Thoughts on the USO Draw

2016 US Open - Day 11

Start at the top.

It’s a bit fruitless to complain about certain players’ draws, their luck or bad luck, and/or hint at some sort of suspicion or conspiracy. Two recent major draws that seem a bit soft are the 2018 Aussie Open for Federer and the 2017 U.S. Open for Nadal — won by each respectively.

Haase and Gasquet were any immediate threats in his AO draw; he ended-up with Gasquet in the 3R and because of early upsets (Raonic and Querrey both knocked out), he got Fucsovics in the R16. He saw Berdych in the QF, an injured Chung in the SF.

Keep in mind, echoing my point yesterday that it’s a shame and worth reminding our collective tennis brains that Djokovic did not maintain his attendance in 2017 and much of 2018 where he would have had a chance to play that ascendant Fedal. Djokovic lost to Chung in the R16. So as easy as this draw is, upsets do happen. The draw itself was actually decent and I probably shouldn’t even have included this in the easiest-fucking-Major-draws in the history of the world.

Cilic was a tough finals opponent there, who actually had a shot, but the Maestro closed-out number 20.  Chung was a wrecking ball as he beat Zverev, as well. Berdych, Federer’s QF foe smashed Del Potro in their 3R match. The point is there were guys in that draw, but Federer appears to have avoided the upset.

Nadal’s 2017 U.S. Open draw has been called one of the weakest major draws of all time, based on seedings. Look at his half of the quarter. Best case scenario would have been a Berdych, who had fallen of the face of the earth.

The other half of that quarter had these top seeds: Goffin at #9 and Dimitrov at #7. Rublev came out of that bracket to play Nadal in the QF. He did get a little test in the SF v Del Potro, but the Argentine was gassed from his Thiem come-from-behind R16 and his win over the ailing Federer in the QF. Of course, the final v Anderson was about as suspenseful as watching my dog take a shit.

All this to say, Nadal has another breezy draw here in the 2018 U.S. Open. I have heard several people say (mainstream media) that his R1 match v countryman Ferrer is a tough match-up. These people are lying or they’re slow in the head. Ferrer is retiring. He’ll give his king a nice hug after getting smashed. How in the world is David Ferrer a tough match-up for Nadal at this point? Because he can grind from the BL? Get the fuck out of here.

Khachanov in a 3R match could be good tennis, but Nadal shouldn’t be tested here really. He just beat him in Toronto, it’s Bo5, and Khachanov doesn’t seem a guy ready to take-on the establishment quite yet.

R16 is a joke. Best case scenario here is a rampant Edmund. Exactly. The rest of that bracket is extremely underwhelming. “Hey, but Jack Sock, seeded 18, is in there!” STFUP. Sock sucks now, probably just committing to doubles. The numbers, folks, can be, in effect, lies.

His QF is from the likes of Thiem or Anderson. In the context of Nadal in his present form, neither is much to write home about, especially with Thiem’s health.

Think about all of the other potential threats in the field.

Nadal’s quarter has what amounts to:

Gilles Muller
Karen Khachanov
Jack Sock
Kyle Edmund
Dominic Thiem
Kevin Anderson

That’s Nadal’s path to the SF. Get the fuck out of here.

The second quarter has this ensemble cast:

Del Potro
Andy Murray
Verdasco/Feli Lopez
Borna Coric
Stef Tsitsipas
John Isner
Milos Raonic
Stan Wawrinka
Grigor Dimitrov

The third quarter goes like this:

Marin Cilic
David Goffin
Gael Monfils
Kei Nishikori
Sascha Zverev

and several lower-tier fellas like Tiafoe, Haase, Mannarino, and Schwartzman.

Not the toughest quarter on paper, but the players in there can certainly do some damage.

The infamous fourth quarter, hence:

Novak Djokovic
Fabio Fognini
Hyeon Chung
Nick Kyrgios
Roger Federer

The Nadal quarter is a joke.

The Del Potro quarter is loaded.

The Zverev quarter is thin but dangerous.

The Federer quarter is a monster.

Nadal survives his quarter with all kinds of energy to spare in this endurance event.

Del Potro probably does not survive. Too many potentials in there. As I said back in Toronto, Stan is starting to peak at the right time. But he has a Dimitrov in R1? WTF. Stan should survive that and still be a force in that quarter, hopefully finding his pal Nadal in the SF. Del Potro finding 2009 potency may be an impossibility at this point, has been since the career-saving surgeries. Del Potro has Murray in the 3R. Brutal quarter.

