Examining The Top 10 Draws for the US Open

by TennisPig on August 31, 2015

1. Djokovic
Nothing looks overly daunting for the World #1 in the early stages of his quarter of the draw. He opens against Joao Souza. A second rounder likely sees him against Vasek Pospisil who has Haider-Maurer in R1. Andreas Seppi is the seeded player (25) to meet Djokovic in the third, but it could be someone like Temuraz Gabashvili. The Russian has a winnable match with Pablo Andujar to start and could get past Seppi or Tommy Paul. Gabashvili possesses that all or nothing game that is problematic when it all hits. Just ask Andy Murray from back in Washington, D.C. earlier this summer. Likely though in a best of five, there would be more nothing. The fourth round is seeded to see #14 David Goffin. Bautista-Agut and Jerzy Janowicz are also in that part of the quarter. Goffin took a set from Djokovic in Cincinnati and had him down a break in the third set, so he won’t be lacking confidence. That is also the type of match though where Djokovic likes to get locked in and destroy someone, although his “RoboNole” moments have been less frequent on hard courts this summer.

The bottom half of the quarter that would see his quarterfinal opponent has seeds Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic Feliciano Lopez and Fabio Fognini. Djokovic will feel good about all the names on that list. Nadal is still well off from his best form, especially on hard courts. Raonic is lacking match prep coming back from his foot surgery and has not looked ready for the physical tests a best of five will bring. Realistically, outside of Goffin it would take an incredible upset to remove Djokovic from the picture any time before the semifinals. He should make it nine straight years of at least making the semis in New York with this path.

2. Federer
The Swiss maestro comes to the U.S. Open in fine form after another Cincinnati Masters title. While the conditions will not be as quick here, the draw is conducive to Federer once again being around at the business end of a Slam. He opens against Leonardo Mayer. This won’t be a simple match for Federer as he found out in Shanghai last year when Mayer nearly beat him in a third set tie break. Mayer has a sneaky good serve when he finds the consistency, but that’s likely to come and go too much in a best of five to trouble Federer in the end. Don’t be surprised if the sets are very close though. A win puts Fed into R2 against Baghdatis or Darcis. Darcis is injured and Baghdatis had a tough time reading the serve of Hugues-Herbert in Winston-Salem. Advantage Federer. Round three looks likely to be 29th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber or perhaps a shock from the winner of Lukas Rosol and young American Jared Donaldson. Kohlschreiber gave Fed a run at his home tournament in Halle, Germany on grass. Federer won a third set tie break to take that one and it happened to be win nine against no losses versus the German. Kohlschreiber might have the best shot at taking a set of this group, but Federer should work through to the fourth where he’s likely to see one of the two heavy servers in 13th seed John Isner or 21st seed Ivo Karlovic.In 19 career meetings that Isner and Karlovic have had between them against Federer, they hold just two wins.

The quarterfinal slot opposite of Federer is seeded for either #6 Tomas Berdych or #12 Richard Gasquet. Gasquet has the tougher road with Thanasi Kokkinakis to open and then Robin Haase or Dustin Brown. Aussies Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt might have something to say to Gasquet in the third round before any possibility of a Berdych showdown. Berdych looked awful in a couple of losses this summer to Donald Young and Alexandr Dolgopolov during the Montreal/Cincinnati Masters swings. His pedigree has been decent in New York, more on that when we visit the #6 slot. Berdych is 0-2 against Fed in 2015. Gasquet is 2-12 vs. Federer overall. This will be a draw that tests Federer’s ability to play tight sets where tie breaks may decide things. That should be good practice for the latter rounds. Federer should have enough to make it back-to-back trips to the U.S. Open semis and three times in the last five years. He’ll hope to break his streak of not having won the title since 2008.

