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Ricky Dimon

  • U.S. Open draw preview: Not that interested in Nadal vs. Federer

    2009-08-27 04:12:14

    This is the first of Ricky's five-part U.S. Open preview series, running through Sunday.

    Part 1: Draw preview
    Part 2: Draw analysis
    Part 3: Top 25 contenders
    Part 4: Weekly "Approach Shots"
    Part 5: Full tournament predictions

     

    With the U.S. Open draw ceremony just hours away, everyone—and I mean everyone—is making a fuss over the possibility of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal being in the same half of the bracket.

     

    And understandably so.

     

    Quick. When was last time Federer and Nadal were NOT the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds at a Grand Slam? If you guessed the 2006 Australian Open (which Nadal missed due to injury), then you are correct. The last time it happened when both of them were actually in the tournament was two majors prior at Wimbledon in 2005 (Nadal was seeded fourth behind Federer, Andy Roddick, and Lleyton Hewitt).

     

    So, after that brief but interesting history lesson, it is obvious that the potential for a Nadal-Federer semifinal is a big—and RARE—deal. Nonetheless, I’m not going crazy over it. I’d like to think that Nadal’s placement in the draw will NOT be the first thing that I am going to look at when it comes out on Thursday afternoon, but I admit that it probably will be just because it’s impossible not to. I’m confident, however, that I won’t lose any sleep over it on Thursday night. Well, at least not a LOT.

    In all honesty, there are plenty of things I am more interested in when it comes to the draw, even though they may not necessarily be the first things I look for when I see it.

    For me, the keys to the draw are Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro. To make it easy, we’ll still refer to Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic as “the Big 4” even though Roddick and Del Potro are starting to put pressure on that elite group. We know that each member of “the Big 4” will avoid every other member of “the Big 4” until the semifinals. Two of “the Big 4” will avoid both Roddick and Del Potro in their quarters of the draw, while the other two will be slotted with either Roddick or Del Potro. And THAT is the most interesting aspect of Thursday’s draw. Yes, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko (the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds) are formidable opponents, but they are in a tier below Roddick and Del Potro. It’s safe to assume that every one of “the Big 4” will be hoping see either Tsonga or Davydenko in his quarter as opposed to Roddick or Del Potro.

    Yes, even Federer, who leads the head-to-head series with Roddick 794-3, and who just lost to Tsonga. You think Federer could lose to Tsonga twice in-a-row, the second time at a Grand Slam? Think again.

     

    After I sort out the top six players in the draw, I will next look for what plenty of tennis fans refer to as “the dangerous floaters.” Those, of course, are the players who are unseeded, but whose talent is such that they either SHOULD be seeded, or have a strong chance of taking out a seed. Hewitt was looking like he would qualify as such, but a late surge during the U.S. Open Series has earned him a seed.

     

    So there not many “dangerous floaters” in this particular slam, but still there are enough to note. Marat Safin is absolutely abysmal at the moment, but it would be hard to argue that he does not remain talented. Nobody wants to play John Isner simply because of his serve, as most of his matches come down to just a few points here and there (plus he is playing great right now). I bet some of the top players don’t even want to face Ernests Gulbis. They SHOULD want to play him—because Gulbis has been one of the worst players on tour in 2009—but I bet some of them still don’t. To a lesser extent—but still worth noting—look out for Philipp Petzschner, Ivan Ljubicic, Mikhail Youzhny, Jeremy Chardy, and Richard Gasquet.

     

    I’ll also be looking for weak parts of the draw that could set up well for a run to the second week of the tournament by an unseeded player. Those won’t be hard to find. Unseeded participants will be drawn to face a seed no later than round two, and it’s easy to see which seeded players the unseeded ones will want to be closest to in the bracket: (14) Tommy Robredo, (21) James Blake, (25) Mardy Fish, and (30) Viktor Troicki. Nor would it be too terrible to be placed near (9) Gilles Simon, (15) Radek Stepanek, or (31) Lleyton Hewitt, as those three have been dealing with various injuries of late.

