Usually the draw for the men for Grand Slams is a little dull as it is almost always the top players who make it to the second week. We seldom get an outsider in the final never mind as champion.
As we get ready for the last Slam of the season it all feels a lot less certain as to who will be fighting for honours in the latter stages.
Nadal is out. Djokovic is far from his best as is Andy Murray. Federer will go into the tournament as many people’s favourite as he has been producing some decent tennis.
Which of the second tier players will be able to take advantage of a more open Open?
As always the draw is split into 4 sections. I will give my predictions for the quarter finalists from each section and also look at who may spoil the party.
Section 1: Predicted quarter final – Djokovic v Tsonga
Despite his poor recent form we have to expect that he will get it together for this tournament. His opening rounds aren’t too challenging and he isn’t likely to come under pressure until the 4th round when it is likely to be Kohlschreiber that he meets. On top form that match up wouldn’t worry Djokovic but if he is struggling then Kohlschreiber could be a stiff test.
Tsonga has a decent draw and probably won’t have too many problems in the early rounds. Again, the 4th round is where things get serious and Murray has a good chance to be there. Murray always does well at this time of year and obviously the US Open was the first Slam he won but I feel he has too much work to do before he is in a position to challenge at the top level again and he is unlikely to be ready by next week. His second and third round matches could be a little uncomfortable with Stepanek and Verdasco being his likely adversaries.
Section 2: Predicted quarter final – Wawrinka v Raonic
This section has the potential to throw up a few surprises. Wawrinka has firmly established himself as one of the game’s top players. He will need to raise his game if he is to be competitive in the second week. He should be ok until the 4th round where he will probably meet the winner between Robredo and Kyrgios who has struggled to live up to hype and will be out played by the hugely experienced Spaniard.
Raonic’s half of this section has Nishikori and Rosol. If Rosol has enough energy left after his final in Winston Salem he is likely to meet Raonic in the third round. Nishikori has a tricky second round with Jack Sock which he should come through if he is injury free.
I have Nishikori and Raonic meeting in round 4 and the Japanese player’s body will be creaking by that stage especially if he has played a couple of 4 or 5 set matches.
Section 3: Predicted quarter final – Berdych v Cilic
This is the most open section. Apart from Berdych and Cilic, a quarter final place could easily go to Dodig (outsider!), Gulbis, Anderson or Ferrer. Gilles Simon is another outside chance but I don’t see him getting past Ferrer in the third round. I have listed Dodig as he may be able to take advantage of poor match from Berdych in the 4th round.
Ferrer’s form hasn’t been as good as last season and he has a tough draw with Tomic and Simon in the early rounds. I would back Cilic to take out Ferrer in the 4th round assuming Kevin Anderson won’t be as consistent as Cilic in round 3.
Section 4: Predicted quarter final – Dimitrov v Federer
There is scope for some surprises in the early rounds but I feel all they will change are the 4th round opponents for Dimitrov and Federer.
In Dimitrov’s half I have Monfils and Gasquet meeting in the third round. Judgement of Gasquet’s form has to be speculative. He has had some decent performances but also some mediocre ones. Monfils will always have injury doubts but has played well this season. He is quite capable of beating Gasquet and giving Dimitrov a stern test.
Federer has to face a couple of big servers in Groth and Karlovic but will be too consistent over 5 sets. If Fognini can keep his mind on his tennis he has an excellent chance of being Federer’s opponent in the 4th round.
Outright winner: It is hard to imagine Federer not reaching the final but his potential opponent is not as predictable. Dimitrov won’t be able to handle the occasion when he plays Federer in the quarters. Berdych has the experience to trouble Federer but his recent form makes it look unlikely.
Wawrinka will have to raise his game if he is to beat Djokovic or Tsonga to reach the final. He is capable of doing so but I just don’t see it happening. Djokovic is an obvious candidate to reach the final but unless everything falls into place for him as far as his own game is concerned, even if he does reach the quarter finals I can see Tsonga beating him.
Of all the quarter finalists only Djokovic has the experience to beat Federer in a Slam final so we will have to see if he can get himself there.
The women’s Slams are more likely to give an unexpected final. For this tournament, more than any other I can remember, it is almost impossible to predict.
Leave your final predictions in the comments below and we can check them after the tournament.
Not one of the players who would figure amongst people’s picks as contenders has not suffered from a lack of form and/or injury in recent months.
Serena had her illness issues at Wimbledon and has had several surprising losses this season. Sharapova can’t string 2 serves together some days. Radwanska has been better lately but has also had some uncharacteristic losses and poor performances. Halep hasn’t been free from injury. Bouchard is looking to continue her success in Slams but has a thigh injury and lacks confidence since her Wimbledon final. Her draw is quite favourable though.
I will do the women’s draw a little differently. Once I have listed my quarter final predictions I will look at individual’s chances of causing upset.
Quarter final predictions:
Section 1: S Williams v Ivanovic
Section 2: Kvitova v Bouchard
Section 3: Kerber v Safarova
Section 4: Sharapova v Halep
Outsiders with a chance?
Ivanovic has had a good season but I have doubts about whether she can maintain the required level for enough matches.
Wozniacki has also been putting in some excellent performances in the last few months. if the likes of Serena are below par she is one player who can put the wins together and will be mentally able to handle the situation despite never having won a Slam.
Kvitova has the game to go all the way as she proved at Wimbledon but she will run out of energy after 2 or 3 rounds as she has in the last two US Opens after reaching the final in New Haven.
Stosur showed a few years ago that she can win this event but even though she seems to be playing well her issues are in her head. I also think her backhand isn’t at the level it would need to be to win this title again.
Kerber and Jankovic can both make it to the second week and I predict they will meet in the 4th round.
Safarova is another player with the potential to do well and I think she could push Radwanska very close should they meet in the 4th round. I have actually gone for her to reach the quarter finals but I think her head will explode if she manages it.
Stephens will think she has a chance to win the title. Unfortunately for the wannabe superstar she meets Jankovic again in the third round.
Svitolina could have a very good tournament and has a fair to middling chance of reaching the second week. Makarova could end that dream in the second round but she has lost her focus recently. The winner of that one could meet Cibulkova in the third round and whilst Cibs has a better hard court pedigree her confidence is at rock bottom.
Obviously if Serena is on top form she will be hard to beat but I just have a feeling she will not make week 2.
If she goes out early, take your pick. Sharapova and Halep are strong contenders but it all depends on who can stay healthy for long enough.
One thing is certain. It’s going to be a great tournament!