Patrick Mouratoglou

Top seeds living up to favourites tags

Patrick Mouratoglou

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Heading into the second week of the US Open, it's a good time to look back on what's happened during a busy first week.

The outside bets to lift the trophy have, once again, been disappointing.

Tomas Berdych and Marcos Baghdatis both went out in the first round. David Nalbandian, Andy Murray and Mardy Fish lasted a bit longer but eventually reached their limits.

And so once again Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer seem to be on course with Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling as their main opponents.

When it comes to winning a Grand Slam, there's no improvising.

Both Baghdatis and Nalbandian are amazing players; there is no question they are gifted and they seem to have found their way back to form this season.

But the question is, how long can they keep it up for? You can't reach a Grand Slam final just because you manage to rediscover your motivation for three months of the year. Getting into the last four of a Major requires a commitment to training and a long-term focus.

It's a building process and that's why those tournaments are different from the others - you can't just arrive and get it in a snap. Winning at a Grand Slam is a completely different thing to achieve.

And this is something Murray in particular needs to start addressing. He has far more perseverance than Baghdatis and Nalbandian but he really needs to find someone to guide him now.

His loss against Stan Wawrinka was a huge disappointment. His body let him down. The Scotsman has seen his whole game style explode since he won in Toronto in early August.

He was too defensive against Wawrinka, he wasn't inspired at all and was searching for easy answers instead of setting up a real game plan. He showed the limits of his game; the limits of a really great player lacking, at least for now, the tools that could get him to his first Grand Slam win.

Federer and Nadal are still there in a very convincing way and both of them are yet to drop a single set.

The Spaniard is playing really aggressive tennis and going for his flat shots, although that could be an issue against a good counterpuncher.

As far as Federer goes, I have to say that I've been worried lately. His wins over Paul-Henri Mathieu and Jurgen Melzer left me with a bitter taste and I've noticed some signs of pain in his back again.

I say this because I've felt he has been lacking in some initiative and being very static with his footwork - he's not pushing down enough on his legs and seems to be lacking some frequency there. And this is totally different behaviour compared with what he had been showing in Toronto and Cincinnati.

When you look at the top of the draw, you can see that Nadal shouldn't be confronted by anyone who could disturb his route to the final. He has Feliciano Lopez next and then either David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco. That'll likely be followed by either Wawrinka or Sam Querrey. Unless there's a huge surprise, Nadal will be a finalist this year and, in my opinion, he is also the main favourite to win it.

Federer on the other hand has a much tougher draw. He'll first have to get rid of Soderling, which definitely seems doable. But then he should come face-to-face with Djokovic. And that will be a really difficult task.

Physical condition is going to be the key at this end of the tournament and trying to overcome Djokovic and then Nadal back-to-back will require Federer to be in perfect shape. But we'll know more about that after his clash against Soderling.

As far as the women's draw is concerned, Caroline Wozniacki is playing the tennis of her life.

It's no big surprise to me that Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters have confirmed how strong they are this year, neither of them dropping a set so far. And we could well get a repeat of last year's final.

The Dane perfectly dealt with her match against Maria Sharapova: committing very few unforced errors, reading the Russian's game with ease and confirming once again how much she has improved her serve.

Compared to last year, Wozniacki now knows how to take advantage of the short ball and she uses her serve with much more quality. She should easily come past either Dominika Cibulkova or Vera Zvonareva and book her place in the final.

Clijsters will be confronted with a much tougher task but she should still be fine. She'll have to battle against Sam Stosur, who won an epic fight against Elena Dementieva. But the Australian may arrive very tired after such a thriller.

If she wins that one, the Belgian would most likely face Venus Williams. But the American hasn't been fully convincing in her first week in New York. She has been struggling with ups and downs in all her matches, so she'll be the clear outsider against Kim.

I'd be very surprised if this year's women's final isn't a repeat of that in 2009.

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