3. Murray
Everyone has already poured over the first round match-up against lightning rod Nick Kyrgios. We can debate the validity of the “random” aspect of the draw, but it is clear that Murray shouldn’t mind this match-up. He has beaten Kyrgios three times, including twice this year at Slams at the Australian and French Opens without dropping a set. Given Murray’s form this summer and Kyrgios’ lack thereof, Murray should prevail again. His draw eases from there with Adrian Mannarino or Konstantin Kravchuk in R2. Round three is seeded to see #30 Thomaz Bellucci against Murray. The fourth round should seeds hold would see 15th seed Kevin Anderson or 20th seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem had the nice run here last year to the fourth round and Anderson has rediscovered some form in Winston-Salem, but neither is going to keep Andy from sleeping at night. Thiem has taken a set off him in two career losses, but never faced him in a best of five. Murray is 5-1 vs. Anderson, including two wins this season for the Scot/Brit.

The quarterfinal round is where things could get interesting for Murray as #5 Stan Wawrinka is the seed opposite him in this quarter. Wawrinka’s mental state is or is not a concern depending on who you ask. He’s been riding the “distraction” card from the Nick Kyrgios “sledge” incident this summer, but let’s be honest, Stan has shown a blatant lack of giving two farts about non-Slams the last few years. 11th seed Gilles Simon, 22nd seed Viktor Troicki and 28th seed Jack Sock are in that part of the quarter too. The only serious contender to Murray not being in the semis will be Wawrinka. They have met at the U.S. Open three times in their 14 career meetings with Wawrinka winning the last two times in 2013 and 2010. The 2013 meeting being the last time they played against one another. Semifinals are certainly possible, but I’m going for Murray stopped a step short in the quarters.

4. Nishikori
Nishikori comes to the Open with an injury question again. Last year, there was no telling what shape he was in with the cyst removal from his foot. This year, there is at least some semblance of form prior to Nishikori succumbing to fatigue and a hip issue after losing to Andy Murray in Montreal. Nishikori erred on the side of precaution by skipping Cincinnati, so the two full weeks off should have helped. He will open against Benoit Paire. He is 2-0 against the Frenchman, including a win at a Grand Slam. He beat him in four sets in 2013 at the French Open. That was their last meeting. Paire is mercurial as ever, but hard courts don’t suit him that well. He is 39-49 in main draws on the surface in his career. Expect him to stick with Nishikori maybe for a bit as the fourth seed works his way into the match, but in the end Nishikori is more consistent with a better variety.

Round two should provide an easier time with Radek Stepanek or Marsel Ilhan. That should move Nishikori to the third round where Tommy Robredo is seeded to meet him as the 26th seed. You may see Alexandr Dolgopolov there instead. He has to get past Sam Groth to open, but has that hot and cold faucet that could find him taking on Nishikori in the third. Dog has only made the fourth round once before and Nishikori owns a 3-0 mark against him with all the wins coming on hard courts. Survival through three rounds could yield a marquee match-up against either of two Frenchman; 19th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or 16th seed Gael Monfils. That looks a very probable shot with both having decent R1 and R2 draws before a potential All-French showdown in the third. Tsonga is 5-2 against Monfils, but Gael won their most recent meeting in Miami this spring. Either one poses a real threat with Tsonga having beaten Nishikori at Roland Garros this year in five sets. Monfils lost their only match-up last year on grass in three sets.

If Nishikori gets past that landmine, the “random” draw could pit him in a rematch against last year’s Champion Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. Cilic is seeded 9th as the top seed in the other half of this quarter that also has #7 David Ferrer, #17 Grigor Dimitrov and #27 Jeremy Chardy. A return with Cilic might be easier than a match against Tsonga or Monfils. Nishikori beat Cilic earlier in the summer in D.C., wearing him down in three sets. There’s too much in this quarter for me to see Nishikori getting through. He could get to the quarters, but I think the fourth round against one of the Frenchman may do him in.

5. Wawrinka
It’s time for Wawrinka to drop the “woe is me” act from the Kyrgios’ incident. That was a long time ago in a Galaxy north of the border. It seemed a bit of a convenient excuse for any losses this summer, but that’s not going to wash at the U.S. Open. It will still be the talk because the media is the media after all. For the Stanimal though, this should be his chance to exercise some demons on the court. He has shown that he will effort hard in Slams. That is what I expect. The first two rounds should be innocuous enough with Albert Vinolas-Ramos to start with and then either Hyeon Chung or James Duckworth. The third round is seeded to see Wawrinka against Jack Sock. It could be Gilles Muller who is also in that part of the draw. Both scenarios should see the consistency from the ground equalling a win for the Swiss.

