Inside the 2010 U.S. Open

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 23, 2010

Author’s note: Beth Donelson helped with this article with her observation. Ms. Donelson is the author of the first and still best book on Andy Roddick and she still keeps tab on Tennis.

IOWA CITY (BASN) — Next week, I will be at my usual pilgrimage to the U.S. Tennis Open. For two days, I will be watching first round actions with author Beth Donelson and my wife, Janice as I will get a close look at the contenders and pretenders.

What makes this most interesting is for American tennis fans, this summer saw for the first time in years, if not decades that an American male tennis player failed to make the top ten.

To be fair, Andy Roddick suffered from mono all summer and this cost him dearly and after Cincinnati, he roared back in the top ten. This past week in Cincinnati, Roddick showed some of the old form against Novak Djokovic, as he pounded the number three Tennis player in the world but against his old friend, Mardy Fish, he ran out of gas in a three set match that saw Fish take control over Roddick.

Roddick is the American male hope but he has not won a major since 2003.

Among other male hopefuls, John Isner is doubtful due to ankle injuries but Mardy Fish has had a great summer of action as he retooled his game and two victories over Roddick this summer shows that he has the potential to go deep.

The other American who might have a shot at a long run is Sam Querrey. Beth Donelson, co author of the book, Coming of Age, Andy Roddick Breakthrough Year, talked about her own choices.

As for Roddick, she stated, “I will admit this probably more a sentimental pick than anything else but I do think he has a chance. He loves New York and New York loves him.”

As for the other Americans, “Mardy Fish has had a good summer, beaten Roddick twice and Murray three times…I don’t think Fish will win but he can cause major upsets and do deep in the draw. Querrey is being Querrey.”

“He won Los Angeles but lost early in Toronto and Cincinnati. A friend of mine stated, Querrey will be good when he decides to be but he hasn’t decided to be good yet.”

As for the men, this Open is rather an open event. In the past, it was Roger Federer followed by Rafel Nadal followed by the field. From 2004 to 2009, Federer was the face of Tennis with only Nadal seriously challenging him but this year, crack in the Federer armor has shown up.

Federer is now 29, an age in which Tennis stars start to lose their edge and with the younger Nadal nipping at his heel, Federer is no longer the sure thing.

On Federer, Beth Donelson noted, “He did win Cincinnati but I don’t know if I would put much stock in it because he got a bye in the first round, an opponent retiring in the second and a walkover in the third. He played well in Toronto but lost to Andy Murray”…

“But this is Roger Federer…How many times in the last two years has people written him off only for him to come back and win yet another major.” As for Nadal, Beth Donelson stated, “He never played well at the US Open and never been to the final here. His spins don’t penetrate the court on the hard courts as the do on clay or grass.”

Dojovak and Scotland Andy Murray are the two major challengers behind Nadal and Dojovak. Murray has yet to win a major and Dojovak has only won one major and that was the Australian in 2008.

Both have the talent to make a run at the final and even win it.

On Murray, Beth Donelson joked, “I kinda hope he wins just for his own mental health and the mental health of Great Britain. British Tennis fans remind of Cubs fans, forever making excuses for why their top player can’t win a major.”

“And it has almost been as long the last time a British player won a major.” She added, “Murray has the tendency to play passively and wait for his opponent to make mistakes. You can’t do that in a major and win.”

Beth Donelson added that Dojovak doesn’t play well in heat and it will be hot in New York. Others to watch include Robin Soderling, Tomas Berdych and Marcos Baghdatisis.

She stated, “Berdych has always been a top talent but wasn’t until this year did he really start to show it… Marchos can be hot and cold and right now he is hot”…

“Robin Soderling has a huge game but he also has a back swing on his forehand (his main shot. That means he needs more time to set up his shot and playing on hard courts doesn’t give him time to do that because the surface is too fast.”

As for the women, American Tennis can be defined by two words: Williams sisters.

Unfortunately, Serena is not playing this year due to foot injuries and Venus has not won a major in two years. Serena is still the Queen of the court but Venus is now 30 and at times shows that she has become mortal.

The two sisters have won 20 majors since 1998 and dominated the courts but we may at the end of an era as the Williams approaches the golden age for women tennis players.

There are others to view but this is as open an Open as we have seen with no clear favorites and plenty of choices among the top ten if not top fifteen. On Venus Williams, Beth Donelson stated, “She hasn’t played well all summer because of a nagging knee injury but who really knows how bad it actually is.”

“This is Venus’ last best chance to win the Open. She’s 30 and hasn’t won a major except for Wimbledon since 2001 so it’s kind of now or never.” Beyond Venus, there are no other Americans ready to challenge the title.

Beth Donelson views Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Sventlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniaki as serious contenders to win the US Open. “Kim Clijsters is the defending Champion and she’s won here twice.

She won in Cincinnati and would likely have won at Montreal but she injured her hip. She is the favorite but it all depends upon her hip.”

As for Sharapova, “She’s finally seems to have found her winning form again. She had a good summer, reaching two finals.” Beth Donelson noted about Wozniaki, “She’s going be the number one seed.

She’s a steady player and who does everything well but I don’t think she has that one special weapon of the other top players.” Beth Donelson viewed Kuznetsova as an up and down player, “but she is a former champion. So we have to put her as a possibility in the winner’s circle. “

This Open could be one with many twists and turn with the unexpected being the expected. Serena’s injury makes the Women wide open with anyone and everyone in the top ten the favorite plus a dark horse ready to make a run.

As for the men, Federer continues his assault on the record books but he is not longer Automatic Roger when it comes to being a major finalist. New York’s hard court is not Nadal best surface but Murray and Dojovak are still a step behind the top two players.

Dark horse candidates include Roddick, David Nalbandian and Mardy Fish but this is still Federer’s world and others are sill participants but we are close to the end of the Federer era. His biggest challenge has come from Nadal over past three years while others played mere supporting role for the Federer era.

The two best players presently are Federer and Serena Williams for when they walk on the court in a major during the first round; it is usually them against the field. With Serena out, the field has been given an opportunity including Serena’s elder sister.

Federer is still the favorite to win the Men’s but this year the difference between Federer and the field has narrowed. He’s not the automatic choice to win the Open, only the more logical choice based on his past performance.