2. Andy Murray
6. Kei Nishikori
12. David Goffin
16. Feliciano Lopez
21. Ivo Karlovic
22. Grigor Dimitrov
25. Philipp Kohlschreiber
30. Gilles Simon
Nishikori leads this part of the quarter and could not have hand drawn a better early draw. He opens against Benjamin Becker. Round two might yield talented Russian qualifier Karen Khachanov, but that is still a good match-up for the 6th seed. The seed standing in his way of the fourth round is Kohlschreiber. The German comes to New York with injury questions after withdrawing from the Olympics with a foot fracture. That doesn’t sound like something that will be conducive to him challenging in this part of the draw. Mahut could benefit in R1 against Kohlschreiber and use that advantage to surprise to at least round three.
The other portion of the top half looks more competitive with Goffin and Karlovic as the seeds. You also have danger men like the suddenly hot Viktor Troicki and perhaps more magic from Donald Young to worry about here. Goffin opens against Jared Donaldson. The American has looked better on hard courts this summer, but still does not seem to have the staying power to beat Top 20 players who are usually consistent like the Belgian. Karlovic faces an always dangerous Yen-Hsun Lu to open. Dr.Ivo is in fine form though.
Karlovic would like a 2nd round encounter with Young perhaps as he has beaten the American twice. Young’s serve generally just has not been able to hold up against the big man. Goffin should still have the advantage over Troicki, if the Serb stays hot from Winston-Salem. He was absolutely dreadful before catching fire this past week, so that is a big question still.
Murray also appears to have a pretty smooth path to the quarterfinals. His Cincinnati final flop not withstanding, it has been an excellent summer for the Scot. He’s easily been playing the best tennis of anyone on tour in light of Djokovic’s injury. He has Lukas Rosol to open and in the past that could have been tough, but Rosol is miles off his best of late. Murray should break him down over the course of the match and move on. The second round would yield either Marcel Granollers or Juan Monaco. The second seed is 12-4 combined against the duo and has already whipped Monaco twice this summer. Simon is the other seed nearest Murray and he’s been borderline awful lately and could be a one and done candidate against a rejuvenated Radek Stepanek.
Elsewhere, it’ll be eye candy central with Dimitrov and Feliciano Lopez in the other part of this half. Dimitrov has shown better of late and could potentially make a run here. His semifinal run in Cincy should fuel him with some needed confidence. His path to a possible round four showdown with Murray looks easier than Lopez’s. The Spaniard was drawn rough to open with Borna Coric. The talented young Croatian has been playing fairly well this summer and looks ever improving on this surface. That has the potential to be one of the best first round matches. Slight edge to Lopez for me. A Dimitrov-Lopez meeting in round three would be a replay of their recent second rounder in Cincy, where Dimitrov came through in a third set tiebreak.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Ivo Karlovic. The 37-year-old has not had a lot of luck at the U.S. Open in his career at 10-12, but he has beein the winning mood this summer with two titles. His serve of course is his weapon, but he also adds in the serve and volley that can throw opponents off. If his serve is popping, he could prove to be tough to the diminutive ones in his path – Goffin and Nishikori.
AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE BECAUSE THE PIG SAID SO …
This looks like a potential blockbuster quarterfinal with Murray against Nishikori, although that has heavily favored the Scot to the tune of 7-1. If you look at the potential pitfalls for Nishikori getting to the quarters, they would be Goffin or Karlovic and he has fared well against both. So perhaps it is health that might again bite Nishikori since this looks so locked in. For Murray, he should get a chance to conserve energy early in this draw and that means he likely is fresh later in the tournament – bad news for everyone.
Predicted Semifinalist: Andy Murray