To the fourth round, Stan should see another good match-up. The seeds in that part of the quarter include #11 Gilles Simon and #22 Viktor Troicki. Simon could test Stan’s resolve, having beaten him twice in six meetings. Stan owns both Grand Slam wins, the French Open in 2015 and 2012. Ernests Gulbis could figure into this picture too depending on his mood and effort. In all cases, Stan’s recent Slam pedigree looks the best to survive and advance. I touched on a potential quarterfinal match-up against Andy Murray above. Wawrinka owns two wins over Murray at the U.S. Open and that will definitely have a big match feel to it. Wawrinka won those two clashes before he became a Grand Slam Champion, so I think his belief is higher this time than it was before. I can envision a semifinal showing for the Stanimal if the distraction is past him.

6. Berdych
The Czech gets glossed over some in the talk of outsiders who can step in and snatch a Grand Slam from just outside the top tier of Djokovic, Federer and Murray. That may have some to do with Berdych’s propensity for seemingly being a bridesmaid and never a bride. He toils near the prize, but never reaches it. This year, he has been consistent. He made the semis in Australia and then the fourth round both at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Berdych has been good here the last three years, making the semis, fourth round and quarterfinals most recently in 2014. Round one should be simple against inexperienced American Bjorn Fratangelo. The second round might see a stiffer test in the form of Denis Kudla or qualifier Jurgen Melzer. Kudla has cooled considerably since his semifinal showing in Atlanta and Melzer is a step slower at age 34. Kudla could potentially push Berdych a bit if he finds his best form, but that form has been missing for over a month.

The third round would see Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Janko Tipsarevic, Sam Querrey or Nicolas Mahut waiting. Querrey is the only name there who might stick with Berdych for a bit. Still, five out of six career match-ups say Berdych is better. The fourth round is seeded to see #12 Richard Gasquet waiting, but he has a tough road to get there with Kokkinakis in R1 and #24 Bernard Tomic possibly in R3. If it’s Gasquet, Berdych has had his number lately with three straight wins over the Frenchman to even their career meetings at 6-6. Berdych should be in the hunt for a quarterfinal spot that may land him against Roger Federer. That would likely be the end of the run in another good, but not spectacular Slam for Berdych.

7. Ferrer
The Spaniard is definitely one of the largest question marks heading into the tournament. His elbow tendinitis is an unknown bother at this point. It was troublesome enough to keep him from playing Wimbledon and all the hard court prep for the U.S. Open. His opening round match normally would be a slam dunk against Radu Albot who is more of a Challenger type. With the elbow untested, even that match could be tricky until Ferrer proves his health. If he advances, the second round sees him against Filip Krajinovic or qualifier Alejandro Gonzalez. Gonzalez lost in straight sets to Ferrer last year at the Australian Open, but that was a different version of both. Gonzalez beat Fognini at this year’s Australian Open and Dmitry Tursunov at the U.S. Open in 2014, so he has shown he can take advantage of an opponent at less than full motivation and fitness. Should Ferrer pass the first two rounds, the third could see him against Jeremy Chardy or the winner or Martin Klizan-Florian Mayer. Ferrer is 7-1 vs. Chardy, 1-0 against Klizan and 5-2 vs. Mayer. All good numbers, but all dated meetings that will not mean a ton this year. A healthy Ferrer can win here though.

The fourth round is the farthest I can see Ferrer making it with either 17th seed Dimitrov or 9th seed Cilic to be in his way. As much as I love watching Ferrer grind, I think asking him to rise up after a lengthy time on the shelf could be a bit much as the matches progress. That being said, both Dimitrov and Cilic have not been in top form and won’t be expecting anything to come easy if they can win. For me, a healthy Ferrer makes the fourth round. If his elbow is any issue at all, I think an earlier exit is more likely. Let’s say third round.

