Saturday, August 24, 2019

Last Slam on the Left: U.S. Open 2019 -- The Men

Before we go on, I stand by this draw. Maybe it's crazy. I'm going with my heart!
The hardcourt season on the men's side feels different. It's been fairly unpredictable and mostly, that's because of a guy named Daniil Medvedev, who has collected some impressive wins this summer, including Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open, Dominic Thiem (who, I guess doesn't do tennis except clay?) and Karen Khachanov. It's August and Rafael Nadal is still healthy and Roger Federer has played one U.S. Open warmup -- and it didn't go well. So it's weird. And then this draw has a fairly loaded top half and a bottom half that is very friendly for Nadal. I'm not buying that John Millman will be an early problem. But there are a few fun early matchups worth checking out:

Early Rounds to Watch

Denis Shapovalov v. Felix Auger-Aliassime: This is almost as bonkers as that other first-round matchup everyone is talking about. Actually, it's worse. This matchup this early is not really fair and I am not sure who will win. Unlike the other matchup. Patience, kiddies. We'll get there.

Vasek Pospisil v. Karen Khachanov: I'm picking Khachanov, but that's a pretty stiff first-round challenge.

Djokovic v. Sam Querrey: ... if they both win their first round. Hmm.

Frances Tiafoe v. Alexander Zverev: Hear that, Frankie? That's opportunity calling if you can beat Ivo Karlovic in the first round.

Who Are Our Quarterfinalists?

Right, right. Sacrilege. I know. But hear me out.
Besides Tiafoe/Zverev, there is some space in this draw for weird things to happen. Like Federer/David Goffin. We haven't seen much of him this summer, but Federer does not seem to be at his sharpest and this could be a chance for someone who is a bit more in-form, such as Goffin. And with Medvedev in Djokovic's quarter? Djokovic has lost twice to him this year, including already this month.
In the bottom half, I know it's not popular, but I think that even for someone struggling like Stefanos Tsitsipas, there are worse draws. Nick Kyrgios' head is halfway into the next NBA season. Thiem? I don't know. What time do you have? Is the moon in retrograde? Did I really pick him for the quarters? Ay dios mio.

Who's Going to Win?

It's not just because of his sexy ass, but I'm tipping Rafa. The draw's looking good for him, he's healthy (for now) and no Djokovic before the final. I think the biggest potential issue in his half could be Khachanov, who's playing well right now and kinda reminds me of Marat Safin's game, except clearly much less sexy.

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