This year’s last Grand Slam is now upon us. On Monday the US Open starts in New York with a ton of storylines looking to unfold. How will the new $150 Million Centre Court roof fare on Arthur Ashe Stadium? Will Djokovic recover from his less than stellar summer? Can Angelique Kerber continue the hot streak? Will the absence of Roger Federer hurt the tournament?
So lets catch the ferry across to Staten Island, order a pizza slice, wave to the Statue of Liberty on the way back to Manhattan, catch an outrageously expensive taxi past Trump Tower to Queens and get into this years’ US Open.
We’ll start with the Ladies. Rio Gold Medalist Monica Puig will want to capitalize on her wonderful exploits and make a second week run. The Puerto Rican snuck in as the 32nd seed. A potential 3rd round against French Open Champion Garbine Muguruza looms.
German Angelique Kerber has had quite a summer. Runner-up at Wimbledon, Semi’s in Montreal, Silver medal in Rio and runner-up in Cincinnati. This success has left her on the verge of overtaking Serena for the number one ranking. Kerber could play last years’ runner-up Italian Roberta Vinci in the Quarter finals.
Serena has only played 7 events all year and very sparingly through the summer. Runner-up at the French, winning Wimbledon and a straight set loss in the 3rd round to Elina Svitolina in Rio are her only events since May. Redemption must be on Serena’s mind though, after the stunning semi final loss last year in New York to Vinci. Williams will be looking to add to her 6 US Opens, she opens against Ekaterina Makarova, a tough first round.
Romanian Simona Halep is another player in the mix. Ranked number 5 she is still searching for the Grand Slam breakthrough and after winning Bucharest and Montreal, this could be her moment. Venus, Safarova, Muguruza and Madison Keys could also make some noise. This one is tough to predict, it’s been a big year already, especially with the Olympics sprinkled on top.
I’m going to go with a first time Grand Slam winner here. Your 2016 US Open Ladies Champion will be Madison Keys. Ranked number 9, coming into New York in form by finishing runner-up in Montreal and semi’s at the Olympics, if she can deal with hometown pressure she has the game to go all the way.
Lets move over to the Men. Rio Gold Medalist Andy Murray is in white-hot form these past few months, winning Queens, Wimbledon, Olympics and runner-up at the French. Here is your favorite going into New York. As Champion in 2012 and runner-up in 08 Murray has had past success at Flushing Meadows, which is a good barometer. The Scot is in the same Quarter as Kei Nishikori.
World Number one Novak Djokovic has had an inconsistent summer since winning at Roland Garros. An early exit at Wimbeldon mixed with winning the event in Toronto coupled with a nightmare draw in Rio that saw him go out 1st round to the big hitting Juan Martin del Potro makes predicting how the Serbian will fare in New York a bit tricky. He has an uncomfortable first round against big serving Jerszy Janowicz.
Rafa Nadal is back after withdrawing from the French Open in May. In his first event since returning from that wrist injury he had a mighty tournament at the Olympics, winning the Gold in Doubles and going oh so close in a Bronze Medal loss to Nishikori. Difficult to say how Nadal will go in New York, considering the courts are quick and his disjointed year. But the Spaniard has won the US Open twice (2010, 2013). A potential Quarter Final is ahead with Milos Raonic.
Throw in del Potro, Nishikori, Wawrinka, Kyrios, Raonic and recent Cincinnati winner Marin Cilic and this Mens Draw could be an event to remember.
Remembering I picked Novak to win Wimbledon and he flamed out in the first week I’m a bit hesitant to pick a hot favorite again. A surprise winner will be Candaian Milos Raonic. The reason being a big run at Wimbledon where he lost to Murray in the final showed him what it takes to almost go all the way at the Slams. Couple that with a huge serve on quick courts and he’ll be the first Canadian to win the US Open ever.