Everything going according to plan. Let’s start in the top half of the top:
Djokovic played with purpose and looked great though this is R1 so we’re just nodding and sipping at this point. Big hitting Russian Gabashvili or Seppi seem the only blip on the radar before he likely sees Goffin in the quarters. Smooth sailing for the Serb who is presumably on his way to a second U.S. Open title. Speaking of Russians, the young Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev look to have Russian tennis on the climb. Both lost in 1R, but took Kohlschreiber and Anderson to 5 and 4 sets, respectively. Gritty performances from some 17 year olds!
The one wild card, of course, is the crazy bull who’s doing everything in his power to summon a legitimate game to avoid any more embarrassment. Guess what. I think he’s reaching the QF with a little momentum, taking revenge perhaps on Lopez (Cincy) and Raonic (who absolutely nuked him off the court at Indian Wells QF); just make sure you’re in front of the telly because the drama will be sold and bought in bundles. In the end, Djokovic takes care of business, but I think the Spaniard makes a mini run here and at least helps ESPN (God save us) drive some ratings.
The next bracket is looney tunes. As I suggested earlier, Nishikori had no chance. Again, last year was an abomination. Unreal. Bye bye. I understand he may have some hip issues, etc., but we all got robbed by that cartoon that was the 2014 U.S. Open final four. Going forward this year, in this part of the draw, pull a name out of the hat. My money is on two possibilities: Tsonga or Cilic. That’s Djokovic’s most likely SF opponent, one of those two. Sure a Ferrer or Chardy or Dimitrov could fly to the moon, but I see their little space ships falling and crashing. Tsonga or Cilic v Djokovic in the SF #1.
The next bracket considers the young but aspiring law firm of Sock, Thiem, Bedene, Chung, and Young. All have advanced and hopefully continue their respective play deeper into draw (Gulbis unfortunately did not survive, having to retire, adding to other untimely similar early exits through out the draw).
This bracket is wide open if Stan has more health issues. He looked a little nonchalant in his match today vs. Ramos, who made the FO champ work for this three setter. But I did see Stan step to the command at critical moments and flat-line the ball and his opponent. The weight of his shots is impressive; there are signs of this champion finding some scary form. That’s the wild card in this entire tournament. If he fades (because of health or some other issue) things open wide for that pool of youngsters and others. Then Murray gets a free ride to the SF. If Stan is the man, look out.
In other words, that QF is Andy and whoever (Stan) else survives. Tough draw, imho.
The bottom, the other QF, will include Roger Federer. There are actually several decent players in this bottom bracket, including Berdych, Karlovic, Tomic, Kohlschreiber, Isner, Gasquet. . . tough matches to be had in this bottom of the 2nd half of the draw. But it seems pointless to predict an Isner/Karlovic upset of the Maestro. Sure, anything could happen, but I suppose Fed meets the winner of Isner/Karlovich and then the winner of Berdych/Gasquet. The Tomic/Hewitt match has some Aussie hierarchy intrigue; seeing either one of those (especially Tomic) catch fire and do some damage, beat Berdych, for instance, would be quite an event.
2nd SF is Fed v. Murray.
I would like to say Stan can beat Murray (he most certainly can), but I think Murray is in pretty good form right now. He dealt well with the volatile Kyrgios today. I participated in a prediction contest and was humored by people picking Murray in easy straights. I watched a bit of the match and could very easily feel the tension. Kyrgios is a real deal, a gifted athlete with a big game to match. He’s immature, pretty emotional, we get that. But if he can put it together, that forehand and serve are ominous. The way Murray dealt with this threat was impressive. Almost three hours. Tough first round match. Should serve him well.
Enjoy the tennis!