Posts Tagged ‘U. S. Open’


In this episode, The CouchExpert’s Goutham Chakravarthi and Rajat Jain discuss the favourites for the U. S. Open 2011, the draw, injuries to key players and coaching woes of some of the others. They also discuss some potentially classic matches to look forward to in the first week.

Will it be another dominating performance to expect from favourites Djokovic and Serena Williams or will Djokovic’s shoulder and mental fatigue finally catch up? Will Serena implode? Will Murray break his duck at the Slams finally? Is Federer still a force past 30? Will Sharapova make a splash with her game or just with her outfit? Will Lisicki Vs. Venus Williams be the women’s version of Sampras Vs. Ivanesevic?

Listen to the podcast to know their opinions.

Center Court – Episode1


Rajat Jain
Head of Tennis, The CouchExpert
24 August 2011

 

The U.S. Open series is over, and there is a lot to look forward to in a week from now as the final grand slam of the year begins in New York. The two masters before the Open are usually supposed to give us a fair idea of who are the players to look up to during the Open. Unfortunately, Canada masters is usually the first tournament after a month long layoff (for the top players) and hence are looking to shake off the rust. In Cincinnati, the conditions are extremely hot and humid, and hence the players are cautious to not over exert themselves ahead of the Open. The quality of tennis does take a hit, as was evident by the lackluster performance of all the top-4 this year. So who are the top contenders for the trophy two weeks from now?

Djokovic and Murray are among the top contenders for the Open

Novak Djokovic(1): The sub-optimal form of the Serb was still sufficient to make him end up as the best player of the two masters. Even though he sustained a shoulder injury in the final, it is the mental fatigue that would worry him. He looked disinterested during both tournaments, and this was after he had a month long break post-Wimbledon. How much would that be a factor going into the Open? And what about the shoulder injury? It would have been serious enough to make him pull off a match for the first time since Jan 2009. More importantly, will it effect the confidence on his serve which has become such a potent weapon this year?

Rafael Nadal (2): The five losses to Djokovic has made a huge dent in Nadal’s confidence this year. It is not that he lost early in both tournaments, because he has not done well here historically. It is the way he played in these tournaments–a third set tie-breaker against Dodig after having a break lead twice during the third set, and the error-prone three hour slog against Verdasco. In addition, he faced problems with his foot during Wimbledon, burned fingers here, and some more blisters in the feet. The physical issues, while genuine, will definitely impact him even more. Despite all this, he still managed to reach the semis in 2009, his worst year. I would expect at least a repeat of that if not more.

Roger Federer (3): Federer loves playing in New York … period. And if anything, his form in these masters is not indicative of his performance at the Open. He won Cincinnati in the last two years and failed to make the finish line at Open, while he lost in the first round in 2008 and yet saved his year by beating Murray in the finals. The difference being, during 2008 his losses were brushed off as one-off, while now they are becoming a pattern, like with Berdych and Tsonga. This definitley eases the pressure on the rest of the tour and makes them more confident.

Andy Murray (4): Murray last reached the final here in 2008. He has improved a lot in these three years. The problem for him is that his peers have improved even more. These are his peak years as a player, and with each passing major, the pressure on him to win that elusive one increases exponentially. Historically, he has not played well here in the last two seasons going down to big hitters not afraid to compromise on their shots, but one has to agree this is his best chance to win a major given the possible mental burnout of Djokovic, phsyical problems of Nadal and the natural decline of Federer.

Mardy Fish (6): There is no doubt that Fish is the best American player at present, and he deserves it. His new found all court game is exciting to watch and so is his eagerness to improve. Even with all this, he is miles away from the top-4 as the best game of Fish was still unable to beat a 50 percent Djokovic at Montreal, while he lost yet again to Murray at Cincinnati. Even though the win against Nadal was progressive, even he knows the Nadal he might face at New York will be vastly improved from Cincinnati. More than winning the title, his first step should be to make his maiden semifinal appearance, and given the recent form, he is definitely in contention for the same.

