Saturday, 25 August 2012

Seeds of Doubt - Men

It might be too much to expect an early upset on the scale of Lukas Rosol's victory over Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon, but some seeds are sure to be knocked out early at the US Open. Three of the men's top 16 seeds lost in the first round last year and all three are again vulnerable this time around.

11th seed, Nicolas Almagro, has never reached a Slam quarterfinal away from Roland Garros and, in Radek Stepanek, he has a tricky first round opponent. 

Julien Benneteau dealt with the Spaniard in 2011, and the clever Czech operator, who has won both previous meetings with Almagro, has a similar style. Stepanek can veer between the very good and very bad in the same match and his best will be a tough test for Almagro.

28th seed, Mikhail Youzhny, is more temperamental than Stepanek and will need to be on his guard against Gilles Muller, having lost to Ernests Gulbis in his opener last year. Will it be the Youzhny that lost in the first round at the Australian Open who turns up at New York, or the version that reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals a few months later? 

Viktor Troicki has lost in the first round at the last two US Opens, a poor return for a player who reached number 12 in the rankings last June. He has struggled since. and is seeded 29th at Flushing Meadows, although a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon hinted at better things. 

He should have too much for world number 97, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, but a slow start will pressurise fragile confidence.

The big player with the trickiest draw is sixth seed, Tomas Berdych. He has been on the periphery of the elite group of players for some time, sitting at the same high point he achieved in the rankings two years ago, and has not kicked on since reaching the 2010 Wimbledon final. 

He had a decent clay court season but a first round exit at Wimbledon, combined with two opening losses at New York in the last four years, begs questions. 

David Goffin, one of the breakthrough stars of the year - he reached the fourth and third rounds at Roland Garros and Wimbledon respectively in his first appearances - is more than capable of taking advantage. 

The 56th ranked Belgian is a star of the future and could start his rise to the top in earnest at New York. The European player is definitely worth a bet on US Open 2012, for supporters thinking of betting on tennis, this summer.

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