I love the US Open for a plethora of reasons, ranging from all the exciting tennis action to the Heineken Red Star Cafe. However, what I love most is that despite a few big tournaments in the fall, this really feels like the Grand Finale of the tennis year. There are lots of loose ends out there, and lots of players will be looking to tie them up during the two weeks in New York City. Let’s discuss a few here:
Can Andy Murray build on his Olympic Gold & finally win a Grand Slam? Short answer = yes. Long answer = it really depends on his draw. If he can make it through to the semifinals with some relative ease, I think he would have a chance of beating both Djokovic & Federer in back to back matches (the most likely scenario for anyone not named Novak or Roger). Murray proved at the Olympics that he can win on ALMOST the biggest stage, but not quite the biggest. Yet.
Is Roger Federer going to relapse a bit after recapturing the Wimbledon title & #1 ranking? I know it sounds like a bit of an odd question, but he is 31, has cemented himself (in many circles, anyway) as the greatest player ever, and between winning Wimbledon and Olympic silver, has had a pretty grueling summer. Basically, he has now proven EVERYTHING he needed to prove. Would it surprise anyone if he took a step back?
Are any of the younger top ranked females (Azarenka, Radwanska, Kvitova, etc) ready to take over Women’s tennis? Or is Serena Williams still too dominant? I guess I should probably throw Maria Sharapova in with Serena, but the top ranked American is on another planet right now. This question will be answered by one person only, and that is Ms. Williams. The bottom line is it really seems like none of the other women are good enough yet (and lots of it seems to be mental) to beat Serena IF she decides she wants to win. While that has been a question at times over the past few years, it hasn’t been one lately.
What does Nadal’s absence mean for the tournament? We won’t know until the draw comes out who it will affect more, but either Federer or Djokovic will end up extremely happy. One of them will have Murray in his half, and the other one will have the player I’ve named ‘Someone that is not Rafael Nadal.’
Is Del Potro ready to compete for a Grand Slam again? Yes. Oh, you want me to elaborate some? Ok…once he came back from injury it’s always looked like he had the physical skills to compete with the top men, but mentally he seemed a bit defeated. I sincerely believe the Bronze medal finish at the Olympics will give him the confidence he needs going forward.
Will Caroline Wozniacki FINALLY win a slam? Will she ever? I’m almost 100% certain she will not win the 2012 US Open. As for ‘ever,’ that answer is a little different. I know she is struggling, I know the history of former #1′s falling off the map recently to varying degrees, (Ivanovic, Safina, Jankovic), and I know her confidence is somewhat shot. But I also know that no one else in the top 10 seems to have staying power anyway, and ‘Caro’ is young enough at 22 where she still has time to climb her way back into the thick of things.
Finally, we know he is still one of the best players in the world, but what’s up with Novak? Personally, I think he is struggling mentally with the fact that he hasn’t been able to duplicate his 2011. I think it eats away at him at he is second fiddle to Federer, and to a certain extent even Murray. I think he needs something to get his mojo back…something like an epic night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium…with the slightly raucous NYC crowd cheering him on…