With the 2010 US Open upon us, now is the time to analyse who
can win in New York.
I think the tournament is more open than the previous years for three main
First, Roger Federer is not as consistent as he used to be. But
he is back on the right track after going through a tough year. Second, Rafa
Nadal has been in relatively poor form since the start of the hard court
season. And finally, certain other players seem to be on fire at the moment.
Let's review the potential winners:
1. Roger Federer
The man from Switzerland
has had a very tough year, yet losing at Roland Garros and Wimbledon
seems to have boosted his motivation.
He returned at the US Open Series with a whole different
attitude and once again he seems very determined. There is fire in his eyes,
which is proof of his extreme focus. He is showing more adventure during matches
and his footwork is back. He is also taking the ball earlier and trying to play
at the net as much as possible. He is fighting once again.
Roger relaxed when he reclaimed his Cincinnati title. He also reached the Toronto final after
beating Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic in close battles, which can only be reassuring.
A couple of months ago, he would have lost close encounters like
this but he now seems to be back to his best. If that proves to be the case,
it's impossible not to make him as the big favourite to win.
2. Rafael Nadal
Rafa has had an exceptional year compared to Federer's. He
won the best tournaments on clay, and then grabbed titles at both Roland Garros
However his level is still below what he is capable of. And in
that case, it is impossible to win the US Open.
He is struggling with his serve, which is his least favourite shot, as well as his defensive game. Rafa makes a lot of mistake on his
backhand, which forces him to overplay with his forehand.
He needs to play many more matches to regain his best form. The
early rounds at Flushing Meadows should help him play better as the tournament progresses
because he knows how to hurt his opponents even if he is not as his best.
And we can be sure that he will play better and better, making
him my second favourite to win.
Most improved players
1. Novak Djokovic
The Serb has also had a rough year in terms of success. The
idea to have Todd Martin coaching him alongside with Martin Vajda has not worked
well at all and he seems confused. Changing his service action was a disaster as
it forced him to play without what used to be one of his best weapons.
Of course Nole is no Andy Roddick, but this shot allowed him
to better control the direction of a point.
That said, he seems to have rediscovered his game since the
start of the American hardcourt season.
He seems physically very fit, which is one of the best
assets of his game, while his forehand seems to be back.
Djoko is once again very quick on the court, tough on
defence, and able to dictate a point thanks to his forehand.
It is also worth mentioning that he is one of the best
returners in the world and he is playing the best tennis of his season. I
believe Nole is the number one outsider.
2. Andy Murray
The Scot has had his moments. 2008 was a promising year,
when he reached his first Major final at the US Open. Ever since we have been
waiting to consistently see him do that in Majors.
It was a long wait until the Australian Open earlier this
year, which he also lost. After that Andy lost his motivation and was in poor
form for six months.
Wimbledon boosted him with
a run to the semi-finals, and he now seems to be very determined again.
This summer he has played the best tennis of his life,
winning in Toronto
after beating Federer and Nadal. What was impressive was the way he beat them more
than the result in itself.
He was aggressive and his serve was solid while his movement
around the court was good. For the first time he proved he could maintain the
same style of play throughout an entire match.
He now knows when and how to play his shots. He built the
direction of his points with the intention of being the aggressor. He no longer
waits for his opponents to make mistakes.
However, we will have to wait a little longer to see if his
recent success was due to his separation with Miles MacLagan or whether is was
to do with his willingness to defend his Canadian title.
We will have some answers at the US Open. Andy is a serious
contender for the title and if he can recreate his game from Toronto, he will be very dangerous.
3. Tomas Berdych
Tomas is improving constantly. He has a solid, composed and
powerful game and in reaching the French Open semi-finals and the Wimbledon final he has finally managed to find more
consistency in his results.
The Czech can use a good serve and can hit his groundstroke
with power, while his fitness has improved. He has also learned to move better
around the court, which makes opponents more aware during rallies.
Despite all this, I don't think he is ready to win a
He will however be very difficult to beat. Of course he can
beat any of the top five players in the world if they are not at their best. But
if that is not the case, he is still one rung below the others.
4. Robin Soderling
Robin is another player who is constantly improving. His
collaboration with Magnus Norman has proved to be a success after he reached
the French Open final for the second consecutive year.
He is more consistent with his results and has also improved
his fitness a lot.
But he still struggles when playing against the top players
due to the relative weakness of his footwork. That is why he plays well on
However he does possess big groundstrokes: both his serve
and his great hitting from the baseline.
He will be dangerous, but remains an outsider.
5. Marcos Baghdatis
Baghdatis has returned from heaven and is back at the level
that suits him best.
He is one of the most gifted players on the tour having already
reached a Grand Slam final and is full of confidence after having played a great
American hardcourt season.
He is a player who needs emotion to play well and who will
be able to do great things if he can find a positive emotional energy.
He was given a boost by changing his coach and will be a
dangerous foe for any of his opponents.
However I don't think he has the element which will make him
The old guard
1. David Nalbandian
What David has done with his game is a real shame,
considering what a great player he is.
If his motivation were at the same level of his play, he
would have had a much different career.
Injuries and a lack of motivation forced him to be out of
the game for a good part of his career.
He recently rejoined the tennis elite and immediately
started to make headlines.
Nalbandian worked hard physically and immediately reaped the
He is a great counter-puncher, and a huge returner. At his
best, he is a very difficult player to deal with. We will have to watch out for
him but we don't know how he will deal with the rigours of a Grand Slam; to
play five sets for two weeks can be tough.
2. Mardy Fish
It's the great summer special! We never expected the
American to reach such a level this year, but he has proved he is capable of
mixing with the best.
He lost weight and now has the type of game we saw him play
six or seven years ago. He serves well and has learned how to be aggressive
during rallies in order to come to the net more often.
He also moves around faster. He beat Roddick and threatened
Federer during the entire match at the Cincinnati
Yet playing the best tennis of your life is one thing; it's quite
another to win a Major.
His lack of experience at Grand Slams will count against him.