Thursday, August 23, 2007

The US Open Men's Draw

by Craig Hickman

(1) Roger Federer SUI vs. QUALIFIER
[WC] John Isner USA vs. Jarkko Nieminen FIN (26)

(21) Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP vs. Feliciano Lopez ESP
Robert Kendrick USA vs. Igor Andreev RUS
[WC] Donald Young USA vs. Chris Guccione AUS
Sergio Roitman ARG vs. Richard Gasquet FRA (13)

(9) Tomas Berdych CZE vs. Marc Gicquel FRA
Simone Bolelli ITA vs. Julien Benneteau FRA
Gilles Simon FRA vs. QUALIFIER
Fernando Verdasco ESP vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu FRA (22)

(32) Ivo Karlovic CRO vs. Arnaud Clement FRA
Thomas Johansson SWE vs. Nicolas Massu CHI
Jose Acasuso ARG vs. Martin Vassallo Arguello ARG
Justin Gimelstob USA vs. Andy Roddick USA (5)

On paper, this draw gives new meaning to lonely at the top. Just a few weeks ago, it seems, I wrote this: "Raja takes this quarter in his half-sleep. (Once again, like clockwork, he hoards the most qualifiers with seven of the 16 in his quarter, five in his section.)" I was talking about Wimbledon, but the same almost applies here. Not a lot to add, really, except this time The Name only gets six qualifiers in his quarter. But he's guaranteed to face a qualifier in his first two rounds and there's a 50/50 chance he'll get another in the third. Roddick will be shooting himself for not keeping his ranking up. Another Slam, another quarterfinal loss. If he gets that far. No one wants to see Dr. Ivo anywhere near them in a draw, and he's Andy's first seed. First-round matches of note: Young vs. Guccione, Ferrero vs. Lopez, Verdasco vs. Mathieu.


(4) Nikolay Davydenko RUS vs. [WC] Jesse Levine USA
Nicolas Kiefer GER vs. Vincent Spadea USA
Peter Luczak AUS vs. Luis Horna PER
[WC] Alex Kuznetsov USA vs. Nicolas Almagro ESP (28)

(19) Andy Murray GBR vs. QUALIFIER
Juan-Pablo Guzman ARG vs. Jonas Bjorkman SWE
Dominik Hrbaty SVK vs. Hyung-Taik Lee KOR
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP vs. Guillermo Canas ARG (14)

(10) Tommy Haas GER vs. QUALIFIER
Benjamin Becker GER vs. QUALIFIER
Paul Goldstein USA vs. Sebastien Grosjean FRA
Max Mirnyi BLR vs. Marcos Baghdatis CYP (18)

(29) Filippo Volandri ITA vs. Michael Llodra FRA
Stefan Koubek AUT vs. Sam Querrey USA
Fabrice Santoro FRA vs. Albert Montanes ESP
Michael Russell USA vs. James Blake USA (6)

If Blake doesn't make his first Slam semifinal with this draw, he might want to consider a different profession. This isn't a cupcake. It's cotton candy. With the drunk J-Block rooting him on, only his head can keep him from another no-show against The Name in the semifinals. First-round matches of note: Kuznetsov vs. Almagro, Hrbaty vs. Lee.


(8) Tommy Robredo ESP vs. QUALIFIER
Mardy Fish USA vs. QUALIFIER
QUALIFIER vs. Michael Berrer GER
Ernests Gulbis LAT vs. Potito Starace ITA (30)

(17) Carlos Moya ESP vs. QUALIFIER
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP vs. Igor Kunitsyn RUS
Mariano Zabaleta ARG vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber GER
Nicolas Devilder FRA vs. Mikhail Youzhny RUS (11)

(16) Lleyton Hewitt AUS vs. Amer Delic USA
Andreas Seppi ITA vs. Agustin Calleri ARG
QUALIFIER vs. Nicolas Lapentti ECU
Edouard Roger-Vasselin FRA vs. Juan Monaco ARG (23)

(31) Jurgen Melzer AUT vs. Diego Hartfield ARG
Juan Martin del Potro ARG vs. Nicolas Mahut FRA
Carlos Berlocq ARG vs. Radek Stepanek CZE
Mario Ancic CRO vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3)

The Next Big Thing will have his work cut out for him. I think he'll get past Ancic, but maybe not. Then he'll have to deal with all that Radek Stepanek brings to the table, which, on hardcourts this summer, is a lot. Hewitt will want revenge from Wimbledon and in New York, he'll get it. With the exception of Moya, who will need to have a healthy foot, and Youzhny, who will need a healthy back, everyone else in this quarter is wallpaper. Okay, that's an overstatement. I'm not yet sold on del Potro in Slams and Monaco looks like he could turn out to be a decent hardcourt player, but this isn't their time. Hewitt makes another US Open semifinal. Unless Djoke beats him. First-round matches of note: del Potro vs. Mahut, Ancic vs. Djokovic.


(7) Fernando Gonzalez CHI vs. Teimuraz Gabashvili RUS
Robby Ginepri USA vs. Olivier Rochus BEL
Stanislas Wawrinka SUI vs. Evgeny Korolev RUS
QUALIFIER vs. Marat Safin RUS (25)

(20) Juan Ignacio Chela ARG vs. [WC] Michael McClune USA
Danai Udomchoke THA vs. [WC] Wayne Odesnik USA
QUALIFIER vs. Gael Monfils FRA
Kristof Vliegen BEL vs. Ivan Ljubicic CRO (12)

(15) David Ferrer ESP vs. Florian Mayer GER
Florent Serra FRA vs. Werner Eschauer AUT
Xavier Malisse BEL vs. Kristian Pless DEN
Ivan Navarro Pastor ESP vs. David Nalbandian ARG (24)

(27) Dmitry Tursunov RUS vs. Tim Henman GBR
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA vs. Oscar Hernandez ESP
Janko Tipsarevic SRB vs. [WC] Ryan Sweeting USA
[WC] Alun Jones AUS vs. Rafael Nadal ESP (2)

With Rafa's woes on North American hardcourts this season and last, this quarter might be considered a pick 'em. Or it might not. But Rafa has nothing to complain about, that's for sure. If Raja's hoarding qualifiers, then Rafa is hoarding wildcards. Four of the eight are in this quarter. Ferrer might want to peek deep into the second week of a Slam for the first time, unless Nalbandian puts his mind to his game and decides to get there instead. I'd love to see Nalbalandian (finally!) play Rafa, and a Slam is no better place to have a first meeting. If Gonzalez wakes up, he could get out of this quarter as he did in Melbourne, but I'm not feeling that right now. Perhaps Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will remember what it's like to win the US Open juniors and play out of his mind. But who would bet on it? If Rafa's forearm holds up, he'll make his first US Open semifinal. First-round matches of note: Wawrinka vs. Korolev, Tursunov vs. Henman.

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