While the U.S Open does not start until August 27, I already have a surprise winner picked for the men’s draw. That would be Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.
He is not just the only player to break the string of major championships won by the Big 3 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic), but also holds the distinction of being a part of the only prediction I have gotten right.
Del Potro won the 2009 U.S. Open. Somewhere deep in the recesses of facebook status updates is my prediction early in the second week that Del Potro would win the tournament. I’m making an even bolder prediction for 2012, saying Del Potro will be the 2012 U.S. Open champion before the end of the American hardcourt season.
Why Del Potro?
After winning that 2009 U.S. Open against Federer, Del Potro suffered an injury that hampered him for the better part of two years. Just recently has he returned to his 2009 form. Without that injury, we may be talking about the Big Four instead of the Big Three.
While this provides opportunity for everyone in the field, with one of the Big Three out Del Potro should have an easier road to the final.
Del Potro has also had recent success against both Federer and Djokovic. In the recently completed London Olympics, Del Potro and Federer played the longest match in Olympic history. While visibly upset after that semifinal loss, Del Potro came back to win bronze, defeating Djokovic in the processs.
What About Murray?
While Andy Murray seems to be on the verge of capturing his first major championship, after losing an emotional final to Federer at Wimbledon, then avenging that loss to win the gold medal in a rematch with Federer at the Olympics, Murray has to be emotionally spent.
Murray also withdrew from a post-Olympics tournament in Toronto due to injury. While I do believe Murray will eventually break through with his first major in the next 12 months, Australia and Wimbledon seem to be his best shot.
Can You Really Count Out Fed?
No, not really. Although Federer is in impeccable shape, he is 30 years old. While to the average person, that is young, for a professional tennis player that is almost ancient.
Federer spent a lot of energy in winning his seventh Wimbledon title and reaching the finals at the Olympics. I don’t know if he has another two weeks of best-of-five matches in him this year. Federer is a threat in any tournament he enters. He can never be counted out, but the odds are not in his favor this time around.
There is my bold prediction for the U.S. Open.