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U.S. Open 2015: Men's singles round 1 preview

We analyse key first-round matches at the U.S. Open and look at Federer, Djokovic and Murray's chances at the tournament, which begins at the Arthur Ashe stadium tomorrow.

We are into the last leg of the US Open Series, with the Winston Salem Open being the last tournament before this year’s US Open kicks off.

Andy Murray won the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series Title for the second time with 145 points.  World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was a close second with 140 points, with Swiss Maestro Roger Federer finishing third (100 points).

Should Murray win the US Open, he would take home a world record payout of $4.3 million payout ($3.3 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open as Emirates Airline US Open Series champion). The record is currently held by Rafael Nadal for his 2013 season.

The draws are out and again, things look very good for Roger Federer. 

A potential quarter-final between Djokovic and Nadal is on the cards, but it may . My pick for the top 3 first round matches.

Andy Murray (3) vs Nick Kyrgios:

Murray (R) with Nick Kyrgios of Australia

Andy Murray is going to be tested right from Round 1. Kyrgios is not a player people want to play against this early in a tournament. He has wins against the likes of Nadal and Federer under his belt. Following his unsportsmanlike behaviour against Stan Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup, however, the Australian has lost a lot of goodwill and there will hardly be people rooting for the young gun

Kyrgios might have a strong game, but he has a long way to go before he can actually achieve something big. Tennis is as much a mental sport as it is physical. And to be a champion, one needs to have the right temperament and the right spirit on court.

It appears that the Australian media is doing more harm than good to upcoming players like Kyrgios and Kokkinakis by exaggerating their achievements and showering them with attention. The last thing the players need right now is to get distracted by the paparazzi and glamour.

It is crucial for Kyrgios to get his head around things and focus on what actually matters. The Scot has beaten Kyrgios at the Australian Open and the French Open this year with utmost ease. 

Prediction: Murray to win in three sets


Rafael Nadal (8) vs Borna Coric:

Coric(L) with Rafael Nadal 

Having beaten Nadal in their first match at the ATP Basel, Borna Coric made a huge statement.

A lot has changed since. Coric has improved tremendously and Nadal is searching for some much needed confidence. It will be a good match as this is Coric’s chance to beat a sloppy Nadal yet again, and Nadal just cannot afford any more losses to newbies. It is not about what the critics might say, but about the fact that these are soul-scarring losses for Nadal. 

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in four sets.


Richard Gasquet (12) vs Thanasi Kokkinakis

Gasquet (L) and Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis

Richard Gasquet has been one of the achievers of 2015. He started his career with the right momentum and was the Junior World No 1 in his time. He could have been the next Lleyton Hewitt, but is yet to achieve his share of laurels. He is in great shape and he beat Kokkinakis just last week in Ohio. 

Prediction: Richard Gasquet to win in three sets.

The Contenders

Novak Djokovic 

He has reached the semifinals or better each of the last eight years, including five appearances in the final, but has only one title to show for it. He is 20-1 in Grand Slam matches this season and has made the final at past 10 tournaments. He is going for a record equalling 11th straight final, currently held by Roger Federer. Though, he lost two successive hard-court title matches at Montreal and Cincinnati, he is the favourite here.

Last 5 U.S. Opens: ’14-SF, ’13-F, ’12-F, ’11-Won, ’10-F

Best Result: Won in 2011

Andy Murray

He has a relatively tough start to the tournament but he is right where he needs to be. He beat Djokovic a couple of weeks back in Montreal and made it to the Semi Finals at Cincinnati. He would want to avoid a Semi Final match against Federer to enhance his chances at the title.

Last 5 US Opens: ’14-QF, ’13-QF, ’12-W, ’11-SF, ’10-3rd

Best Result: Won in 2012.

Roger Federer 

He has self-deprecatingly noted that he hasn’t been to New York final since 2009, but that’s just him being modest. Appearing in a record 64th consecutive major, he is high on his Cincinnati win against Djokovic and has a good draw. I think he is ready to surpass Sampras to stand alone for the Most Number of US Open Titles.

Last 5 US Opens: ’14-SF, ’13-4th, ’12-QF, ’11-SF, ’10-SF

Best Result: Won in 2004,2005,2006,2007,2008.

The US Open brings hope to players who are yet to win a Grand Slam. The tournament has had six different champions in the last seven years. The Open is where Andy Murray won his first title and Marin Cilic and Juan Del Potro have won their only titles.

It is nobody’s territory, atleast not since 2009 when Federer lost in the finals for the first time. Until then, the Swiss had won the tournament for five consecutive years and was contesting his sixth straight US Open final, which came after successive victories at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Federer has not made it to the finals after 2009. This is despite a fairly good chance last year which he was unable to capitalise on, losing to eventual champion Marin Cilic.

This year, his Cincinnati Masters victory over Novak Djokovic has again raised hopes of him winning his 18th Grand Slam title or atleast being one of the top contenders.

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