2008 US Open – Men – Players to Watch

Yesterday we broke down the Top 10 Women, and today we will take a look at our “Players to Watch” on the Men’s Side! Nick’s Picks along with Tennis Week and CBS Sports will bring you live coverage of the US Open from New York City. Check back everyday for insight leading up to the Open and then throughout.

Others to Watch

Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Height: 6′1″
Weight: 165 lbs.
D.O.B: 06/18/1986
Turned Pro: 2002
Rank: 12
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: None
2007 US Open: 2nd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Gasquet has reached the fourth round here in two out of the last three years. Last year was the exception because he had to pull out in the second round due to an injury. This year he has been affected by injuries that have really taken a toll on him, causing him to miss the French Open. At Wimbledon he played well, but was beaten in five sets by Andy Murray in the fourth round.

I think Gasquet has a good shot at being around during the second week if he is healthy. His silky-smooth style and his great all-around game make him a threat in any tournament.

Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Height: 6′2″
Weight: 179 lbs.
D.O.B: 11/15/1983
Turned Pro: 2001
Rank: 13
Plays: Left-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Umag
2007 US Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Verdasco has made his way up the rankings, jumping into the top 15 for the first time in his career. This guy has one of, if not, the best forehands on the ATP Tour. Many players (including Andy Roddick) have said that it is the best. There is no reason he shouldn’t be able to do well on the hard courts, because with his big serve and forehand he has all the tools to do some damage. Could this be the year he breaks through at a Grand Slam?

Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
Height: 6′10″
Weight: 230 lbs.
D.O.B: 02/28/1979
Turned Pro: 2000
Rank: 14
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Nottingham
2007 US Open: 1st Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

While Dr. Ivo has never had a great run here, he is more than capable of stringing together some big wins on the hard court. I think you saw a pretty good example of that in Cincinnati where he beat Federer and reached the semis before falling to Murray. If he gets that big serve going, and he is volleying well, he is one of the most difficult guys to beat on a hard court.

Gilles Simon (FRA)
Height: 5′11″
Weight: 143 lbs.
D.O.B: 12/27/1984
Turned Pro: 2002
Rank: 16
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Indianapolis and Casablanca
2007 US Open: 2nd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

This 23-year old Frenchman has had a great summer hard-court season. He won the tournament in Indianapolis and then reached the semifinals in Toronto (beating Federer along the way). The way he plays, he can give anyone trouble. The question with him is going to be his mental toughness. Is he ready to be a favorite on the grandest of stages? Only time will tell.

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Height: 6′6″
Weight: 172 lbs.
D.O.B: 09/23/1988
Rank: 17
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Washington, Kitzbuhel, Stuttgart, and Los Angeles
2007 US Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

There is no one other than Nadal who is playing better tennis that Del Potro. He has won the last four tournaments he has played in, with the last two coming on hard courts! In LA he beat American Andy Roddick in the finals 6-1, 7-6(2) and looked very impressive doing it. He has a huge serve, a controlling backhand that penetrates the court, he will play huge flat forehands from any position on the court, he is not hesistatnt to come to the net, and maybe most importantly his opponents now accept him as one of the best young players on Tour.

Del Potro is someone that I have touted for a long time, and he seems to have finally found his stroke and confidence. He loves playing on the hard courts, and the US Open may be just the place where he makes a name for himself.

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Height: 5′10″
Weight: 154 lbs.
D.O.B: 10/16/1983
Turned Pro: 2001
Rank: 25
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Auckland
2007 US Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Kohlschreiber is another talented guy who has big guns and a sonic serve. He went to the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year, which is his best result at any Grand Slam. He has played well throughout the entire year, winning in Auckland, reaching the finals in Halle and the quarters in Stuttgart, Cincinnati, and Doha. A quarterfinal run at Flushing Meadows wouldn’t be a big surprise.

Marin Cilic (CRO)
Height: 6′6″
Weight: 180 lbs.
D.O.B: 09/28/1988
Turned Pro: 2005
Rank: 31
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: None
2007 US Open: N/A

Nick’s Thoughts:

Last year at this time Cilic was ranked about 115 in the world, and since then he has jumped all the way up into the top 35. He is coming off of a fourth round appearance at Wimbledon, and two quarterfinal runs at Gstaad and Toronto. He is extremely talented, has a serve that is like a bomb, and moves well for a tall guy. He still has too many first round exits, but for 19-years old this kid has a very bright future.

Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
Height: 6′3″
Weight: 169 lbs.
D.O.B: 08/30/1988
Turned Pro: 2004
Rank: 40
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: None
2007 US Open: Fourth Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Gulbis made a name for himself at last year’s US Open, where he reached the fourth round, beating Robredo before falling to Carlos Moya. This year he has picked up right where he left off, reaching the quarters at the French Open and at the Masters Series event in Cincinnati. Right now, he is the “it” guy on the ATP Tour. The only thing that could stop him is if he gets a bad draw like at Wimbledon where he had to face Nadal in the second round.

Keep your eye out for these young Americans…

 

Sam Querrey – Posted a semifinal result in Indy, but since then has only won one match. Can he finally breakthrough on the big stage?

Donald Young – No player has been surrounded by more hype than DY. He got a big win over Tommy Haas in LA, but other than that he has struggled in 2008. Last year he reached the third round, let’s see if he can do it again!

 

Jesse Levine – Jesse grew up at the Academy and you will not find a harder worker than him. He is quick around the court and his lefty game is unpredictable at times. The crowd really takes to him, and this should help his cause.

John Isner – After a great summer in 2007, Isner has not had the same success in 2008. A couple of wins here would go a long way to help restore his confidence and ranking!

Austin Krajicek – Austin received a main draw wild card for winning the USTA National Championships, and is a fun player to watch. He has trained at the Academy for some time now, and is one of the few true serve and volleyers coming up on the ATP Tour. If you get a chance, make sure to check him out!