Monday, August 30, 2010

US Open -preview

US Open Men’s Preview

Andy Murray, Scotland

• Killer double-handed back-hand. Best in the game right now
• Beat Federer and Nadal en route to winning the recently concluded ATP tournament at Montreal.
• Youngest among the quartet (Rafa, Del Po, Djokovic and himself), so there is a sense of less pressure on him. He is just about at the right age to start winning slams, he is young but has enough experience.
• In the form of his life. The way he beat Federer (in straight sets) in the Montreal Masters was astounding.
• Playing on hard-courts, that’s his favorite surface. He likes hard-courts more than grass surprisingly.
• Does not need to rely on his serve. His all-round game is not based around his service. Even if he is serving bad, he can make for it

• Never won a Grand Slam before. Came twice in the final against Federer in US Open 2008 and Aus Open 2010 and lost in straight sets
• British media, British History, expectations. The last decent British player, Tim Henman was so hyped by the media that he could not handle it. They named a ‘Henman Hill’, kept on reminding him when the last British player won a major and how he has a chance to make history. The stupid British media will not shut up and Murray will have to live with it.
• Bad first-serve percentage. Even in the win over Federer in the Montreal masters, he was serving something like 55% on his first serves.

Rafa Nadal, Spain

• Ability to grind down opponents,
• Tremendous mental strength,
• Chasing down every ball without giving up,
• Heavy top-spin from his specially designed Babalot racquet are some obvious strengths of Nadal.

• Does not like hard-courts. His technique is not as smooth as Federer and thus he exerts lot of pressure on his knees and ankles. Hard-courts can be very unforgiving on those joints making him injury-prone on this surface. This very thought (of getting injured) would mean he may not come out with his A-game.
• Reducing “lefty factor”. When he burst onto the scene, immortals like Federer did not know how to handle the heavy top-spin from the left handed-forehand onto their back-hand, especially on clay courts.
• Never won the US Open before. Has won all the other slams, including the Aus Open.

Roger Federer, Switzerland
• Been there, done it before, five times at the US Open and sixteen times otherwise
• Huge hit. He is always the crowd favorite wherever he goes. Federer’s opponents will have to live with that
• Change of style. As evident from the Montreal Masters and the Cincinnati open, Federer has started using chip n charge more often than he used to. With awesome hands at the net, he could be a handful.

• Weak back-hand. As awesome and elegant it looks, there is no doubt that his back-hand is his weakness.
• Weak back-hand means he also has a weak return of serve when compared to the other top players.
• At 29, you get a feeling that he has achieved so much that there might a sense of , dare I say, complacency and lack of hunger as compared to say a Murray or a Nadal.

Roddick, USA
• Awesome serve. Best serve in the Men’s circuit. A-Rod needs to forget about first serve percentages and go flat-out. If he goes flat-out and gets 60% first serves in, that is better than him going conservatively and getting 70 -75 % first serves.
• Home ground, home support.
• Been there done it before. Not often can you say that about A-Rod, but the US Open 2003 is the only slam he has won in his career so far.
• Reducing expectations. There were such high expectations immediately after he won the US Open 2003, that one gets the feeling it got to him. Now, no one expects him to win the US. Can he do a Goran’01?
• Over-reliance on serve. If he does not serve well, he is in hot-water.
• Conservative shot-making. Built like and ox, some of his shots are put-it-back-into-play shots. Needs to go for broke more often.
• Inexplicable losses of concentration, leading to loss of confidence. His loss to Mardy Fish at Cincinnati was unbelievable. He was up 5-2 in the second set and all-over Fish. Lost concentration and the set. Lost confidence and the match. (losing the final set 6-1)

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