2010 US Open Midpoint Notes

13:27 Mon 06 Sep 2010
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The biggest upset on the men’s side has been Wawrinka taking out Murray in four sets—making Nadal’s route to the final easier, as Nadal has had significant trouble against Murray on hard courts. Wawrinka’s no slouch, but I can’t see him beating Nadal, if he makes it that far. Another unexpected result was Llodra beating Berdych in the first round, also helping Nadal. As for the women, Cibulkova over Kuznetsova and Kanepi over Jankovic are probably the surprises, along with dark horse pick Azarenka retiring against Dulko.

On the men’s side, the remaining top ten seeds are:

  • 1. Rafael Nadal. Nadal has looked completely untroubled in his matches. With Berdych and Murray both gone, Nadal’s remaining opponents before the final look to be Lopez, Verdasco, and then Wawrinka or Querrey or Youzhny—none of whom would have good odds of beating Nadal. Verdasco, if he beats Ferrer, is probably Nadal’s toughest test, but while that could be close, Nadal’s mental toughness should bring him through.
  • 2. Roger Federer. Federer’s cruised so far as well. He faces Melzer tonight, and I think will make short work of him, but his next likely opponent is Söderling, and that will be a significant test given the French Open result. I would still bet on Federer, but it wouldn’t be as shocking an upset as in the past. If he gets past Söderling, Federer will probably face Djokovic. At this point I think Djokovic isn’t as stern a test for him as Söderling.
  • 3. Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has looked solid after so nearly going out to Troicki in the first round. Beyond that his opponents don’t seem to have played particularly well, and I think that Monfils—assuming he’s uninjured—will be quite tough. I don’t see Djokovic beating Federer if both make it to the semifinals.
  • 5. Robin Söderling also came close to elimination in the first round but has looked dominant since. I expect him to easily beat Montanes, and then give Federer a hard time.
  • 8. Fernando Verdasco had a tough five-setter in the first round too, but I think he’ll get past Ferrer, only to fall to Nadal.
  • 10. David Ferrer hasn’t dropped a set yet, but doesn’t have the firepower to get past Verdasco or Nadal.

Murray was a trendy pick to win it this year, and going out to Wawrinka is a disappointment for him. Berdych was another player many picked for a breakthrough here. Davydenko didn’t seem to be on form and ran into a streaking Gasquet in the second round. Roddick’s loss to Tipsarevic was a surprise but not a shocker, as Roddick’s been playing poorly recently.

The women:

  • 1. Caroline Wozniacki. She’s just gone on court against Sharapova, in what should be a great match. The smart money seems to be on Sharapova, but Wozniacki, regarded by many as “undeserving” of the number one seed, has only dropped three games in her first three matches. This might well be a breakout tournament for her. If she can get by Sharapova, her likely opponents are Cibulkova and Zvonareva, who I think she can beat.
  • 2. Kim Clijsters. Demolished Ivanovic in round 3, and didn’t have much trouble in her earlier matches either. I think she’ll get by Stosur, and then have a tough match against either Venus Williams or Schiavone. She’s probably the favorite for the title.
  • 3. Venus Williams. Her match against Schiavone will probably be quite hard, and I think she’d lose to Clijsters, but you always get the feeling from Venus that she might suddenly string together Slam-winning form.
  • 5. Samantha Stosur. She’s justified her seeding, but will likely lose to Clijsters.
  • 6. Francesca Schiavone. The French Open champion has looked fantastic so far despite a poor record since the French. Her match against Venus Williams should be excellent, but I don’t think she can beat Williams and Clijsters in succession.
  • 7. Vera Zvonareva. I haven’t seen her play, but suspect she’ll win her next two and then fall to either Wozniacki or Sharapova.

Gone are Jankovic, Li Na (retired against Kateryna Bondarenko), Azarenka (retired against Dulko after getting mildly concussed in practice), and Radwanska, who lost to Peng in round two.

Nadal’s path to the final might be his easiest ever. Federer has a tougher road but I’d still favor him to get there. That would provide a first-ever final between the two in New York, with all the makings of a classic. If Federer doesn’t make it, I have a hard time seeing anyone stop Nadal unless Söderling were to find his best form at the right time.

I think the winner of the Wozniacki–Sharapova match, and Clijsters, are the favorites on the women’s side. If I had to pick a dark horse, it would be Schiavone.

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