8. Nadal
Rafael Nadal may be the most fascinating seed to watch the next two weeks in New York. Nadal has shaken off a shoulder concern from Hamburg with decent play in Montreal and Cincinnati. It really seems as though his progress or lack of it this tournament depends on his mental state. Rafa always talks a calm game and seems in a good space ahead of the start of the season’s final Grand Slam, but he will need to back that up with his on-court play. All eyes will be on 18-year old Borna Coric when these two battles in round one. I touched on what to expect in that match with Rafa as a possible upset candidate in R1. I think publicly, it will be a fashionable pick for many to think the youngster rises up and wins. But, I think it’s a shade short sighted to do so based on last year’s win alone in Basel for Coric over Nadal. Rafa was far less than 100 percent and his mental state was very poor after a rough stretch.

That being said, Nadal can expect a test to open and will need to be consistent to beat Coric. I think this will be a matter of great pride for Nadal and I expect him to pull out the win after some nervy moments. He could get another young stud in Elias Ymer in the second round. The qualifier faces Diego Schwartzman in the opening round. A win there could see Rafa against any of the following; 32nd seed Fabio Fognini, Steve Johnson, Pablo Cuevas or Dudi Sela. I’d expect that the winner of Fognini-Johnson is most likely to be that opponent. Fognin might seem unlikely, but Johnson has had a tough time posting wins at the USO. He has lost his first round match three of four times he has played in the main draw. Given how well Fognini has played against Rafa in their last three meetings, two of which were won by the Italian, that would be an intriguing match to say the least.

The fourth round would provide another interesting sight for Nadal with seeds Milos Raonic and Feliciano Lopez possible to be there. He could also see a friendly face in Fernando Verdasco who plays Tommy Haas in round one. A healthy and in-form Raonic would be very tough on Nadal, but that version of the Canadian isn’t likely to be there unless he flips a switch in New York. Lopez would be a stern test as well after beating Rafa in Cincinnati earlier this month. A win there would get Rafa to the quarters where Djokovic and the end of his stay in New York would come. Just Rafa being the current version of Rafa, I’ll go fourth round out for him. There are some tough customers in his part of the quarter who won’t be intimidated. A quarterfinal though should not be out of the question.

9. Cilic
This is a massive tournament for Marin Cilic. The defending Champ still has plenty to prove as his career really has stalled somewhat following his shocking win here last year. Injury robbed him of the start of the season and the Australian Open. Upon return, it took him months to recapture some good form. He has shown decently in both Slams he has played this year, making the fourth round at the French Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Since the grass season ended though, Cilic has looked a bit out of sorts on hard courts. He started well enough at the Citi Open with a semifinal showing, but since Kei Nishikori dismantled him in the last two sets of their three setter, he has gone 1-2 with losses to Tomic and Gasquet.

He gets qualifier Guido Pella to open his defense of the title and that should allow for a relatively smooth start. His second round opponent will be Loucas Pouille or qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. Donskoy enjoys hard courts, but has had trouble parlaying Challenger success on the surface to the ATP level. He wins about 66 percent of his Challenger matches on hard courts, but is just 16-28 on the main tour. He is 5-6 at Grand Slams and the hard court slams have treated him the best with four of those five wins split between the Australian and U.S. Opens in 2013. Donskoy poses the more troubling second round match for Cilic. A win that gets him into the third round could find 17th seeded Grigor Dimitrov. They have met just once with Cilic winning in Brisbane back in 2014 7-5, 7-5. Dimitrov seems about one and a half steps from grabbing that big win to get him on track. He absolutely choked against Andy Murray in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see if that has any lingering effects.

Should Cilic survive to the fourth round, a quarterfinal trip should await him with the bottom part of his half of the quarter up for grabs due to the injury status of Ferrer and lack of results for Dimitrov.

10. Raonic
The Canadian will start the Open against American Tim Smyczek. While some may theorize that he can push Raonic the same way he did Nadal at the Australian Open, that seems far fetched. Raonic’s power will not be a good match for Smyczek, but Raonic will need to prove that his fitness is good enough for a best of five scenario. The serve alone should help Raonic start well and unless something flares up with the foot, expect him to advance. The second round could be more daunting with the winner of Verdasco-Haas awaiting. I have a hard time believing Haas can come up with enough consistency to win a best of five based on what we have seen from him this summer.

