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U.S. Open 2008: Men’s Draw Predictions and Previews

Quarter One:

New world number one and gold medalist, Rafael Nadal, is seeded first in a major for the first time in his career. Rafa traditionally has had sub par results at Flushing Meadows, But Nadal 2008 is clearly different then ones of years past. Rafa’s main challenges should come from James Blake and David Nalbandian, but their form is always in question. Tomas Berdych could also do some damage with his big hitting game. Rafa could also face a fourth round test from Ivo Karlovic, which is never fun on such a fast surface. However, I just don’t see him losing this early.

Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal

Quarter Two

David Ferrer is the highest seed in this quarter at four, but his game is not well suited on the fast courts of New York. Sixth seed, Andy Murray should be the favorite for this section if he keeps his head together. Andy’s recent play shows signs of a breakthrough at a major. Don’t count out Stanislas Wawrinka or Mikhail Youzhny who have been playing consistently all year. The surface is perfect for Feliciano Lopez’s big game, who took a set off of Roger Federer here last year. Juan Martin del Potro comes in off of four straight titles and could make some noise if he continues his red hot play.

Semifinalist: Andy Murray

Quarter Three:

Last year’s finalist, Novak Djokovic, starts his U.S. Open campaign in the third quarter. Andy Roddick is the next highest seed, but I honestly see him losing in the second round to Ernest Gulbis due to his recent horrendous play. Marat Safin is also in this quarter, but who knows what we’ll see from Marat. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is scheduled to make his return to the tour after knee surgery,  but his form will be very questionable at best. This quarter should be Djokovic’s for the taking, if he doesn’t crash out like at Wimbledon.

Semifinalist: Novak Djokovic

Quarter Four:

Roger Federer is entering a major not seeded number one for the first time in almost five years. Fed is the four time defending champion, but he just hasn’t been himself all year. Lucky for him, he has a relatively easy quarter. Nikolay Davydenko is in this section, but has never been one to show up at majors. Richard Gasquet is in this section, but he is very streaky. Other than that, Roger doesn’t have much resistance for a semifinal berth.

Semifinalist: Roger Federer

Semifinals: Nadal def. Murray, Djokovic def. Federer

Final: Nadal def. Djokovic

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Filed under: Predictions/Previews, U.S. Open, , , , , , ,

U.S. Open 2008: Women’s Draw Predictions and Previews

The last grand slam of the year is set to start on Monday and the women’s champion is usually someone who has managed to stay relatively healthy through the year.

Quarter One:

The whole top half of this draw is loaded so whoever is going to come through is really gonna have to duke it out. Top seed, Ana Ivanovic, is in this quarter, but is still recovering from an ailing thumb. However, she did not play in Beijing so it just makes her that much fresher. Daniela Hantuchova, Amelie Mauresmo and Nadia Petrova could cause some damage, but you never know what you’re going to get with them. 17 seed, Alize Cornet, is always a tricky opponent. Dinara Safina rounds out the quarter and we’ll see if her meltdown in Beijing affects her play. I’m betting it does.

Semifinalist: Ana Ivanovic

Quarter Two:

This quarter houses both the Williams sisters and most likely they will meet in the quarterfinals. Nicole Vaidisova could make some noise if she somehow manages to find her form, but I wouldn’t count on it. Agniezska Radwanska is the potential fourth rounder for Venus and is probably has the best shot at stopping an all-Sister quarter. I still think Venus and Serena are going to fight it out for a place in the semis. I’d go with Serena, who’s bound to hungry for a major, her last win was at the Aussie Open in ’07.

Semifinalist: Serena Williams

Quarter Three

This quarter is home to three Russian head cases, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva and Anna Chakvetadze. Dementieva is hot off a gold medal, but I just don’t see her ever seriously contending for a major and don’t get why people suddenly think she’s going to start winning some now. Crafty Swiss veteran, Patty Schnyder could cause trouble for the fragile Russians if she’s on her game. Somehow, I see Kuz finding herself in the semis again.