Zverev’s quarter probably comes down to the two top seeds there, if Lendl has enough pull with the major-challenged German. Can Nishikori or Goffin break-up the Cilic v Zverev QF? Zverev v Nishikori in R16 might help us answer that question (Monfils is lurking in there, as well).

The last quarter is a monster. Kyrgios is the biggest douche-bag on tour but can beat anyone. He’s most dangerous when he’s the underdog. No doubt.

Federer has Kyrgios in the 3R. Think about that. This is haunted. Federer will be under all kinds of pressure then and there. Then it’s potentially Chung or Fognini, if he survives the Aussie’s huge game.

If Djokovic does not make the QF, we have a massive upset and the draw goes wide-open.

Without really spelling this out, the Federer/Kyrgios/Djokovic quarter has the most fire-power of any of the quarters, especially if Federer and Kyrgios are playing well.

As I said in my previous post, all you really need to know is

SF #1 Nadal v Del Potro/Wawrinka/or 1-2 others in that bracket.

SF #2 Djokovic (Federer/Kyrgios outside shot) v Cilic or (seems a stretch but his draw looks good and Lendl might be that fear factor he needs) Zverev.

How this isn’t Nadal v Djokovic I really have no idea.

I actually think a couple of Swiss former champs might be the only possible factors to prevent another Rafa v Nole war from happening.

27 thoughts on “Thoughts on the USO Draw

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Not that I need to complain, but for many of those big or potentially big guys maybe the most important question is, how well they will play every match.
    Assuming all the important characters will play well, Thiem or Anderson beating Rafa would not be an upset. Both have (very different) weapons to do that. If top form Thiem can beat Rafa on fast clay in Madrid, why not on hard? Rafa is vulnerable to good serving and returning plus hard hitting players on every surface. What he can always use to overcome them, is his incomparable winning ability. The same with Anderson. So not really a joke (again – if all involved guys play well).
    In Delpo quarter Murray, Lopez and Raonic are only names. Stan is potentially the only threat for Delpo. And it’s Grigor or Stan long before Delpo. Coric or Tsitsipas. Isner or Stan/Grigor. So only loaded with names, not with threates to Delpo.
    Who9 is the “leader” in third quarter? I think, it’s Cilic. Do let’s see, what are his threats. It’s Goffin or Zverev. IMO Cilic takes anyone of them, with Lendl or without.
    Quarter 4. not really such a monster. Nominal leader here is Federer but for me it’s rather Djoker. Neither Kyrgios or Federer are real threats for Djoker. Probably Fed falls to Nick quite easily and Nick falls to Djoker with the same ease.


    1. Thiem or Anderson beating Nadal would be an upset. I think Nadal’s HC tennis stinks, but he does well on the slower HC (which is what has happened in NYC) and with Bo5, his “winning attitude” as you say, he shouldn’t lose to an out of shape Thiem and a one-dimensional Anderson with no mental edge at all.

      Del Potro is not as dangerous as it sounds. Talk about a name. He’s too stiff, the BH too vulnerable.
      If he gets Murray in the 3R, that could be tough. And those “names” in there have games (Coric, Tsitsipas . . . they’re not weak competition).

      Kyrgios is a disaster, but we all know his potential. He may lose the first match, but as an underdog, big stage, who knows with that lunatic.

      And Cilic does not strike me as a shoe-in, though he’s probably the favorite in that quarter.


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Right, Anderson is one-dimensional, but this one dimension is an advantage on hard courts.
    Out-of-shape Thiem can lose first round to anyone. But how do you know, he is out-of.shape? Remember his match against Tsitsipas in Toronto? He had then still a shoulder injury and first of all the virus. He was not out of shape. He was out of health and fitness. I can hardly believe Bresnik, Thiem is now in an excellent form, but if his health problems are gone, he has the game for a deep run in NYC.
    All other things are 50:50. We will know first after matches are finished. Who did play his best. Who had potential but missed mood. Who was in a low.
    On the one hand we have not many, having ability to win big tournaments even if not everything goes easy. They are 3 now. On the other hand we have still lot of players ready for an upset. Or for playing their best (while not expected).


    1. Here’s the simple breakdown of the quarters.

      Nadal is the only likely finals candidate in his entire half.

      Federer and Djokovic, the other likely candidates, are in the same quarter. Statistically/mathematically, the winner will be one of those three. Let’s take Federer out if we have to, then Djokovic got screwed.

      Stan, for me, is the likely darkhorse. Cilic is too awkward, Del Potro too limited and, well, that about does it.

