Monday, August 25, 2014

ATP time! The official On the Rise (a tennis blog) US Open 2014 preview post!

Click here for the women's draw preview.

First, to get it out of the way, my prediction of how many matches US men will win this year: 13
(they won 11 last year).

Anyway, away we go:

John Isner (13)

Character: Foghorn Leghorn (tall, Southern, doesn't wear clothes)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 15
First-round opponent: Marcos Giron
Best result: Quarterfinal (2011)
My pick: 4th Round
Fun Fact: According to the New York Times Magazine, Isner is a "journeyman."  I'm sure that endeared the "even the liberal New York Times" to the world number 15.
Overview: Well it looks like it could be the third consecutive third-round match between John Isner and Philipp Kohlschreiber.  There's really no reason Isner can't win this, as he's 4-0 all-time vs. the German outside the US Open third round.  If he does win, next up is likely Djokovic.  I can't say that it would be a slam dunk for Novak, given the post-Wimbledon letdown he's had.  But he's still at least a 51% favorite.

Donald Young

Character: Nightwing (former Boy Wonder, now a man trying to craft a new identity)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 47
First-round opponent: Blaz Kavcic
Best result: 4th Round (2011)
My pick: 3rd Round
Fun Fact: This is Young's 10th consecutive US Open main draw.
Overview: Kavcic is a should-win, while Chardy in the 2nd Round is a could-win.  I actually think Donald's form is pretty solid right now and am going to pencil him into a match vs. Wawrinka in the 3rd Round.  Their two previous match, both in 2011, each went the distance, with Donald winning that five-set thriller at the Open.  Young is better now than he was then but so is Wawrinka.  I think it could again go five but I'm not confident in The Donald's ability to close the deal.

Steve Johnson

Character: Ironman (witty - nay, cheeky; powerful; tenacious)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 51
First-round opponent: Tatsuma Ito
Best result: 3rd Round (2012)
My pick: 4th Round
Fun Fact: Johnson has played 14 tiebreaks in his 12 career Grand Slam main draw matches.  He's 8-6 in those sets.
Overview: As long as he doesn't take Ito lightly, Johnson should be through that match in straight sets.  Next would be Feliciano Lopez, whom Johnson destroyed on hard courts earlier this year.  After that: Gulbis (a Johnson victim in Cincinnati) or Thiem, who seems to be slowing down after a great middle of the year.  There's nobody in the 4th Round who I think Steve can't beat - Berdych, Hewitt, Klizan, Giraldo et al. come with significant baggage - but I don't know if I can quite yet envision Steve Johnson as a US Open quarterfinalist.  I'm sure he *can* envision it, though, and that makes much more of a difference.

Jack Sock

Character: Bamm-Bamm (young, can whallop it)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 55
First-round opponent: Pablo Andujar
Best result: 3rd Round (2012, 2013)
My pick: 2nd Round
Fun Fact: Sock is #4 in the ATP in break points saved at 71%, just ahead of Federer and Raonic.
Overview: Andujar is 2-6 on the year on hard courts, so a healthy Sock had better win that one.  After that, though, is Nishikori.  I'm not convinced yet that Sock's confidence is quite there yet.  He's awful close.  But not ... just ... yet.

Sam Querrey

Character: Goofy
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 57
First-round opponent: Maximo Gonzalez
Best result: 4th Round (2008, 2010)
My pick: 3rd Round
Fun Fact: See: Marcos Giron
Overview: Unless his confidence is completely wrecked from that travesty against Janowicz in Winston-Salem, Querrey should reach the 3rd Round (although interestingly, Lu and Garcia-Lopez each had nice runs in W-S themselves.  Then would be Djokovic.  And that would be that.

