The draw for the U.S. Open 2010 Grand Slam has been conducted. Top seed Rafael Nadal has been paired in the same half as Britain's Andy Murray whilst Roger Federer, the 2nd seed and five-time champion from 2004-2008, joins Novak Djokovic in the other half. That will be great news for Federer, who has struggled in recent times against Nadal and Murray but has basically owned Djokovic.
Potential Stumbling Blocks
Rafa Nadal has a pretty good section of the draw. He lies in the same quarter as Fernando Verdasco, though Verdasco is in wretched form coming in to the U.S. Open and I honestly don't see him reaching the quarter final stage. This is where my tip of the tournament comes in - David Nalbandian. He is the 31st seed. I think he could take care of Verdasco and then easily overcome Ferrer/Gulbis to set up a quarter final showdown with Nadal. Should Nadal manage to win, he is likely to face either Murray or Berdych in the semis. And that's where the first real threat to Murray's challenge will come from - the beast Tomas Berdych. As we saw at Wimbledon, he is capable of beating the very best players.
On the other side of the draw, Roger Federer is on a quarter final collision course with Robin Soderling, who beat him at that stage at the French Open earlier this year. Soderling is one of the most improved players on tour and Federer will have to be at the top of his game by that stage if he is to progress deeper through the draw. Novak Djokovic, the 3rd seed, seems to have a much trickier route to the latter stages with a potential 4th round tie against either Marcos Baghdatis or Mardy Fish (two of the form players from Cincinnati), followed by a possible quarter final with either Roddick or Davydenko. Should the Serb come through those testers, he is most likely to be met by the Swiss 16-time Grand Slam champion in the semis.
I really feel good about David Nalbandian. He went on a sensational 12-match winning streak through the hard court tournaments leading up to this event, and seems to be back to his best when he was in the world's top ten and challenging the best players in the world. I think he has a lovely section of the draw and could realistically get through to a tasty quarter final with Nadal. And if he can pull off a shock by claiming Nadal's scalp, he may just have the momentum and confidence to go on to the final.
The only other surprise I can see is Tomas Berdych. He should sail straight through to a quarter final with Murray. I'm sure he would have great incentive to beat the Scot as Nadal would likely be his opponent in the semis, where revenge for his Wimbledon final defeat would be on Big Tom's mind.
Roger Federer is in great form coming in to this one. I think the key for his success here will be how he returns serve. In the past he has had the irritating tendency to just slice his returns half way up the court, leaving his opponents an easy put-away, time and time again. If he can read serve well and get some good deep returns in, he has every chance of lifting the title again. I would put Federer in the final to play against either Berdych or Nalbandian. Yes, I think Nadal just hasn't got what it takes to win the U.S. Open, and Murray's serve is far too susceptible to break-down when the pressure is on, and boy can Berdych exert pressure!
So Federer to win with some sharp tennis and good returning.
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