Verdasco is 3-3 against Raonic, all three losses have come on hard surfaces. The lefty has made life tough on Milos though, winning at least a set off of him in five of their six meetings. Survival through two rounds could see him playing 18th seed Feliciano Lopez, but Lopez has to get past Nicoloz Basilashvili who upset him at Wimbledon. The qualifier isn’t without a chance for another upset. Mardy Fish is also in this section and with a winnable first round match and massive crowd support likely, don’t be totally shocked if he’s there waiting in R3.

Should Raonic manage to weave his way to the fourth round, I do fancy his chances of taking it a step farther with Nadal, Fognini or Steve Johnson among the mix that could be waiting. Nadal might have the confidence at that point to be a major pain, but Raonic’s game matches well against all of those potential players. That being said, I am not sold on Milos being primed for a run due to his lack of match play coming back from injury. Raonic lost in straight sets to Ivo Karlovic and Feliciano Lopez in his only two matches since Wimbledon. They were close, but he did not look all that solid overall. I’m looking at Raonic being gone in the third round.

Futures Watch

If you have the option, betting on players to win their quarters can be a bit more fruitful than trying to hit a home run with the correct winner at Grand Slams. Of course the big thing is you have to identify a quarter where the top seed feasibly will not make it to the semis. For me, that is Kei Nishikori’s quarter.

You can tell by the prices that books consider this the quarter with the most upheaval possible with Nishikori listed at +160 to win the quarter. Andy Murray is the next lowest among the top four seeds, but he is at -155. There are many ways you can with playing this quarter. One that makes the most sense is going to the bottom of the draw opposite of Nishikori. David Ferrer is the lead seed, but has the injury question and has not played in nearly two months. As such, he is listed at +1600 to get out of this quarter. Defending Champion Marin Cilic is +400 to get out of this quarter, while Grigor Dimitrov is +600.

Dimitrov’s record at the U.S. Open makes me not want any part of him. In the midst of a poor season, can you really expect him to improve on his best finish here which was losing in the fourth round last year? Even though Cilic has been off his game this summer, I’d much rather take a stab at a guy who has at least made it to the quarters the last two years he has played in New York in 2014 and 2012. Taking Cilic would also allow you a favorable hedge option against Dimitrov if that is how it plays into the third round in this quarter.

Up top in Nishikori’s half, I still stick to my guns that one of the Frenchman, Tsonga or Monfils will have a legit shot to knock Nishikori out. Heck, there is a chance that someone might do it for one of them before a potential fourth round meeting. Tsonga is +800 to take the quarter and Monfils is +1000. The bad thing is they are seeded to play each other in the third round, so if you take both players you will obviously lose one in that spot. Monfils made the quarters last year and also did the trick in 2010. Tsonga made the quarters back in 2011 and lost in the fourth round to Andy Murray last year. This hasn’t always been his best Slam, but he is probably the slightly more trustworthy of the two when it comes to effort levels. Monfils of course loves the big stage. but his summer was lackluster in effort and the injury factor is always something to consider. I’d rather have Tsonga and you will likely have a decent line to hedge out if it’s Tsonga vs. Monfils in the third round if you choose.

Cilic to Win Quarter #2 @ 5.0 (+400)
Tsonga to Win Quarter #2 @ 9.0 (+800)

If you’re looking at the overall picture and the prices to win the U.S. Open outright, Djokovic is just too short for me at +123. The price to me that has a lot of value to look at is Wawrinka at +1675. There are certainly concerns that Wawrinka’s mindset might be off a shade with the whole Nick Kyrgios’ sledge incident, but I think Wawrinka will show up ready to go. He would have to go through Andy Murray likely to get the semifinals and then Roger Federer could be waiting there. It’s definitely a tough road and the price is justified on that, but given his Grand Slam history in the last two years and how well he has played in New York in that span, it might be worth your time to look at Wawrinka.

Wawrinka to Win U.S. Open @ 17.75 (+1675)

About The Author

has written 35 awesome posts on Betting on Tennis.

An avid follower of all things tennis and betting on it. You can follow his musings on twitter