     

    In conclusion, let’s get back to the whole Federer-Nadal thing. Even if you do find the semifinal possibility fascinating, keep in mind that it means NOTHING unless both Federer and Nadal actually make it that far. The chances of that happening, in my opinion, are considerably less than 50 percent. Nadal, for obvious reasons, is no lock for the semis. Even when healthy he has never been to the U.S. Open final. Federer is a virtual lock for the semis (after all, he is ALWAYS in the semifinals of a slam), but perhaps not quite as much of a lock as usual despite being in fine form. Yes he has won the last two Slams and picked up the Cincinnati title, but he has still lost more than his fair share of matches in 2009 and has survived many more near-losses.

     

    So, that’s what I’ll be poring over just past noon on Thursday. How about everyone else? Did I miss anything?

     

    And, finally, are there people out there who will take one look at their printed version of the draw and immediately tear it to shreds if Federer and Nadal are in the same half? Personally I would not go that far, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be tempted to!

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Comments

Del Potro and Roddick must be in opposite halves, correct?

fuzz , 8/27/09 5:29 AM


Great draw preview, Ricky.

I might be one of those on the borderline of tearing up my draw sheet if Roger and Rafa are on the same half. I don't know, there seems to be something wrong in tennis equilibrium if Roger and Rafa were to meet in SEMIs of a Slam. :P I'm spoilt, I know, but I just really crave for a Fed-Nadal final. Will be hard-pressed who I want to win though...would be lovely if Rafa completes a Career Slam but Fed might just implode to no end if he loses to Rafa AGAIN in a Slam final.

I'm surprised you have such lacking faith in Fed and Nadal, Ricky! I would predict Fed to at least reach the semis...firm favourite for a final spot - and Rafa at least quarter-finals, very possibly semis.

But I think the Top 4 are looking solid. The one "outsider" that has the potential to spoil the party would be Andy Roddick. Delpo is good but not good enough yet to outlast any of the Big 4 in terms of a 5-setter at a Slam.

jyannis , 8/27/09 6:05 AM


I wouldn't tear the paper...but I think I might give the screen or sheet a dirty look. The chance of them versing each other is a great thing to see, but...something about it not coming down to an epic FINAL is unpleasant, I mean really. If they pull an 08 Wimby, and the winner has to go out and lose the final I think frowning will describe about 90% of the world populations facial expression.

I think Roddick better hope to be on the opposite half as Federer, merely because the man probably doesn't want to look at the h2h before the match, and you are right that Fed would be pleased too, but it is Roddick's hope first I think. Del Po, I don't think he cares, he is a clam one, he has Slam written on his face. He, would love to have Nadal, given their last two matches, and Nadal would not love him. I hope for a nice draw, Del Po and Murray in the quarters and Roddick Novak to get that rivalry into another gear. Nole should come off stronger in a best of 5 set. Personal dream matches.

Oh and Jeremy Chardy, that boy has skills. I must say, he came up with some shots against Murray, and if morehad gone his way, Murray and Montreal might not be a combination. My personal opinion of course. I look for him to make the The round of 16. Unless he gets a member of "big four".

Recordbreaks , 8/27/09 6:33 AM


My surprise is that you (and a lot of people) continue to see Djokovic as significantly better than Roddick/delPo. Despite his Cincy final showing, it seems that, at least when the other top 3 are playing well, they could contain Djokovic pretty well. If Djokovic gets Roddick or del Potro, I'm not sure I would see the Djoker as a favorite to get to the semis.

raptord14 , 8/27/09 6:35 AM


RICKY, i LOVED your thread -

Fed to win!

Recordbreaks - a fantastic reply - really thorough and well thought through! loving it!

I really hope that they dont refer to rafa as "world No. 3". It really doesn't sound right. Former No.1 or grand slam champion is much more fitting. This is just weird.
Fed and Nadal go together like bread and butter, tea and cake, you know what I mean?

maxi , 8/27/09 8:36 AM


Yes Ricky,
you missed the fact that Nadal had never got to the AO final until he won it this year. If Federer and Nadal are not in the same half of the draw then it is possible that they could meet in the final. How many GS finals in the recent past have not involved Federer and Nadal? Nadal has been well rested this half of the season which is unusual for him. It is because of fatigue that he has not done well in NY, because he has always gone to virtually every final of the clay court season, and done well on grass, so had played more matches than anyone else

Sky showed Federer and Nadal unveiling their kit for the USO with a lot of fanfare in NY. Federer is in black shorts and bright red polo trimmed with black, and Rafa is in black shorts and yellow polo with a blue bandana.