Juan Martin del Potro (19): Given his giant leap in the rankings in the first five months, the summer hard court series was supposed to be a bonanza for this gentle giant from Tandil. However, uncharacteristic losses to Cilic and Gulbis, and the retirement at Cincinnati does not bode well for him going to the Open. If not, it would be a huge disappointment given how the tour desperately needs somebody to step it up and challenge the top-4.

Other players to watch out: Bernard Tomic who showed some real promise during Wimbledon, Jo Wilfried Tsonga who is showing renewed enthusiasm on court, Grigor Dimitrov and the local boy Ryan Harrison.


Rajat Jain
Head of Tennis, The CouchExpert
23 August 2011

After winning the title at Cincinnati, Maria Sharapova is one of the top contenders for the U.S. Open

After winning the title at Cincinnati, Maria Sharapova is one of the top contenders for the U.S. Open

Now that all the mandatory tune ups for the U.S. Open are over and it is only less than a week before the Open commences, lets have a look at how the top men and women contenders for the last Grand Slam of the year.

Serena Williams (29): Few would argue against Serena as the favorite going into the Open. Her wins at Stanford and Toronto, and her utter demolition of top women, including Maria Sharapova, does not give a single hint that she was out of courts for almost a year before Wimbledon. In fact, her being seeded at the Open would be a blessing in disguise for the top women as they’ll avoid her at least till the third round. The absence of the defending champion, Kim Clijsters, will only make her contention even stronger.

Still, as the 29th seed at the Open, Serena will be the most dangerous floater in the women’s draw.

Maria Sharapova (4): Can you imagine what this Russian blonde can achieve in her second stint if she solves out her issues around her ridiculously unreliable serve? She committed 11 double faults in the final at Cincinnati, and still managed to beat Jankovic 6-4 in the third. In fact, her past few results—Rome winner, French Open semifinalist, Wimbledon finalist, Toronto R16 and Cincinnati winner—have been the most consistent of all the women save Serena. Despite all the uncertainty in the women’s tour, Sharapova is someone who can be relied to make a deep run at the Open. Of course, if she does not commit 15 double faults in a match.

If she ends up winning the Open, women’s tennis will have found their marquee face again.

Petra Kvitova (6): Was her slump at the North American tournaments just a one off or will she suffer the post-first-slam-victory-slump that engulfed players like Ana Ivanovic? It would probably be too much to ask her to repeat her Wimbledon feat at the Open. However, it would not be too far fetched to expect her to go deep into the draw, possibly a semifinal apperance.

Li Na (7): Ever since her historic victory at Roland Garros, she has not done anything special. However, she had not done anything special between her run to the final at Melbourne and victory at Roland Garros, either. In fact, she lost five straight matches during this period. This suggests that her form in the smaller tournaments is no indication of how she will perform at the grandest of stages.

Caroline Wozniacki (1): It is a bit baffling that the world’s top lady baller (at least on the computer) is fifth on the list of contenders for the Open. But lack of a major coupled with dismal performances in recent smaller events—something which she was great at!—do not give good indications ahead of the Open. To her credit, she has taken criticism sportingly and always has a smile on her face. But lack of a coach would hurt her chances at the Open, given how deeply she relied on her father for on-court coaching during the premier tournaments. Failing to win a single match during the North American hard court series will definitely rob her of confidence and a second week showing here would be a good start to her new career without the coaching services of her father.

Victoria Azarenka (5): Always considered a threat in every tournament, she is also at the stage where the question “when will she win a major” will turn into “can she win a major”. She has no apparent weakness at the back of the court, but she doesn’t have a strength either. And lack of a solid weapon is usually her downfall to an opponent who either has more firepower, or is more consistent than her. She finally reached her first major semis at Wimbledon this year, but to expect anything more than that will likely result in a disappointment.

This more or less wraps us the preview on the top contenders for U.S. Open. The other faces to look out for will be the fast rising Andrea Petkovic, with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Dominica Cibulkova and Sabine Lisicki being the dark horses.

Next, we’ll look at the top contenders on the men’s side.