The last Grand Slam of the 2014 Tennis season, the US Open, gets underway at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Queens beginning Monday, Aug. 25 and finishes on Monday, Sept. 8.
The draws have been announced, so let’s take a look at three of the favorites, a dark horse and a long shot on each side of the draw.
Let’s begin with the ladies.
Serena Williams: Williams is the number 1 seed at the Open for the third time in her career. The last two times she won the tournament (2002, 2013) and as the two-time defending champion she’s expected to win this year as well. Williams has been on a roll after her unfortunate incident at Wimbledon winning two of the three hard-court tournaments she entered. (Cincinnati, Stanford).
Williams will have an interesting first round match-up with fellow American Taylor Townsend and a possible quarterfinal matchup with Ana Ivanovic and a possible semifinal with either Eugenie Bouchard, Victoria Azarenka or Petra Kvitova but outside of that Williams has the tournament in her own hands.
Simona Halep: Hale is the number 2 seed at the Open and has had a very successful season thus far. The French Open finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist has won two tournaments but has only entered one hard-court tournament prior to the Open where she lost in the quarters to her nemesis Maria Sharapova in three hard-fought sets.
Halep is extremely aggressive from the baseline and relies on a high first serve percentage where she has won 66.5 percent of her points. She has a possible third round opponent in Venus Williams and if she can survive that has a possible quarterfinal opponent in Sharapova where she’ll most likely end her tournament.
Maria Sharapova: Sharapova finds herself the Open’s fifth seed and is always a dangerous opponent. Health has always been her biggest issue but she seems to be healthy and has had a very good season overall highlighted by her French Open victory this past May.
Her summer season has been average by her standards and her 17-7 hardcourt record for 2014 is a little shaky but if this young lady hits that big serve of hers well and finishes with her monster forehand she could have a good run this season. She has a difficult first round match-up with countrywoman Maria Kirilenko and as mentioned before a possible quarterfinal with Halep.
Sharapova’s possible semifinal match against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska could also be exciting must see TV.
Dark Horse: Eugenia Bouchard is my dark horse for the 2014 Open. She’s had a tremendous season going 36-16 while winning her first WTA tour event at Nurnberg. She’s also had a very good Grand Slam season reaching the semis at both the Australian and French and the Finals at Wimbledon losing to Petra Kvitova.
Bouchard has become somewhat of a fan favorite and with her aggressive game and dependable first serve she has a shot at winning her first Major title at Flushing Meadows
Long Shot: Caroline Wozniacki is my long shot to win the 2014 Open. Her ex boyfriend Rory McElroy has been on fire since the breakup and now its her turn to show him she can also win the big ones.
She is 33-13 this season including her only tournament victory of the season at Istanbul (hardcourt) and if she can somehow push past possible third round opponent Sharapova she might just pull off the impossible.
Prediction: Serena Williams will be holding up the trophy and once again silence her many doubter and critics.
The Men’s side of things might get interesting now that Rafael Nadal has pulled out due to injury. Let’s take a look at three of the favorites, a dark horse and a long shot for the Men’s portion of US Open.
Novak Djokovic: The “Joker” has had a heck of a season winning 4 titles including a dramatic five set win at The All England Club over Roger Federer. Since then he hasn’t played that well losing in the round of 16 at Toronto and again in the round of 16 in Cincinnati.
Those losses don’t mean all that much when a defending champion and World Number 1 takes the court at a Slam. His draw is ugly though as he’s possibly facing American John Isner in the fourth round and a possible Andy Murray or red-hot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga confrontation in the quarters. If he can somehow survive that mess he’s probably facing Canada’s Milos Raonic or Stan Wawrinka in the semis.
This is one ugly draw folks but if anyone can get through all these stumbling blocks it’s the never say die Djokovic.
Roger Federer: 17 Grand Slam Titles. The greatest men’s tennis player of all-time. Not much else needs to be said about the number 2 seed and five time US Open champion. The guy has done it all and someone who should never be taken lightly or counted out.
Hiring Stefan Edberg as his coach was pure genius and we’ve seen a much more aggressive charging Federer than in the past. Federer has been hot this summer reaching the Final in Toronto and winning Cincinnati so the guy is ready…..but is he able?
Federer has a pretty straight shot to the quarters and will most likely face either Gael Monfils or Richard Gasquet if he indeed does pass through and then it gets dicey where he could possibly see Spaniard David Ferrer or the Czech Tomas Berdych in the semis.
Andy Murray: Murray won this thing in 2012 but injuries along with some perplexing coaching decisions make me wonder about this man but still he’s a defending champion with great potential to do so again in 2014. His summer has been anything but spectatcular going only as far as the round of 16 in Toronto and Cincinnati. He’ll have his work cut out at the Open and he’ll need those big groundstrokes and improving serve if he is to become a two-time US Open Champion.
Murray has a dangerous first round opponent in Robin Haase followed by a possible third round test with Fernando Verdasco and if he’s lucky enough to get past that waiting in the quarters will more than likely be Tsonga. The Tsonga Murray match should be a doozy and if he survives that more than likely Djokovic will be waiting to give him a go.
Good luck is all I have to say with this draw Mr. Murray.
Dark Horse: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Tsonga is another one I’m not always certain about but one thing is for sure; when the guys head is in the game he is mighty dangerous. He started off the summer hard court season with a bang winning Toronto then crapped out in the first round in Cincinnati.
If he gets hot look out and his draw is favorable for him including his possible fourth round match against Andy Murray. This guy could win this thing but he’ll need to stay focused and confident and most importantly play the type of tennis he did in Toronto where he knocked off everyone including Murray.
Long Shot: John Isner: It’s amazing how far American Men’s professional tennis has fallen when I can’t even mention anyone in a US Open preview unless they are a “long shot” and believe me Isner is a long shot to win this event. He’ll have to knock off Djokovic in the fourth round to do so and even if he’s able to pull off this herculean feat it won’t get any easier but isn’t that what a long shot is?
Prediction: Roger Federer will roll unscathed through the draw and after the loaded top half of the draw knocks the daylights out of each other Federer will rout whoever he plays on Monday September 8, 2014 for Grand Slam number 18.