U.S. Open: Men’s tournament, a tough call
When Novak Djokovic took on Jerzy Janowicz (at 01.00 Nigeria time), it flagged off a Men’s tournament whose outcome is difficult to predict. It is true that the Serb has dominated the men’s game for a long time; amassing an unprecedented huge fortune in Prize Money. This year, he won in Australia and Roland Garros and he was victor in Masters 1000 Tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid.
However, he lost in the third round at Wimbledon. The notion that he was not invincible was heightened by his loss to resurging Juan Martin del Potro in the first round of the Rio Olympics, where he represented his country. But his record in Flushing Meadows earns him the slot above the rest. On the heels of the world number one is Andy Murray. The Scot Briton won the Olympic Gold on the grass-courts of London in 2012 and staved off all opponents to retain the top Prize in Rio. The early conclusion of the Olympics tennis tournament gave him the opportunity to head north and to acclimatize in the warm-up tournaments though he lost to Marin Cilic in Cincinnati.
However, his successes in the year include titles in Rome, Queens Club London, Wimbledon and he was runner-up to his nemesis Novak in Melbourne and Paris. It is to be hoped that after so many losses to Djokovic in Grand Slam finals, Murray and his team would have figured a strategy for not losing to the Serb. If the seeding holds through, the duo will face off in the finals on September 11.
Memories could help; considering that he won his first Grandslam title when he defeated Novak Djokovic in New York in 2012.Just as they say, 24 hours is a long time in politics, a fortnight is elastically stretched in the major tennis tournaments.
Potential winners are on the path of the top contenders. Nadal would have come to mind, as the man to spoil the party for Djokovic and Murray but the Spaniard has had problems with his left (playing) wrist; that caused his loss in Paris and withdrawal from Wimbledon in June. It was a great delight that he had healed sufficiently to play in the Olympics, where he had a close loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the Singles semi-finals but won the doubles for Spain. Rio gave Monica Puig the supporting song in Spanish: “sie se puede” (you can do it) and the lyrics could ring in mind and carry Nadal very far in New York.
In the remaining list of top potential winners there are those who had won Grandslam titles; Stan Warwinka (Australian), Juan Martin del Potro (US Open), and Marin Cilic (US Open). Although he is yet to win a Grandslam, Japan’s Kei Nishikori, seeded sixth, is a tough competitor who could pull a surprise.
The player to watch is Canada’s Milos Raonic, seeded fifth. Since he took on John McEnroe, that master of the serve-and-volley game has added the net shot to complement Raonic’s booming and effective serve, delivered from a towering height of 6’ 6”. The arsenal and a wide wing-span got him a five-set victory over Federer in the Wimbledon semi-finals before he lost to Murray in the finals. In his bracket of the draw, he might face Djokovic in the quarterfinals.