Thursday, August 25, 2011

The U.S. Open draws are out (so are some of my picks)!

Starting next Monday, almost all the best men and women on tour will begin competing for the last remaining Grand Slam title up for grabs at the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and the draws are here . While there have been several notable withdrawals, among them 2-time defending champ Kim Clijsters, it should be a terrific tournament; the women’s final will be on "Super Saturday", September 10th, and – unless it is rain delayed – the men’s final will be on the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01.

Looking at the draw as I have every year since 2001, there are some intriguing potential early round matchups. Of course, the U.S .Open has its own Bracket Challenge, now in its second year, but I doubt they started doing it because of me (I started doing it as a response to the NCAA basketball tournament, because I know more about men’s and women’s tennis than I do college b-ball;-) You’re welcome to use the following to make your own picks, and I won’t even expect you to share your bounty with me should you get a prize or win it all.

Interesting first round matchups include a couple of veterans recovering from injuries – big serving Ivo Karlovic against big hitting Fernando Gonzalez – as well as – Mikhail Youzhny, who always seems to do well in New York, vs. Ernests Gulbis, who won in L.A. earlier this summer. I’m not sure how to pick Ryan Harrison against Marin Cilic, but hope the American upstart makes it through in order to face another up-and-comer in Bernard Tomic, from Australia, who will likely beat his qualifier opponent in the first round … and Monfils didn’t get a very easy first round draw in Grigor Dimitrov! Good luck Gael!

Some projected second round matchups include an all-American contest between Robbi Ginepri & John Isner and Ivan Ljubicic vs. David Nalbandian. Besides the top seeds, those who seem to have an easy pass all the way to the third round include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fernando Verdasco, who would then face each other in the third round, Stan Wawrinka (unless Donald Young truly has finally arrived), and Andy Roddick, thankfully.

Third round matches that are possible include Alexandr Dolgopolov against Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych against Janko Tipsarevic, and Robin Soderling vs. Isner. The third round also has some historical matchups which would have been better a couple of years ago, but because of the age and current play of Nikolay Davydenko (who plays top-seeded Novak Djokovic) and either Ljubicic or Nalbandian (who would play 2nd seed Rafael Nadal), they aren’t likely to be as interesting.

Check back Monday when I’ll break things down a bit further and/or share some of my women’s picks.

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