Sunday, September 4, 2011

US Open Week 1 Review

I’m mostly taking Labor Day weekend off, but I figured a short post would be easy enough to do. However, the post I’ve decided to do is a mid-tournament assessment of my tournament preview. I was looking forward to doing this a couple of days ago, but after playing some of my worst tennis of the summer (and that’s saying something) and watching about 10 hours of tennis over the last two days I’m less than enthusiastic about this endeavor. But I will soldier on because this new commitment to writing more often is something I’m enthusiastic about.

Let’s start with the men. I’m going to start myself off with an A at the top because all four men I picked for the final four are still in the tournament and playing very well. I wouldn’t change my picks regardless because I already picked them in writing but I think even looking at the draw the way it is now I’m still comfortable.

The camera loves to see Nadal shirtless
If I had to choose one player that I think is vulnerable it would be David Ferrer. He’s playing very well so he still has a great chance, but I expected his section of the draw to soften up a little more than it has. He has two very tough matches to play to get to the semifinals.

In the 6-10 section of the draw, I have to give myself a solid B. I did expect Gael Monfils or Tomas Berdych to get to the quarterfinals and they are both gone. But I also correctly predicted (maybe just wished for) the early exits of Nicolas Almagro and Robin Soderling.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 
Here I also have to give myself a big fat F because in talking about Mardy Fish I noted that he had to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (11TH seed) to get a chance to play Federer, but I also said Tsonga wasn’t in Federer’s quarter. That’s just sloppy and careless.

In the 12-16 portion, I’m going to take an A-. I wrongly insinuated that Gilles Simon would be gone by now (instead he scored a big win over Juan Martin Del Potro), but was spot on in knowing Richard Gasquet, Stan Wawrinka, Viktor Troicki and Mikhail Youzhny would impress no one.

Donald Young had the
best week of his career
In the also-ran department, I’m taking a B-. Del Potro is gone and Roddick is not, both of which are a bit surprising to me. But I totally called Alexandr Dolgopolov and John Isner getting to the fourth round, so yay me!

One other thing. My men’s preview was filled with pics of potential rising stars and while it wasn’t only the guys I highlighted, the big story of the first week was how well many of the younger players (especiallyAmericans) played and handled the moment.

Azarenka lost but
showed guts
Now for the women. My grades here might not even be good enough to get me in to some community colleges. I’m starting off with a C- for the top five seeds. I was a bit non-committal about Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, but I was talking about at least the quarterfinals for Maria Sharapova and a potential final for Petra Kvitova, both of whom are gone because they played some of the worst tennis of the week. I correctly called Serena over Vika Azarenka in the third round. I would like to say that I had pretty much lost all respect for Azarenka over the last 18 months because I thought she had no heart, but I have to think about changing that opinion after her inspired play trying to come back against Serena after getting crushed in the first set.

I have no idea who Angelique Kerber is
but she's in the quarterfinals
I think I deserve a solid B for the 6-10 section. I will admit to thinking Sam Stosur would be done by now, but I foresaw (past tense of foresee, just like forgoo is the past tense of forgo) the early and well-deserved demises of Na Li (Li Na) and Marion Bartoli and the success of Andrea Petkovic.

Flavia Pennetta is another
surprise quarterfinalist
Can you get an F-? If so, than that’s my grade for 11-16. The only two of the players from this section that I thought would lose before the fourth round – Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic – are the only two that made it that far.

It’s pretty much the same story for the also-rans (which aren’t really also-rans because Serena Williams is in this section). I picked Serena to win and that’s looking more likely every day, but none of the other players I featured in this section played even one shot better than anyone would have expected. Of course, no one could really have predicted Venus Williams’ illness. She’s one of my all-time favorite players so I really hope she is able to manage this and get back on the court.

Even with the crappy grades, three of the four women I picked to get to the semifinals are still in there with a shot at it. I still feel very confident about the three of them.

Ana Ianovic is trying to make it back to the top

John Isner is one of four Americans in the round of 16

Nadal is still in it, but not playing great yet

Jack Sock lost to Andy Roddick in the 2nd round

Juan  Carlos Ferrero 

All pictures are from this year’s US Open.

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