Quarter Four:

World number 2, Jelena Jankovic’s quarter could have some interesting match ups, but should be an easy through for JJ, if she’s healthy. Bronze medalist, Vera Zvonareva, is the next highest seed, but she is very streaky. Lindsay Davenport is in this quarter, but she hasn’t played a singles match since Wimbledon due to a knee injury and I wouldn’t be surprised if she withdrew. The two youngsters, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka are my dark horse picks for this section and if Jelena isn’t in the semis one of these two will be.

Semifinalist: Jelena Jankovic

Semifinals: Serena def. Ivanovic, Jankovic def. Kuznetsova

Final: Serena def. Jankovic

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, U.S. Open, , , , , , ,

Beijing 2008: Men’s Predictions and Previews

Quarter 1:

Soon to be world number 2, Roger Federer of Switzerland, has a tough first round against Dmitry Tursunov of Russia but, I think Fed is going to be a bit more relaxed now that the race for number 1 is over. That being said, he still has to deal with James Blake of the United States, Gilles Simon of France, and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. Simon and Karlovic have already beaten Federer this summer. Also in contention is Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who upset Federer in the 2004 Games in Athens.

Semifinalist: Roger Federer

Quarter 2:

The second quarter has no clear cut favorite, with its highest seeds being Nikolay Davydenko and David Ferrer. Also in this section are Fernando Gonzales of Chile and Nicolas Kiefer of Germany. I feel like we’re going to get a surprise semifinalist out of this group, though.

Semifinalist: Ernest Gulbis

Quarter 3:

Novak Djokovic is the favorite for this section with the biggest challenges coming from David Nalbandian and Mikhail Youzhny. Novak does have an interesting first round encounter with Robby Ginepri, which could spell trouble if the Serb is off his game. Floaters include big hitting Simon Bolleli and charismatic frenchman Gael Monfils. Still, I think Djokovic is through to the semis this time.

Semifinalist: Novak Djokovic

Quarter 4:

New world number one, Rafael Nadal, could face a stern test from Andy Murray in this section of the draw if it holds form. It looks like it most likely will, with the other seeds being Stanislas Wawrinka and Radek Stepanek. Nadal could meet Lleyton Hewitt in the second round, but Hewitt doesn’t have the tools anymore to take down Rafa.

Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal

Gold: Rafael Nadal

Silver: Roger Federer

Bronze: Novak Djokovic

Filed under: Olympics, Predictions/Previews, , , ,

Beijing 2008: Women’s Preview and Predictions

Quarter 1:

This quarter houses top seed, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, and eighth seed, Agnieska Radwanska of Poland. The two remaining seeds in the section are Vera Zvonareva of Russia (9) and Patty Schnyder of Switzerland (13). Also lurking in this section is Tatiana Golovin, who is playing in her first tournament since April. Look for Ana to make the semifinals easily if her thumb is not an issue. Radwanska could definitely give Ivanovic trouble if she isn’t playing her best.

Semifinalist: Ana Ivanovic

Quarter 2:

Fourth seed, Serena Williams of the United States, and fifth seed, Elena Dementieva of Russia, lead this section of the draw. The other two seeds are Alize Cornet of France (15) and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia (10). Granted, Hantuchova is just coming back from injury and Cornet isn’t really much of a hard court player and will face big-hitting Nicole Vaidisova in the first round. If Vaidisova is on her game she could do some major damage on the fast hard courts in Beijing. Also, watch out for Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, coming off her first title last week in Sweden. However, this quarter is Serena’s for the taking, and an Olympic Gold being the only significant title that she lacks, you know she’s bringing her A game.

Semifinalist: Serena Williams

Quarter 3:

Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia is in danger right off the bat, facing local favorite, Li Na, in the first round. This match up is probably the best chance of a first round upset if Na is in form. Also in this section are Venus Williams of the United States, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Flavia Pennetta of Italy. Azarenka has had solid results this summer and could make some noise in this section. Venus hasn’t played since she won the title at Wimbledon so, her form will be questionable.

