By Josh Kramer
Starting on Monday, all eyes in the tennis world will be focused on the Big Apple for two whole weeks. The year’s final Grand Slam is just around the corner, and as is typically the case, there are plenty of questions to be answered in Flushing.
-Will Andy Murray finally capture the elusive first Grand Slam?
-How will New York respond to a Nadal-less field?
-Will Roger Federer leave with #18?
-Will Kim Clijsters’ farewell party be one to remember?
-Does Venus have a Jimmy Connors 1991-esque run in her?
-Will Serena leave with #15?
Following the Roger Federer half-decade in Flushing (2004-2008), there have been three different winners at the US Open. For the first time in a long time, there have been three different winners of the year’s first three Grand Slams in 2012 (this last happened in 2005). Roger Federer was the unfortunate winner of the “Andy Murray Sweepstakes” and will have to play the gold medal winner in the semifinals if the two are fortunate enough to get there.
Champion: Roger Federer
Bold prediction I know. The “GOAT” to win another major. At the ripe age of 31-years-old, Roger Federer looked as good as ever in Cincinnati, failing to drop a set or even a service game throughout the duration of the tournament. On the way to the championship, Federer bageled former number one and current number two Novak Djokovic in a mere 20 minutes to begin the finals. Despite a tough draw that could include Verdasco, Fish, and Berdych before potential dates with Murray and Djokovic, Federer is in an unbelievable mind-set. He appears to be extremely relaxed and ready to take home #18.
Contenders: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
As if anyone else has a prayer. The last eleven majors have been won by three men (Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer). Though there are many other respectable players, it is hard to overlook the defending US Open champion (Djokovic) and the reigning Olympic gold-medal winner (Murray). After a disappointing Olympics, Djokovic regained his championship form in Toronto and Cincinnati. Andy Murray also is gushing with confidence, and appears to have a solid chance to claim numero uno.
Dark Horse: Juan Martin del Potro
Back on September 14, 2009, a tall 20-year-old shocked Roger Federer in five sets to win his first Grand Slam and become the first player in tennis history to defeat both Federer and Nadal in the same Grand Slam tournament. Thererefore, the 6 foot 6 stud from Argentina is the last player not named Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic to claim a major. The man with arguably the most potent forehand in tennis is finally healthy and having a fantastic summer. Do not sleep on the 23-year-old who not only took down Novak Djokovic at the Olympics, but also has taken home the title in Flushing before.
The Nancy Drew novel that is women’s tennis continues on. Each of the last seven Grand Slams have been won by a different player of a different nationality. It is no secret that people crave parity. Sports fans also desire star power though. Women’s tennis is sorely lacking in this department. Samantha Stosur shocked the world last September in dismantling the heavily favored Serena Williams. Who will provide the surprise this year? Your guess is as good as mine.
Champion: Serena Williams
As much as it pains me, it is extremely difficult to pick against Serena. Despite looking very disinterested at times (see Cincinnati), Serena is still the best player on the planet when she wants to be. Playing in New York should rekindle the fire for two weeks in a similar fashion to how the London Olympics did. No athlete in the history of sport has demonstrated the ability to turn the switch on and off the way Serena Williams does. Over the next two weeks, the switch will be on when necessary, as Serena muscles her way to a fourth US Open title.
Contenders: Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters
Despite a surprising fourth round exit at Wimbledon, Sharapova has won in Flushing before, and played great tennis at the Olympics up until the gold medal match. With the number three ranking and a career Grand Slam, it is hard not to consider the Russian beauty a major contender. Then there is the “Kim Clijsters Farewell Tour.” This is it for the three-time US Open and four-time Grand Slam champion. Flushing has always been her sanctuary. Expect Clijsters to go out in style as she finally calls it quits for good this time.
Dark Horse: Venus Williams
At the dinosaur age of 32, it is no secret that the glory days of Venus Williams are long gone. In Cincinnati though, she demonstrated that there is still some fight in the seven-time Grand Slam champion. Back in 1991, a 39-year-old by the name of Jimmy Connors lit a fire in Flushing when he made an unthinkable run to the semifinals. Sadly, it was spoiled by Jim Courier. Wouldn’t it be something if Venus could put on a similar performance, that would likely end at the hands of her sister in the semifinals? Think on that.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.