      Ha ha.


  3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Well, statistically/mathematically there must be some upsets. You seem not to take them into account. Look into earlier stages of the draw, where are potential upsets.
    Yes, we should take Federer out. He is not in a good form and first candidate among top seeds to be upset.
    Stan has the game to come deep all the time. But he is not yet ready for the effort to win 6-7 5-setters. He will do better than last tournaments but it’s not enough to win a slam. If we take Stan as a contender and he survives Dimitrov (not a cake walk if Dimitrov is in good shape and he knows how to play Stan to make him run more than he can), he would then have an easy path but there are likes of Raonic and Isner close to him. And it’s again about how well everyone plays. Big servers in good serve are almost not to break and then it comes to TB’s. Not very probable to win against them 3 TB’s in a row, so it must be 4 or 5 sets. First against Raonic, then against Isner. Too much for Stan, who has shots and concepts but his legs still far from 100%.
    All those guys plus Khachanov, Thiem Anderson (not very likely bot not impossible), Shapovalov, Nadal and Stan ar lucky to not have early Sandgren or Cecchinato or someone similar, we don’t know about so far in their half.
    In the final Nadal can lose only to Djokovic. But Nadal may be vulnerable at earlier stages Federer too. Not Djokovic.
    Dark horses are good for betting services but do you recall a dark horse to win a slam. Maybe long timw ego. Before Big3/4 era. Yeah Guga was once a dark horse but nobody has called him DH before he won the crown. Names of dark horse/s we will know only after the final.
    Thiem was a kind of dark horse in Paris, but not coming from nowhere. Thiem was under the radar in Paris. He didn’t play well before Paris. After he reached the final, all wise of the world were only talking about Thiem not playing for a win but for a possibly not bad loss. Too easy.
    I have noticed Stan as your dark horse. Let’s see, how dark he will be – horse in any case, STAN THE HORSE 😉


  4. You just, more or less, made my argument for me.

    Look at the last ten years or so — the winner will be one of the big three.


    IF there is a dark horse, it’s Stan. Not only his is form promising, he’s actually beaten Nadal and Djokovic in major finals.

    Del Potro’s win was a million years ago. Cilic found lightening in a bottle. I’ve written quite a bit about that one.


  5. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Right, Matt, but somehow these three are no more the same. Well, others are not the same too. Some where 10 years ago in kindergarten or elementary school 😉
    Not sure if your nice quote “the more things change the more they stay the same” (Alphonse Karr) holds in sports. Some, but for limited time. Maybe you know the answer to the question “what’s football?” (I mean soccer) and the answer is “a game, in which 22 guys run here and there over 90 minutes” but at the end always Germans win”. So maybe 10 years of Big3 in this respect is coming to an end? To be DH in a slam, Stan must learn from the older compatriot how to keep points short. If not, impossible his knee hols for 7 matches Bo5. Stan was always capable of going for long matches, but not now. If it was with Delpo million years ago, maybe time to repeat (for statistical/mathematical reasons only)? Lightning in a bottle – maybe some Leyden jars still exist? And are not patented by/for Cilic? BTW – my conspiracy theory is, it was not a lightning, but rather some PED. Cilic was never more able to serve Ivanisevic-like and he would break his backbone when trying. Cilic was never so flexible as Goran.
    Back to Stan – he beat Nadal and Djokovic in major finals but never Fed. If there is some logic in stats/math, he should beat Fed this time. But we rather agree, Fed does not reach the final. I’m still looking for upsets. Say Thiem beats Nadal in QF. And Sandgren beats Djokovic. Paire beats Fed. This would open the field for Stan 😉


  6. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    BTW – 10 years or so. You was too lazy (me too for the first sight) to look for a source 😉
    2009 – Del Potro, ha, ha …
    2012 – Murray
    2014 – Cilic
    All dark horses?


    1. Maybe you, not me. You’re missing the point here. “Mathematically” means chances are, probably more now than ever, that the big 3 probably wins this. That did not suggest they have won every single one. Come on.

      I made reference to all of those already.

      You’re being lazy.