Semifinalist: Venus Williams

Quarter 4:

Soon to be world number 1, Jelena Jankovic’s quarter also has U.S. Open Series winner, Dinara Safina of Russia, who’s been having a red hot summer so far, grabbing titles in Los Angeles and Montreal. Other seeds are Agnes Szavay of Hungary (11) and Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia (16). Also in this section is 2000 Olympic Gold medalist, Lindsay Davenport, whose primary reason for returning to the tour was to compete in the Games. I’m thinking whoever wins the projected Safina-Davenport second round match is going all the way to the semifinals.

Semifinalist: Dinara Safina

Gold: Serena Williams

Silver: Dinara Safina

Bronze: Venus Williams

Filed under: Olympics, Predictions/Previews, , , ,

People’s Monday Picks

Tomorrow is probably the greatest day in tennis, with all women’s and men’s 4th round matches being played, so here’s our picks for people’s monday.

GENTLEMEN

Roger Federer (1) v. Lleyton Hewitt (20): Federer in three

Fernando Verdasco (22) v. Mario Ancic: Ancic in four

Marat Safin v. Stanislas Wawrinka (13): Safin in four

Marcos Baghdatis (10) v. Feliciano Lopez (31): Baghdatis in four

Janko Tipseravic v. Rainer Schuettler: Tipseravic in three

Marin Cilic v. Arnaud Clement: Cilic in four

Richard Gasquet ( 8 ) v. Andy Murray (14): Gasquet in five

Mikhail Youzhny (17) v. Rafael Nadal (2): Nadal in three

LADIES

Jie Zheng v. Agnes Szavay (15): Szavay in three

Nicole Vaidisova ( 18 ) v. Anna Chakvetadze (8): Vaidisova in three

Svetlana Kuznetsova (4) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (14): Radwanska in three

Bethanie Mattek v. Serena Williams (6): Serena in two

Elena Dementieva (5) v. Shahar Peer (24): Dementieva in two

Nadia Petrova (21) v. Alla Kudryavtseva: Petrova in two

Venus Williams (7) v. Alisa Kleybanova: Venus in two

Tamarine Tanasugarn v. Jelena Jankovic (2): Jankovic in three

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, Wimbledon, , , , , , ,

Wimbledon 2008: Gentlemen’s Draw Preview

Quarter One

This is five-time defending champion and world number one, Roger Federer’s section of the draw. The next highest seed is number five David Ferrer, but he most likely pose this biggest threat to Roger. Former champion, Lleyton Hewitt and big-hitting Chilean, Fernando Gonzales are also in this quarter. Perhaps most dangerous though is Croat, Mario Ancic, the last man to beat Federer at Wimbledon. He has all the tools for the grass game and could make some serious noise.

Quarter Two

Third seed, Novak Djokovic’s section of the draw offers little resistance to the Serbian. Djokovic could be looking at a second round matchup with Marat Safin, which can’t be too fun for anyone. But, most likely Marat won’t find the form that won him two majors. Big server, Ivo Karlovic, could cause some upsets on his favorite surface. Rounding out the quarter, is former finalist, David Nalbandian, but he was recently demolished by Djokovic, one and love.

Semifinalist: Novak Djokovic

Quarter Three

The highest seed here is number four, Nikolay Davydenko, but, six seed, Andy Roddick is the clear favorite on this surface. Also in this section, is James Blake, but he has never proved himself in a major and probably won’t. Dangerous floaters in this section are Janko Tipseravic and Marin Cilic. Ivan Ljubicic could also make some waves.

Semifinalist: Andy Roddick.

Quarter Four

World number two, Rafael Nadal, rounds out the bottom half of the draw. Richard Gasquet is also in this section, but his form is questionable at best. Local favorite, Andy Murray, is involved in a crazy first round match with Fabrice Santoro, but look for the crowd to pull him through at least a couple of rounds.  Another intriguing first round matchup is big serving American, John Isner vs. up and coming Latvian, Ernest Gulbis.  Tommy Haas could also be a dangerous floater.

Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal

Semifinals: Federer def. Djokovic, Nadal def. Roddick

Finals: Nadal def. Federer

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, Wimbledon, , , , , ,

Wimbledon 2008: Ladies’ Draw Preview

For once, we have a women’s draw that’s pretty evenly distributed. So really, it’s anybody’s tournament.

Quarter One

This is world number 1, Ana Ivanovic’s quarter. On the bottom of the quarter is eight seed, Anna Chakvetadze. This looks to be the only quarter with relatively smooth sailing for the favorite. However, this quarter does contain some floaters like Agnes Szavay and Casey Dellacqua. Nicole Vaidisova is also in this quarter, but who knows what we’ll get from her. My upset pick for this section is Dellacqua over Schynder in the first round.

Semifinalist: Ana Ivanovic

Quarter Two

The top seed in this section is Svetlana Kuznetsova, but the favorite would definitely be Serena Williams. I say would because the sisters don’t win Wimbledon on even years and their form has been questionable all year. Wimbledon finalist, Marion Bartoli, is in this section and she also happens to be in my upset pick, losing to up and comer, Sabine Lisicki, in the first round. Former champion, Amelie Mauresmo, is also in this section, but don’t expect too much, as her form has been terrible all year.

Semifinalist: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Quarter Three

This is probably the most interesting quarter, with past champions Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova residing in this section. A potential Elena Dementieva-Davenport 3rd round match is in the cards, but look for Davenport to take this one, seeing as Dementieva sucks on grass. French Open finalist, Dinara Safina, is also in this section, but grass is definitely not her best surface. Victoria Azarenka could also make some noise, but Sharapova is too tough for anyone in her quarter.

Semifinalist: Maria Sharapova

Quarter Four

Defending champion, Venus Williams’ quarter also contains world number 2, Jelena Jankovic. Grass is probably Jelena’s weakest surface and will definitely have her hands full with Vera Zvonareva in the 4th round. Daniela Hantuchova is returning from injury in this quarter, but who knows what form she’ll be in. I’m thinking an early exit for Venus Williams and the quarter is wide open for a newcomer.

Semifinalist: Vera Zvonareva

I’m not even gonna bother to predict the finals or champion because this draw is just way too wide open.

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, Wimbledon, , , , , , ,

Roland Garros Women’s Semifinals Preview

Semifinal #1: Safina vs. Kuznetsova

In this all-Russian affair we see World number 4, Svetlana Kuznetsova, take on 13 seed Dinara Safina. This is Safina’s first grand slam semifinal and may have gotten a little lucky to get here, as her previous two opponents pretty much choked the match away. Kuznetsova is much more experienced on the big stage, having reached three grand slam finals, including one here in 2006, and winning the 2004 U.S. Open. Svetlana is also one of the best movers on the clay and can hit shot for shot with Safina. This means Kuznetsova will be able to neutralize Safina’s power and make her hit a lot of balls, which usually spells trouble for those who hit as flat and hard as Safina. Look for Kuznetsova to use her heavy top spin forehand and superior movement to take out Safina.

Prediction: Kuznetsova in three

Semifinal #2: Jankovic vs. Ivanovic

This blockbuster semifinal has the two Serbian starlets, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, fight it out for a place in the final and the Serbian #1. Ana Ivanovic has been playing lights out, having not lost a set in five matches and dishing out a double bagel in the 4th round. Her monster forehand is on fire and even her backhand is giving her winners. Jelena Jankovic has been struggling with a forearm injury. She just isn’t getting any pop off her forehand, which is going to give Ivanovic plenty of sitters to rip off both wings. This Ivanovic’s match to win or lose, if she can keep her toss under control, she should find herself in her third grand slam final.

