The U.S. Open tennis tournament is the second most prestigious tennis championship (behind only Wimbledon) on the competitive calendar. The year’s last major tennis event is renowned for the strength of its field and through the years, the plethora of unforgettable classic moments. The 2010 U.S. Open, headlined by Wimbledon men’s champion Rafael Nadal and defending women’s champion Kim Clijsters, is expected to stay true to the formula. In this article, I will preview the 2010 U.S. Open tennis tournament and offer picks & predictions.
1) 2010 U.S. Open Men’s Singles Draw
Prediction (updated): Nadal defeats Djokovic for his first U.S. Open championship.
World’s number-one player Rafael Nadal comes to this year’s U.S. Open with one goal in mind. He aims to complete a career grand slam by winning the one missing piece–a U.S. Open title. Unfortunately for the French Open champion, the task is a daunting one as winning on hard courts has always been a struggle for Nadal. The Spaniard has only reached one major final on hard courts and none at Flushing Meadows. Moreover, some of Nadal’s worst losses have taken place at the U.S Open including a straight-set defeat to last year’s champion Argentinean Del Potro.
It is apt to say that Nadal’s style of play does not fit the hard court very well. The top ranked player prefers slower surfaces, where his superb footwork and fitness are most optimized. Although it is true that Nadal has performed well at the All-England Club, this has more to do with the fact that the grass courts of Wimbledon are noticeably slower now than they were in the past than his improved play. Nadal’s success at the 2010 U.S. Open will depend largely on how fast the courts are, and who will be on his side of the draw. If he can steer clear of big servers like John Isner and Sam Querry, the Spaniard has a decent chance of winning the career grand slam.
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The 2010 U.S. Open is probably the first grand slam championship in which Roger Federer is not the top favorite to win the title. Federer has struggled quite a bit this season, with his ranking dropping one spot. Yet, the Swiss great remains the most dangerous player in the draw and is well-capable of beating anyone on any given surface. Also, Federer is just as good on hard courts as Nadal is on clay. In fact, Federer is the owner of the best record on hard courts including 5 U.S. Open titles and 4 Australian Open championships. As Federer’s game obviously suits the surface well, it would be a grave mistake to discount his chance at a sixth Open title.
The dark horse at this year’s US Open is Andy Murray. The Scotsman was so close to winning his first major championship in Melbourne, only to see his dream crushed by the unflappable Roger Federer. Still, his strong performance at the Australian Open underscores the fact that Murray’s best chance to win a grand slam is on a hard court. In point of fact, 13 of his 14 career titles have been on a hard court. Moreover, Murray has reached two major finals and both of them happen to be on this surface. With Federer struggling and Nadal having problems on hard courts, Murray has a great shot of pulling an upset or two en route to possibly win the tennis tournament. Other contenders include hard-hitting Robin Soderling and big server John Isner.
2) 2010 U.S. Open Women’s Singles Draw
Prediction: Kim Clijsters defends her title; Ivanovic and Sharapova play well.
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With world’s number-one Serena Williams sidelined due to a foot injury, defending champion Kim Clijsters is expected to be the top favorite to win the 2010 U.S. Open. The Belgian is known for her excellence on fast surfaces. Clijsters has won a total of two grand slam titles, and both of them happen to be on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows. Additionally, nearly all of her titles to date have been on this surface. The former top ranked player is enjoying a strong summer similar to the one from last year, and is playing some of her best tennis since coming back. Kim definitely has a good shot at defending her title.
The dark horse for the women’s title is former champion Maria Sharapova. The Russian has been enjoying terrific form, with dominant wins over several top players during the U.S. Open series. Sharapova seems to have fully recovered from her injuries, and is gaining confidence with each win. As she is one of very few players who could match the power of the Williams sisters, this automatically makes her a contender at fast-surface grand slams like the U.S Open. One should expect her to make a deep run at this tournament. Other contenders include a resurgent Ana Ivanovic and former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.