2011 US Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 1
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Qualifier
When I was working on the picks, I didn’t know who Djokovic was playing and honestly it doesn’t matter. This match is all about him and his shoulder health. He was forced to retire at the finals of Cincinnati with this injury and it could have a major effect on this match. His record is still 57-2 on the year and he’s won nine titles which is simply amazing.
I was recently asked how I would compare Djokovic to the greats in the game, and I believe he is right up there. I don’t think that there is anyone in the history of the game that has been as solid in all areas as he is right now. He is so well-rounded and his game is so complete that it is extremely difficult to even take a set off of him. The ball is basically on a string and he is the puppet master. He is remarkable to watch. I look for him to advance, but I’ll be keeping my eyes on how his shoulder feels moving forward.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 3 sets
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Gael Monfils (FRA)
Dimitrov is one of the best up-and-coming players in the world along with Tomic, Harrison and Raonic. He’s currently ranked a career high of #52 in the world and he definitely has the skills to one day be a top 10 or 15 player and he should be able to push Monfils in this match.
Speaking of Monfils, he has had a great summer. He went to the finals at Washington and was a quarterfinalist in both Canada and Cincinnati where he lost to Djokovic each time. He has a very good chance to repeat his performance from last year, when he reached the quarters and he could even go further.
This is the first career meeting between the 20-year old Dimitrov and the 24-year old Monfils. Dimitrov has a very good all-around game and for a young man, he is extremely talented. Dimitrov doesn’t want to get into long rallies with Monfils. He needs to keep the points short and keep Monfils off-balance, because the Frenchman can run all day. He can hit just about any shot in the book, and he has talent oozing out of him. If Monfils keeps everything together he should advance, but this will be a very interesting match.
Nick’s Pick – Monfils in 4, but watch out!
John Isner (USA) vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Since crashing out of Wimbledon in the second round, Isner has played pretty well on US soil. He won Newport, reached the finals of Atlanta and the semis of Washington. He then had a second round loss in Canada and a first round defeat in Cincinnati but he is in the semis of Winston-Salem. He loves playing in front of the home fans, and his results prove it.
Is there anyone less predictable on the men’s side than Marcos Baghdatis? He was once #8 in the world and now he down to #60. His summer has been so-so as he was a quarterfinalist in Washington and Winston-Salem, but lost in the second round in LA and the first round in Canada and Cincinnati. He’s never been past the second round of the US Open, but no one would be shocked if he did it in 2011.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two and the third in just the last few weeks. Isner beat Baghdatis in Canada and Winston-Salem and now will play him again! That is simply incredible that they are playing so often this summer. With those wins under his belt, and with the crowd behind him I have to give the edge to Isner. The biggest concern I have is if this match goes deep into the fourth or fifth set, Baghdatis becomes a tougher out. He is great at hanging in there and with a big serve and forehand he is dangerous. I look for Isner to advance in 3 or 4 sets.
Nick’s Pick – Isner in 4 sets
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Michael Russell (USA)
The last time Roddick was ranked this low at the US Open was back in 2000 when he was playing in his first US Open and was ranked #338. Now, he isn’t that low now as he is #21, but it is still really odd to see that high of a number next to his name. He’s 21-10 on the year and won the title in Memphis back in February, but since then he has reached the semifinals of a tournament only once. It would be great to see Roddick make another deep run as he is always a fan favorite.
Russell is a journeyman, and he is never a quick out in any tournament. He’s ranked #95 in the world and he is playing in the main draw of his seventh US Open. He’s never been past the first round of this tournament, and it looks like that streak may continue.
Roddick is 1-0 against Russell but that match was back in 2002 on clay and much has changed since then. For years, Roddick had the biggest serve in the game and it was one of the most feared shots in tennis. That is certainly not the case anymore as all the top guys seem to serve big and have the big forehand to go with it. This used to be Roddick’s bread-and-butter and won him many titles, including the US Open. You cannot win with one weapon and to beat the best you have to have a complete game with no weaknesses.
Against Russell, Roddick cannot fall 6-8 feet behind the baseline. He needs to step in and take the ball early and win quick points. Russell is a scrapper and will fight Roddick for every point. Roddick should advance in straight sets, but it will be interesting to see how he handles Russell.
Nick’s Pick – Roddick in 3 sets
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)
Harrison, who trains at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy, is definitely one of the best young players in the world. He’s ranked #67 and has had a very good summer which includes semifinal appearances in both Atlanta and LA (lost to Fish both times). He made a name for himself at last year’s US Open, when he beat Ivan Ljubicic and came very close to beating Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round. Does he have another big upset in him this year?
Cilic has had an up-and-down year, posting a 30-17 record and seeing his ranked drop to #27 in the world. Many thought he was going to be a perennial top-ten player, but that hasn’t been the case thus far in his short career. He was a quarterfinalist here back in 2009, but lost in the second round last year to Kei Nishikori.
This is the first career meeting between these two guys and it promises to be an interesting one. Cilic has the big serve and groundstrokes, but he doesn’t seem to have the confidence he did a year ago. On the other hand, Harrison isn’t lacking any confidence in his game and for good reason. He has all the tools, he just needs to stay focused and he will be fine. He has a huge first serve, his second serve is one of the best in the game already, and he is comfortable anywhere on the court. Against Cilic, I would advise Ryan to come forward and put pressure on the Croat as much as he can. I am looking for a bit of an upset here as I gotta go with my guy, Ryan!
Nick’s Pick – Harrison in 4 sets