Prediction: Ivanovic in two tight sets

Filed under: Ivanovic, Jankovic, Predictions/Previews, Roland Garros, , , , , , ,

Roland Garros Preview: The Gals

Quarter One:

The newly-crowned World Number 1, Maria Sharapova, managed to avoid the Williams sisters in her half of the draw and has an even more favorable quarter. Berlin champion, Dinara Safina, is in this quarter but the chances of her continuing her great play are slim. Former finalist, Elena Dementieva, is the seven seed and has proven herself on clay, but has never really been able to show up in big matches. Vera Zvonareva is probably the one with the greatest chance of upsetting Maria and has been playing consistently good tennis all year.

Semifinalist Prediction: Maria Sharapova

Quarter Two:

2006 finalist, Svetlana Kuznetsova, is the top seed in the second quarter. Kuznetsova is a solid player on all surfaces, but clay is probably her strongest because of her great movement and heavy topspin forehand. Two teens looking to make some waves in this section are Victoria Azarenka and Agnes Szavay. Anna Chakvetadze is the six seed, but hasn’t quite found her form this year.

Semifinalist Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Quarter Three:

The bottom half of the women’s draw is loaded and the third quarter is probably the stronger of the two. It houses Venus Williams and Rome champion, Jelena Jankovic. It also has some dangerous floaters like Amelie Mauresmo, Agnieska Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova. Keep your eye on 18 year-old, frenchwoman, Alize Cornet, who made the semis at Charleston and the finals in Rome. With her home crowd behind her, this kid could do some serious damage.

Semifinalist Prediction: Jelena Jankovic

Quarter Four:

2007 finalist, Ana Ivanovic, and 2002 champion, Serena Williams are slated for a blockbuster quarterfinal if this section holds to form. The sectino also has talented youngsters, like Caroline Wozniacki, Tamira Paszek and Nicole Vaidisova. Granted, Vaidisova has been playing absolutely terrible this year, but if she finds her form she could be very dangerous. Another player to watch for is the wily veteran, Patty Schnyder.

Semifinalist Prediction: Serena Williams

Semifinals: Sharapova def. Kuznetsova, Jankovic def. Serena

Finals: Sharapova def. Jankovic

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, Roland Garros, , , , ,

Roland Garros Preview: The Guys

Throw Up the Deuce is back, revamped and ready for Roland Garros. Now here is our draw outlook for the men’s side.

Quarter One:

Roger Federer’s quarter is light but does have a few dangerous players that could do some damage to the World Number 1. Richard Gasquet is the second-highest seed at 8, but with his recent form don’t expect him to do much. Federer has a potentially tricky first round match up with Sam Querry, who has proven himslef on clay earlier this year. Other notables are Stanislas Wawrinka, coming off a stellar week in Rome, former Australian Open finalist, Fernando Gonzales and big serving Ivo Karlovic.

Semifinalist Prediction: Roger Federer

Quarter Two:

Nikolay Davydenko is the highest seed in the second quarter. He could face the always dangerous Marat Safin in the second round. In the bottom half of the quarter is the five seed, David Ferrer, who has some chops on clay. Other seeeds include former champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Radek Stepanek, and Lleyton Hewitt.

Semifinalist Prediction: David Ferrer

Quarter Three:

The top seed in the third quarter is three seed, Novak Djokovic. This quarter looks like smooth sailing for Djokovic, who could face James Blake in the quarters. Blake, however, has never proven himself on clay or at grand slams for that matter. Marcos Baghdatis makes his return to the tour as the number 17 seed and faces Simone Bolleli in the first round. Other seeds include former champion, Carlos Moya, big-hitting Tomas Berdych, Guillermo Canas, and the other Serb, Janko Tipseravic.

Semifinalist Prediction: Novak Djokovic

Quarter Four:

Rounding out the last section of the draw is three-time defending champion, Rafael Nadal. They’re aren’t many in his quarter that could pull off the upset, but six seed, David Nalbandian could make some noise if he gets hot. The 15 seed, Mikhail Youzhny is always a tough opponent. Other than that, it seems that Rafa has a pretty easy round to the semis.

Semifinalist Prediction: Rafael Nadal

Semifinals: Federer def. Ferrer, Nadal def. Djokovic

Finals: Nadal def. Federer

Filed under: Predictions/Previews, Roland Garros, , , , ,