US OPEN 2011 - Men's Singles
The US Open 2011 takes place at the USTA Billie jean King Tennis Centre, Flushing Meadow, New York from 29th August - 11th September, where temperatures can reach 100+ degrees!
This year has all been about Djokovic and his march towards the world number one spot.
Can anybody stop the Serbian in his quest to win his third major crown?
Novak Djokovic- For someone who looked destined to live in the shadows of Federer and Nadal, the new world number one has shocked everyone -including himself! He has only two defeats this season, one to Federer in the French Open and the other was a retirement to Murray last week. Although this shoulder injury was worryingly close to the US Open, he should recover in time to contend this week.
Rafa Nadal- He seems to have slipped down a gear from his status before his long injury lay-off. Definitely has an easier route to the semi-finals than that of his main rivals -where he could meet Murray for a place in the final. It could come down to the playing conditions and if they suit his game -they didn't at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and he was a little fortunate to win one of those majors.
Andy Murray- Can He Win His First Major?
Whilst we all hope that Murray can fulfill his undoubted potential and win a major, the Great British public often have a tendency to back their own into far too short a price.
The seeding commitee have placed him at number four -which means he may well have to beat Lopez, Warinka, Soderling and Nadal in order to set up a final with a certain Novak Djokovic!
So just what are the positives and negatives for the Scot...
Fitness - Over the last year Murray has worked on this part of his game more than any other. Back in 2006, there were numerous calls for him to improve his physical conditioning after he complained of fatigue. If you saw the recent game against Djokovic in Cincinattii, it was the Serb that was blowing hardest after the long rallies.
Attitude - Both his on-court ad off-court demeanour have improved in tandem with his results, maybe ths is because he is not as frustrated by his play?
We often forget that the young Scot is only 23 and that he has been a top-ten player for over 24 months now. He may have developed at a slightly slower pace than close rivals Nadal & Djokovic, but he is now close to matching and maybe even surpassing them.
Court Craft - Murray has admitted that he doesn't have the power of some of those on tour, so he has to use guile rather than brute strength. This means employing the sliced backhand, rather than the over-used drop shot that drew criticism from the likes of John McEnroe. He seems to be learning to use it more sparingly and also how to construct points that play on his opponents' weaknesses.
Injuries - In last year's run-up to Wimbledon, Murray got the tag of being injury-prone -by seeming to pull out with the slightest niggle. There are doubts over both his back and ankle, and playing on hard courts does nothing to help.
Added to this is the possibility of five set matches on consecutive days -this gives little chance for a bad back to heal.
Service - Whilst it certainly has improved, his service can still be a weak spot for Murray -more so the second serve which can allow a great returner to dictate the point from the beginning.
Lack Of A Big Shot -Although he stands at six feet three inches and weighs in at around 175 lbs (80 kg), by no means is he a 'power' hitter -in spite of taking great delight in showing us his muscles at Wimbledon last year!
You really don't see him hit that many outright winners -more often he grinds his opponents down and forces mistakes (a crueller person might call him a hacker...).
Update -As the tournament progresses, we'll be constantly updating both the outright and specials spread markets and the relative chances of each of the major contenders playing at Flushing Meadows