Tim Smyczek

Character: Sonic the Hedgehog (small, fast, brave, bold)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 91
First-round opponent: Filip Krajinovic
Best result: 3rd Round (2013)
My pick: 2nd Round
Fun Fact: Smee's first main draw win at the Challenger level was in Yuba City in 2006 - he beat Rajeev Ram 6-7(4) 6-4 6-0.  He lost his next match to Phillip King (aka Vania's older brother).
Overview: I think Krajinovic will be an incredibly tough match but I'm hopeful that Smee's great memories from last year will come flooding back and he'll advance.  Next would be Roberto Bautista Agut, who ... well, who quite honestly has had a forgettable couple of tournaments on the North American hard courts.  And then would be Fognini/Golubev/Riba/Mannarino - not exactly a murderer's row on hard.  If he does capture lightning in a bottle, all I can say is that it couldn't happen to a nicer hedgehog.

Bradley Klahn

Character: (Independent, smart, self-effacing)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 117
First-round opponent: Andrey Kuznetsov
Best result: 2nd Round (2012, 2013)
My pick: 2nd Round
Fun Fact: Brad's mom Nancy played tennis at the University of Iowa.
Overview: Kuznetsov is another tricky 1st Round match, and Brad has had a rough year, but he has more NYC experience.  Next would be Verdasco or Rola.  I think both might be too tough for Brad today.  

Wayne Odesnik

Character: Boris Badenov (everybody's favorite villain)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 176
First-round opponent: Kei Nishikori
Best result: 2nd Round (2007, 2008)
My pick: 1st Round
Fun Fact: Odesnik is 7-2 in his career against players from Japan.
Overview: There's a chance that Nishikori isn't fully fit and if that's the case, Odesnik could absolutely win.  

Ryan Harrison

Character: Jekyl & Hyde (from mild mannered to super aggro remarkably quickly)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 184
First-round opponent: Grigor Dimitrov
Best result: 2nd Round (2010, 2012)
My pick: 1st Round
Fun Fact: Harrison's statistical bad luck got statistically even worse this tournament.
Overview: Ryan's bad luck in major draws has been well documented.  I think he will have a nice fall (yet again, if healthy) in challengers but right now he's having a rough go and Dimitrov isn't the guy he wants to face.  It's a rematch of the Wimbledon 1st Round, in which Ryan played Grigor tough but still fell in three sets.

Jared Donaldson

Character: Raphael (swashbuckling, aggressive, able to hurt you from both wings)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 303
First-round opponent: Gael Monfils
Best result: n/a
My pick: 1st Round
Fun Fact: Donaldson's match in Binghamton vs. Daniel Cox was the subject of a nice piece by Joey Hanf at Tennis Nerds.  You can watch the match here.
Overview: I think Jared will take the first set from Monfils, and that will be that.

Marcos Giron

Character: Ummm, Captain America as a bear? (well, he was a Bruin ... plus it's just toooooo cute not to use)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 419
First-round opponent: John Isner
Best result: n/a
My pick: 1st Round
Fun Fact: In 2011, Giron became the first player to win the Carson International Spring Championships and the Easter Bowl since Sam Querrey in 2005.  Both players are from Thousand Oaks, CA.
Overview: Another wildcard who got no luck.  I suppose with 32 seeds there are only so many "easy" spots in the draw for a wild card, but for one's second-ever main draw ATP match one really would at least like a chance to get into points.  Then again, one's body doesn't usually get too beat up playing Isner, even if it goes 4 sets, so there's that!

Noah Rubin

Character: Kid Flash (young, fast & brash)
Rank (as of 8/25/2014): 585
First-round opponent: Federico Delbonis
Best result: n/a
My pick: 1st Round
Fun Fact: Rubin has reached a tiebreak in each of his four main draw ATP matches (challenger and World Tour) but is 0-4 in those tiebreaks.
Overview: Rubin could scarcely have asked for a better draw than Sr. Of the Bonis. The Argentine's first and only tour-level hard court win of the year came last week against a struggling Martin Klizan.  I fully believe that Rubin can make a match of this and it could be a lot of fun to watch.  Winner gets Gilles Simon or Radu Albot.

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