US Open 2016 Draw Analysis – Djokovic Has Challenging Road to Final

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Greetings. Here is Djokovic’s draw:

  • R1: Janowicz
  • R2: Vesely
  • R3: Klizan
  • R4: Isner/Gasquet
  • QF: Cilic/Tsonga/Anderson
  • SF: Raonic/Nadal
  • F: Murray

Given that Djokovic is still suffering from wrist problems, that is a pretty tough draw. He also hasn’t played competitive tennis for about three weeks now but he gets Janowicz first round which should allow him to shake off some rust.

If he got Del Potro again first round that would have been an issue but the odds of that happening was small. As it turns out Del Potro is not in his half so he won’t have to worry about the Argentine unless they both make the final.

But Djokovic won’t have much time to shake off rust because in the second round he is likely to play Vesely who he lost to in Monte Carlo this year. In the third round, it is Klizan who is a pretty dangerous lefty himself.

Isner or Gasquet is no joke either and in the quarterfinals, Djokovic could have to face Cilic who just won Cincinnati. Cilic and Del Potro are the biggest dark horses for me who can upset anyone, although Djokovic does have a 14-0 head-to-head record over Cilic.

Tsonga and Anderson are dangerous players themselves so that section should be interesting to follow. I guess you can say Raonic and Nadal are dangerous dark horses too although Nadal less so than Raonic.

And then in the final, you’d expect Murray to be there unless Del Potro or even Nishikori can cause an upset. Murray’s draw is not terribly difficult because he can’t meet Del Potro before the semi-finals.

Looking at Nadal’s draw, it’s not very difficult either until the quarters unless he loses to Agut who played a great match against Djokovic last year. Getting past Raonic would be a different matter but who knows if Nadal finds some form again.

I suppose a Djokovic vs Nadal semi-final is not impossible but it is more likely to be Djokovic vs Raonic.

  • Bottom Half

Ironically, the top-seeded American at the US Open, Johnson, got the unseeded danger man Del Potro in the second round. Del Potro won his one major at the US Open and he is a threat after his showing in Rio.

The other seed in his section, Ferrer, is not having a good year but Fognini could beat him who himself is a dangerous player. That section of Del Potro is not so tough though and I can see him coming through and face Thiem or Querrey in the last 16.

Those are not unbeatable opponents either and neither is his potential opponent in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka has a tricky opener with Verdasco and he has the youngsters Zverev, Kyrgios, and Tomic in his section as well.

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It is tough to predict but if Del Potro plays like he did in Rio he can potentially make semis and face Murray which would be an interesting rematch. I hope Del Potro does well anyway because he is exciting to watch.

Murray has some potential tricky opponents in Lopez, Nishikori, and Del Potro but he will probably make the final with the form he is in. An upset is never out of the question though like we saw in Cincy last week.

  • How Important is this US Open for Djokovic?

I have already seen a few articles suggesting this US Open is crucial for Djokovic if he still has hopes of passing Federer’s slam count of 17 and become the greatest. First of all, I don’t think he has to pass Federer’s slam count to be considered greater.

Second, these people seem to forget that Djokovic would not be in this position if he didn’t win the US Open last year. They also probably forgot the difficult conditions under which he won that title, especially in the final.

He was, first of all, up against a poor US Open final record of 1-4 and then there was a drunk and fanatical pro-Federer crowd to deal with in the final. So let’s just acknowledge the enormity of that achievement.

Winning that title helped him to get into the GOAT debate this year when he won the French Open and completed the career- and Djoker slam. That is the next thing to acknowledge, that he is already in the GOAT debate.

Now he is in a similar situation where he was last year before the US Open. Even though he broke through last year by winning another final, his record is still 2-5 in US Open finals and two US Open titles still don’t do his talents on hardcourts justice.

Therefore I agree that this is another big moment for Djokovic in his quest to chase Federer down. The problem for him is that he hit his peak quite late and doesn’t have an awful lot of time left at age 29.

That said, I don’t think it is as important for him to win the title as some journalists make it out to be. 29 is not that old in tennis these days and Djokovic is now only 5 slams back of Federer.

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I certainly think the stakes were higher last year for Djokovic where he had a poor finals record to overcome and had to face Federer in the final which meant if Federer won he would have been out of reach of Djokovic almost certainly.

He can now afford not to win the title and still catch Federer. He has played an awful lot of tennis since the beginning of 2015 winning almost everything in sight and it is no wonder his body is feeling the strain.

The wrist may even flare up during the event and cause him to lose or withdraw. No big deal. It happens in tennis. But of course ideally, Djokovic wants to shut down all this Murray hype and talk of his own decline as quickly as possible.

Another three-slam year wouldn’t hurt his resume either. But in the end, his health is the most important thing and he shouldn’t take unnecessary risks. He still has time. It has already been another incredible year for Djokovic.

Winning the French Open this year and completing the Djoker slam was the big one for Djokovic and after that everything is gravy. We will see how he progresses through the early rounds.

If he finds a good rhythm and his wrist holds up then I obviously like his chances to make the final and once he makes the final I obviously want to see him defeat Murray or whoever is across the net.

If he is healthy he is the favorite. The Djokovic/Murray finals are not as exciting as some of the other matchups but we haven’t seen Djokovic play against the ‘new’ Murray or Becker against Lendl as coaches for that matter.

I think it would be interesting!

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