  7. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    OK, Matt, I give up 😉 I’m lazy in learning English. But I’m trying hard. I fail. I’m trying harder. I fail better, ha, ha, ha …
    Your wildlife habitat – how wild is it? You may know from my blog, I’m living in a wildness, well … kind of. Real wildness does not exist anymore. Even on Himalaya or Sahara you are never alone.
    I thought, you sit in New York as almost every one and now live on Flushing Meadow grounds. Which is a wildlife too, I guess, but in some other sense.
    I like Thiem, skipping all these hype and training in Big Mac hermitage, called by some Alcatraz 😉
    And … “Look at the last ten years or so — the winner will be one of the big three.” – what I have misunderstood? “Or so”? 😉
    And of course I’m lazy because of speaking with you instead of doing my real life’s job. Good luck from Polish to American WILD 🙂


  8. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Your c´black horse dies today. Grigor can take the match into 4 or 5 sets and this will be too much for Stan. Period. No upset. Stan’s best achievement this year was to lose to poorly playing Fed, while leading 1:0 and losing second set’s TB with 3 UE’s. Stan, but not the Man.


  9. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Just found an interview with AllMyGold. That’s, what he says about Lendl hire “He knows how to make the best players even better. This is why I took him.” OK, you are the best but needs to be better to reach QF in a slam. Who can teach how to win slams in 2 weeks? If Lendl can, I guess, he has a long queue at his office.
    No, the truth is, Sascha does not understand the difference between Bo3 and Bo5. Having so much success and so high ranking only based on Bo3, he believes, it’s only some mystery and Lendl has it in his pocket. Sascha is a big boy and has big ego. What he misses, are skills. He wants to go Federer’s way, but his way is rather Delpo’s and this is longer way, less success, maybe more injuries. Instead of hiring Lendl, I would recommend him to go over the list of slam winners and no 1. in the ranking. The tallest from them was Marat Safin, spending some weeks as no. 1 and winning 2 slams. Not a good news for Sascha. This terrain belongs to classic 180-190 cm tall ones.


  10. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Did you see today’s Fed’s practice? I did and for some time was not sure, which one is Fed. Looking tired, bad movement, short shots. Did not look well The partner was some lefty, cannot guess who, maybe a professional hitting partner.


    1. Saw him practice with Stan. The FH is a problem, glaring.

      Will b interesting to see how Sascha does. I agree with your observations of this guy — you’ve a nice bit of insight on his deeper mental flaws.

      I will hopefully write some deeper analysis of the tournament tonight — what the tournament means to certain players, especially the big 3.


      1. Veronica Lee

        Obvious. Stiff. Not moving properly. Not in form (spraying fh/bh) is very different from a stiff back. Typical Fed, stiff lip about his back (injury). Look at his history with his own injuries; how much/late he reveals his injuries. Not making excuses at all. As I said, observe closely. Out of form is different from impaired movement. Other tell tale signs. – cancelled his practice today, didn’t join in kids’ day, (not that he has to but he loves that event). I’m sticking to my keen observation. Watch him. Djoker to win the whole thing. Love your blog btw. The best blog out there in terms of the most intelligent and accurate tennis observations, zero fangirling. You put so called tennis experts to same, including Brad, McEnroes, Annacone. You are tennis extraordinaire, if I had my way I will put in hall of fame😉I will eat crow if Fed is not injured😉


      2. Veronica, gee thanks for the kind words. You remind me of an old reader of this blog.

        Fed has looked pretty bad. Tough to diagnose when he’s 800 years old.


    1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

      I didn’t hear anything official but had the same impression. I remember times, when Fed had bad back and it looks like this. Maybe he had before in Cincy. Not a good omen for him.


  11. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Yeah – I don’t drink any alcohol, but can accept a “symbolic beer” and you will drink it for me 😉 If Grigor is good enough to beat Stan, he can go deep and maybe challenge Thiem in finals 😉 (I have some secret scenario with Thiem reaching final, ha, ha …)
    BTW – Lendl visited yesterday Thiem’s practice. Looking for dark horses or for next (more promising) job?


    1. Can you imagine how good it would be if a younger player won this tournament? Tough for a lot of people probably but good for the sport if someone could shock the world.


  12. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    I agree 100% with Veronica. Stiff back, limiting the movement, hitting from bad positions and short balls. Looking like he would rather like to do anything else. Of course not-in-form looks differently. I thing, the back issue was visible also in Cincy.
    And first of all, NOT WALKING HIS VERY SPECIFIC WAY (he is a forefoot runner/walker) , What’s a bit weird, Fed declared shortly to the press to be completely healthy for the first time since 2015? Something happened during the training? I didn’t see all his practices in NYC.
    Matt, Your beer remains yours 🙂 Ther match was not very good and Grigor was a garbage. So rather Grigor lost than Stan won. Does not clarify things about Stan’s prospects.


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