counter punching by Wawrinka will enable him to win. I am worried about Wawrinka’s stamina. Crowd is against Medvedev and he is getting affected by the same, so I expect Wawrinka to win in a marathon battle.
This will be most absorbing quarter finals spectators will be treated to four to five sets of quality tennis.
Quarter Final 2
Roger Federer (3) vs Grigor Dimitrov
Roger was not in his prime at the start of tournament and he lost as set to Sumit Nagal of India. In the second round too, he lost a set to Damir Dzumhur. His easy win over David Goffin, however, has shown that he is in the rhythm of things.
Dimitrov was called junior Federer as he has all the strokes. He is, however, inconsistent and loses to any one on his bad day. In the hot environment of New York, he will bow down to Fedex in four sets.
Semi Final 1
Federer vs Wawrinka
Both quarter finals will be long and tiresome. Djokovic should not have won against Federer in Wimbledon Final. This displays that Federer is losing his grit. In every match he is losing a set.
Federer will use angles to blunt the power shots of Wawrinka to win in four sets. It is this capacity of Federer which neutralizes the power hitting of Wawrinka , so Federer leads their overall record, 23-3.
Federer’s last loss to his compatriot came in 2015 and his recent win was at the French open. It will be a grueling battle, which may take its toll on the player who reaches the finals.
Quarter Final 3
Andrey Rublev vs Gael Monfils (13)
ARublev is at the peak of his form, he has scalped two seeds and he will outpace Berrettini in three-four sets to reach quarterfinals for the first time. His serve and counter punching saw him tame Kyrgios in straight sets.
Monfils, a resurgent player, suddenly he has started winning again. He had the game but he used to lose focus midway. Against Shapovalov he won as the Canadian tried to hit impossible angles at crucial points. Monfils, however, is serving well and that is why he will win against Andujar, who has consistent game but no winners to upset Monfils.
This quarter final between Rublev and Monfils will be a four-hour marathon and it will be characterized by long rallies. I expect Rublev to win as I feel Monfils will not remain 100% fit. So, he will try to hit early winners and gifting points to Rublev.
Quarter Final 4
Alexander Zverev (6) vs Rafael Nadal (2)
aNadal has not been tested and he has been winning too comfortably. In pre-quarter final he will face Ciliic, an ex-champion who is coming out of his injury. Cilic has already played two tough matches and Nadal will grind him to win in three-four sets
On the other hand, Zverev will face Schwartzman, a player who has explosive ground strokes. An upset may take place. Schwartzman hits low ground strokes. Zverv hits very good winners on high balls but on low balls he does too many errors. The German’s power serves will ensure his win in four or five sets. The match rallies will be power based but lack artistry.
Nadal will sail through Zverev in the quarter final. Extra spin of Nadal will induce errors on Zverev’s backhand and ultimately Nadal will win in straight sets. I hope Zverev proves me wrong by displaying the game he is capable of.
Semi Final 2
Rublev vs Nadal (2)
One unseeded player in semifinal, a dream come true tournament for Rublev. The last time Rublev played against Nadal in US open quarter final, Nadal drubbed him 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
I expect a little better score line, however match quality will be good and Nadal fans will enjoy his patented lasso shots in display.
Federer (3) vs Nadal (2)
Again, a dream final between two greats of Tennis. Federer is 38 and has won 20 Grand Slams. Nadal is 33 and has won 18 grand slams.
Nadal is chasing to eclipse those. So this rivalry where Nadal leads 24-16 in career wins is a must watch. Federer has the worst record against Nadal in comparison to any other player. As the overspin of Nadal forces Federer to back and he is not able to use angles. Without angles Federer is decent player but not great. Still, Federer beat Nadal in semi final of Wimbledon so anything is possible.
Long rallies and three to four hours of quality tennis is awaiting us. My heart goes for Federer but I do not see the power exuded by his forehand. I see Nadal as fluent as he could be in his earlier outings. So the balance goes in favor of Nadal as he will cruise to finals. Whereas Wawrinka will sap the energy out of Federer.
Hoping to see the single hand backhand of Federer cornering Nadal. Down the line winner of Nadal and lasso shots to get slow returns from Federer to kill. Tennis will be a winner on 8th September.
Cover image credits: Forbes