US Open 2011: First Week Review and Second Week Preview

First Week Review

Compared to this year’s Australian and French Open, it’s been somewhat of a “slow” start to the tournament trading wise, but profitable nonetheless. This fact is also confirmed by the numbers, such as the total withdrawals, which have been at a record high. 17 in total to be exact.Things started to pick up in the last few days and besides the great quality matches to trade during the first few days (Ferrero vs Monfils, Young vs Wawrinka, Murray vs Haase which was  probably the most predictable comeback from 2 sets down) we had matches like Schiavone vs Pavlyuchenkova, Tsonga vs Fish and Wozniacki vs Kuznetsova. But let’s take a look at what we can take from this first week, both for the short and long term future.

The first thing to note in regard to the first week is some of the improvements that the young US players have made. Donald Young has been a player that was expected to mature and have results much earlier but for some reason it never happened. During the last few season it was a pattern of his to get the lead early on and start well, only to fall behind and lose the match in the end. It looked as if the same thing was about to happen in the first set against Chela, but in the end Young managed to close out the set and take the match in straight sets. Also it’s important to note that his first signs of improvements on the men’s tour were visible in 2008 where he played an excellent 5 set match against Blake and this season’s win against Murray in Indian Wells surely boosted his confidence.

Jack Sock is last year’s US Open junior champion and after passing the first round, he got to play against Andy Roddick in a night session on Arthur Ashe and managed to play a good match. Usually it takes for juniors quite a few season before they get accustomed on the men’s tour but in his case it could be a lot sooner and we’ll have to see how he progresses.

Unlike other players that played well at the US Open and other tournaments only to show their real value later on (e.g. Melanie Oudin),  McHale is a played to watch out for in the future. She has a good game and can play some good matches against top ranked players.She is currently ranked 55th place in the world and I expect the ranking to improve by next year’s US Open (provided that she stays injury-free).

Grigor Dimitrov, the young bulgarian talent, has been a player I have mentioned before. In the last couple of year’s, he has been over-valued in most matches he has played, and these over-evaluations had no real backing until this season when he has started to play more atp tour events and even played good matches against top ranked players. So slowly but surely the sign of this true capabilities are starting to show up. By the end of next season, I’m sure he will have a couple of good wins against big players (top 15 players), and I would watch out for that.

Nadal's Betfair Graphic for the US Open 2011 Winner Market
Nadal's Betfair Graphic for the US Open 2011 Winner Market - a little panic there due to cramping

On the men’s side of the draw, Novak had three easy matches while the other contenders to the title has problems in their opening rounds. Nadal had a first round encounter where he was broken in each set, and a third round match where he could have lost the first set and there also was the cramping incident afterwards which led to a slight spike in the odds. The other two contenders, Federer and Murray, both lost sets in the first week, which only steamed Djokovic’s odds even more, being at odds-on at one point. A similar trend to what we saw during this year’s French Open.

On the women’s side it has all been about Serena Williams. She is now down to 1.44 for winning the tournament and that about says it all.

Sharapova had a rather predictable exit against Penneta,  as her high risk game just didn’t do the job. But it’s that exact same high risk game that might just bring her other slams in the future. Other notable, first week exists from the womes’s draw are Na Li and Petra Kvitova. From these two players , I’d focus more on Kvitova as her early exit might have a negative impact on her ratings when it really shouldn’t and I expect her to continue in the same fashion as before, and I do see her winning a few more grand slams in the coming years.

Second Week Preview

I’m writing this preview on day 9, so a few matches have already been played in the second week.

Things are very much shaping up in the following way.

On the men’s side you have Djokovic vs Tsonga/Federer as a possible semi-final on one side and Murray vs Nadal as the other semi-final.

The most interesting match on the top half of the draw will be the match between Federer and Tsonga. The frenchman has now won two matches in a row against Federer and I see it hard for him to get 3 in a row. Tsonga was very dominant in the last two matches, but if the weather conditions are very much similar to the ones in the Fish match, I see Federer as having he upper hand. Tsonga is very much a player of small margins when playing against top players. I do expect that to change in the very near future and therefore taking his rightful place in the top 5 very soon.

In a possible Murray vs Nadal semi-final, the most important things is how much time do both players take in their QF matches, and how high will the first serve percentage be for Murray.

On the women’s draw I believe the winner will be from the top half of the draw. It will be very much about how the opponents of Serena Williams respond. I’m quite interested in how Pavlyuchenkova plays against her, as I do see the Russian as a future grand slam winner. Wozniacki also had a good match against Kuznetsova, but I have to say it again,  it’s hard to see how she can win against a good enough shot-maker. On the bottom half of the draw, the finalist will probably come from the Stosur v Zvonareva match, but will have to wait and see.

Other external factors as the weather have slightly changed the general perception on the tournament and we’ll have to see if further weather updates may have an impact on some of the important matches.


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