Sunday, August 24, 2008

US Open Preview- Men's Draw

Here are my thoughts on the likely winners for the US Open, in order of likelihood:

1. Novak Djokovic
2. Rafael Nadal

I've gone back and forth on these two, who I consider co-favorites. It's certainly been Nadal's year. There are a few reasons, however, I am leaning toward Djokovic:

a. I think Djokovic's track record is still better on hard court
b. They've played each other pretty closely. Djokovic is one of the few players to have convincing wins over Nadal this year. Djokovic is probably the only player on the tour who thinks he should beat Nadal, and I include Federer in that comment.
c. Health. I think Nadal's style makes him a bit of walking time bomb, and I could see him running himself down over the course of the hard court tournament
d. Crowd response. The US Open is my favorite live event in any sport, and the main reason is the crowds- it is the one tennis event where the crowds can really rally a player. Of the top players, Djokovic has the most engaging personality, which definitely benefited him last year.

I think these are all very real advantages for Djokovic. Maybe I am just trying to convince myself to go against the best player, who is clearly Nadal.

I would probably say 27% chance for Djokovic, 23% chance for Nadal, and 50% for the rest of the field.

3. Federer. Still great, even if his not playing at a "greatest of all time" level. I am one of those people who appreciates Federer more now that his is mortal.

4. James Blake. Inconsistent, but I think he's the American most likely to have the crowd rally behind him and carry him to victory.

5. Andy Murray. The most talented player outside of the Big 3.

6. Marat Safin. I was impressed by his Wimbledon run, and I think it would make an interesting story to add to my predicted winner for the women's draw.

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