McEnroe says Murray is the obvious contender, and Nadal said that he's never done well in NY, that last year was his best opportunity to win it, but he arrived a little bit too tired after a long season. This year he says he is fresh, but hopefully, not too fresh.

The reporter said Nadal not being the favourite did not stop him being mobbed by adoring fans, Federer was also mobbed.

e&oe

carrie , 8/27/09 9:23 AM


Haha RB, if Rafa and Roger pull an 08 Wimby in the semis, then say hello to Slam Winner Murray!
I think AndyR is the one capable of doing the most damage to the top 4, and I'm pretty sure he'll end up in Djo's quarter.

stu , 8/27/09 2:19 PM


stu, I'm intrigued by you being 'pretty sure' that Roddick will not only end up on the same side of the draw as Djokivic but also in his qtr. i'm pretty sure that Rafa and Djokovic will be on opposite sides of the draw, which is a good thing for Rafa, because I think he'll have less competition from Roger and Andy M.

e&oe

carrie , 8/27/09 2:35 PM


3 and 4 are always on different sides of the draw. same as 1 and 2 are. so rafa and djoko won't meet til final if they both get that far

Sib69 , 8/27/09 2:41 PM


carrie, that was not an insinuative remark about the draw procedure...more like a comment bemoaning Djokovic's horrible luck with Slam draws.

stu , 8/27/09 2:46 PM


Sib, i dont think that is correct - it is only No.1 and No. 2 seeds that are opposite ends of the draw - there is a chance that No.3 and No.4 may still be in the same mix.
Ricky - I think this is right? correct me if I'm wrong.

maxi , 8/27/09 3:01 PM


No maxi. I think they pick 1 and 2, then draw again for 3 and 4 and so on...

stu , 8/27/09 3:25 PM


3 & 4 are always on opposite sides of the draw, they are the first two to be drawn for opposite sides of the draw. I believe the players are put in different pockets by grade so that all the top ten do not end up on the same side of the draw.

carrie , 8/27/09 4:09 PM


maxi - 3 and 4 (as stu and carrie said) are in different halves.

raptord - I am not saying Djoker is considerably better than Roddick and DP. The difference is that Djoker is a top 4 seed, and that is critical because it guarantees he is not in the same quarter as Fed, Murray, or Nadal.

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 4:26 PM


here is how the draw works in terms of seeds:

1 is at the top

2 is at the bottom

3-4 are drawn together (one in the second quarter, one in the third)

5-8 are drawn together (one in each quarter)

9-12

13-16

17-24

25-32

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 5:00 PM


I have worked out the percentage of matches have won against the current top 20:

Nadal has played 136 matches, won 101, lost 35 WON 75% of the matches
Federer 175 matches, won 134, lost 41 WON 77% of the matches
Murray 95 matches, won 54, lost 41 WON 57% of the matches
Djokovic 108 matches, won 59, lost 49 WON 55% of the matches

I don't see why Murray is any more a favourite at the USO than Nadal or Djokovic.

e&oe

carrie , 8/27/09 5:39 PM


carrie - its because while those stats are extremely interesting when looking at a career as a whole (thanks for doing that, by the way), they mean nothing in terms of who is going to win the US Open.

Previous matches on clay and grass, especially, mean nothing for the US Open. Nor are any matches that took place more than, say, one year ago relevant anymore.

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 5:51 PM


carrie, maybe you'd feel better if you looked at it this way - Blandy is the one 'tipped' to win based on his current form, but definitely not the one 'favored' to win by tennis fans!

stu , 8/27/09 6:09 PM


cant watch the draw ceremony! is anyone here going to update us before the website does?!

stu , 8/27/09 6:15 PM


Federer and Nadal are on opposite halves

QFs:

Fed-Davy

Djoker-Roddick

Nadal-Tsonga

DP-Mur ray

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 6:20 PM


Oooh interesting in terms of rivalries...Tsonga and Rafa have AO08 history...another nole-roddick episode, another murray-delp episode..

Damn. Worst possible QF and SF for Nole. I guess I'm going to have to sell my tickets :P

stu , 8/27/09 6:24 PM


Thanks maxi, and I know what you mean about Nadal. I mean, I guess that they will call him world 3 but it honestly makes me think of Novak, even though the last was Murray. I wish they would announce them by achievements. Would give Nole a boost to hear Oz 08 champ too I think. Make them confident and glowing before they play. I think better tennis might result.

Oh and carrie, good point sorta, but given the hardcourts records it is less insightful. Granted, still for an issue of player confidence, it would help in every way.

Recordbreaks , 8/27/09 6:27 PM


Thanks Ricky!

stu , 8/27/09 6:28 PM


Wow Blandy gets Gulbis in R1! cant wait for your draw analysis Ricky!

stu , 8/27/09 6:32 PM


woooow....bad news for Nole:-(... but on the other side it is time for him to go through Roddick finaly. I don't think there is episode anymore between them.
But AR is on fire last few months.
And Fed is calm....easiest opponent...I think it's 16:0 for swiss...poor Davy..:-(

zare , 8/27/09 6:34 PM


You're right zare..The rest of Fed's draw seems like a smooth ride too. Time for the Roger-Slam?

stu , 8/27/09 6:35 PM


Anyone...? where can I see the draw??? plz
...and Stu...don't sell your ticket yet...who knows:-)

zare , 8/27/09 6:39 PM


usopen.org

Nadal vs. Gasquet first round

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 6:41 PM


Gasquet is perfect to help Rafa find his groove. He ain't beating him though, after so much time off....Rafa has a decent draw after that...I think he'll make the semis at least (and further I hope!)

stu , 8/27/09 6:45 PM


Nadal-Gasquet

Djokovic-Ljubicic

Murray-Gulbis

Federer-Britton

(which one doesn't belong!?!?!?)

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 7:00 PM


Oh, Noleee, no... :/

OllyK , 8/27/09 7:11 PM


To answer your question, Ricky:

Nadal-Tsonga

Murray-delP

Djokovic-Roddick

Federer-D avydenko

(which one doesn't belong!?!?!?)

stu , 8/27/09 7:20 PM


Hmmmm...this is hard one...I gues Britton is defintely not right answer???

zare , 8/27/09 7:21 PM


stu - I assume you mean Federer-Davy?

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 7:45 PM


Yes..whats their H2H 12-0?! Of all the opponents he could face in the QF, I think Roger would pick Davy.

stu , 8/27/09 7:54 PM


of course.

Federer got almost the best possible opponent every single step of the way, not just in the quarterfinals!

RickyDimon , 8/27/09 7:57 PM


Ricky, I agree that the stats I prepared should not in itself give any pointers to who should be favourite, but it is interesting. Only Nalbandian has a winning record against Rafa; Rafa, Murray and Simon have a winning record against Federer; Nadal, Roddick, Gonzo, have a winning record against Murray; and Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick, Gonzo have a winning record against Djokovic.

Rafa is the only one of the top 4 with a winning record against the other three.

Fed will walk it to the SF. He always gets the luck of the draw, I don't remember Rafa being that lucky whilst he was No 1.

stu, the draw is on the ATP website.

carrie , 8/27/09 8:45 PM


As much as I love Fed, if he fails before the quarters, he is not in good form. His draw is amazing in a good way. Murray...the poor guy is...wow. That is a bad draw.

Britton? DEVIN BRITTON! XD I must be a draw queen. I actually wanted to see Fed and Britton play after Wimbledon and I got my Murray DelPo and Nole roddick. I am on a role. I couldn't have set up this draw more to my fantasy match possibilities. With the exception of Fed, have no good matches AT ALL until Davy. I mean I wanted to see him play Britton, but that could suck easily.

I give Davy credit though, he should fight Fed, but it is unlikely to me that Fed is member of the Big four most pressured to fall. Eh, Fed should make his 22 consecutive semi. The quarters are all fair to me, except the fact that Davy is a crud against Fed. If he plays like he can it should be a great match.

Recordbreaks , 8/27/09 8:50 PM


I agree RB..Murray has a really bad draw..if he's afraid of big servers. His return game is among the best in the business though, so I think he should be okay..

stu , 8/27/09 9:22 PM


I agree with RB - if Fed falls before the quarters it will really be a whole lotta WTF (although I remember Andreev and Tipsarevic and Berdych AHHHHH...Haas not in the equation because that guy is capable of amazing brilliance when he in ON and traditionally he has always given Fed trouble in Slams with the exception of this year's Wimbly).

Carrie - granted Rafa has only been seeded no.1 for one Slam...that is this year's RG. And correct me if I am wrong (and I think I may be, memory rusty) but wasn't it said that he has the easiest draw and Fed had the tougher one with the whole lotta clay people on his quarter? Or because everyone expected him to stroll to the final and didn't really analyse the players on Rafa's half?

jyannis , 8/27/09 10:24 PM


Actually jyannis, Rafa wasn't at full steam in RG, so we can't use that as an example. But in all other tournaments not only GS, Rafa never got an easy draw, it was always Roger who got it easy.

carrie , 8/27/09 10:46 PM


"granted Rafa has only been seeded no.1 for one Slam...that is this year's RG".

what? he's been seeded no.1 last year in US Open and this year in Melbourne,Paris (and Wimbledon too if that counts).

sisterofnight12 , 8/27/09 11:46 PM


At least in a Slam when Fed goes walkabout he is less likely to loose since it doesn't last the whole match. I was looking at the draw again and I know everyone including myself said Murray's draw as bad...but is it mean are all the Big Four's draw easy except for him? I mean I think he might have every floater possible. (Fed is the easiest, followed by Nadal, until Del Po and then Roddick/Nole have a nice draw minus each other than you have Murray's which looks like something arranged by Satin and bad Karma. Not that he has any...but maybe he broke a mirror.)

Well on the bright side, since Fed has an easy path, I'll have more time to watch Nadal and Nole, whom I grow more fond of every time I see them. Maybe I'll watch some more Murray too...but his "FOCUS" is really...really annoying. Of course, since he has fans there must be something appealing I'm missing. Anyone care to explain his...allure?

stu- Ya, he is a great returner, but the muscles you use for returning are gonna buuuurn him by the end of week one. Granted, out of everyone I think he would take it the most...methodically and unconcerned.

Recordbreaks , 8/28/09 1:38 AM


Great preview. Interesting to read about how you go about analyzing a draw.

maggie , 8/28/09 1:53 AM


"but is it mean are all the Big Four's draw easy except for him? I mean I think he might have every floater possible."

Oh please! He's had his share of ridiculously easy draws, you only have to go as far back as FO09 and Wimby09 to see what I mean. And I'm not even including the Masters events. He should be able to handle a difficult draw at the US Open better than at any other event, so if he complains he's really going to piss me off....

stu , 8/28/09 1:56 AM


Eh, you really think Murray would complain about something like that? Wow, he really does find ways for me to like him less and less every day.

Recordbreaks , 8/28/09 6:06 AM


Murray won't complain. There's no way he will complain about getting Gulbis in the first round.

RickyDimon , 8/28/09 6:19 AM


So true Ricky. Gulbis simply has not lived up to his talent, sadly.

Roddick has obvious (and) serious reasons to want this GS opportunity!

Then again, so does Rafa. Rafa was not back to himself yet in Cincy but ...remember, if he can win this he will essentially accomplish...well a number of triumphs have to be on his mind. ( praying for the 'fedal' final )

Murray. That guy has to be absolutely gunning for his first (and long overdue according to many) GS win.

I watched some of Delpo's matches and his fitness imo is still questionable. Nole is the one with the best shot to spoil the hopes of those of us wanting a Fedal, provided he can get past Roddick and that will be a huge 'must see' match!

Where is Malt! :O :(

zoey234 , 8/28/09 9:49 AM


sisterofnight, I am SO sorry! Brain freeze COMPLETELY. I am unworthy of calling myself a Rafa fan, but I beg forgiveness on the fact that it was 6AM my time when I wrote that and I was getting ready to go work...yes, at 6AM.

Yeap, now I remember the tough draws for Rafa at AO09, don't remember much about USO08 honestly.

RB - Fed's tendency to go walkabout makes me want to kick his Feder-pants like really hard. Seriously spare me the agony. Half his struggles result from him suddenly deciding to go mentally drifting and "finding himself by going on a walkabout" to quote the kid in the Aussie tourism campaigns. He has the ability to make me go all AHHHHH regardless of whoever he is playing, tomato can (borrowing a phrase from another tennis blogger) or not.

I'm actually interested in most of the Mandy matches, if only to see how he matches up against the "toughest draw ever".

jyannis , 8/28/09 10:09 AM



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