Well he's entitled to his opinion
Breaking down the U.S. Open draw
Posted: Thursday August 22, 2002 3:31 PM
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim peers into his crystal ball to reveal the fate of the top 16 men's and women's seeds for the U.S. Open. Scroll down to see the first-round matches you shouldn't miss, some darkhorse candidates to advance to Week 2, and his championship predictions.
MEN'S REPORT | Women's Report
1. Lleyton Hewitt: Ordinarily, one would think his bush-league feud with the ATP would detract from his focus, but this is a player who uses discord as fuel. Even so, he has a brutal draw that likely has him facing James Blake in Round 3, Richard Krajicek in Round 4 and Andre Agassi in the semis.
2. Marat Safin: Where is his head? The answer is the difference between running the table and falling to Nicolas Kiefer in his first match.
3. Tommy Haas: He's due for a breakout and men's tennis is due for a human-interest story to compete with the women's. How's this? With his parents still recovering from a harrowing motorcycle accident, übertalented Tommy Boy finds extra motivation to win his first Slam. The tender shoulder is a concern, though.
4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov: A good argument for subjective seeding. "Why? Man" tends to bring his A game to majors, but let's face facts: He has lost three straight matches coming in and he hasn't won more than two rounds at a Slam this year. Get thee to a sports book and bet the farm Jarkko Nieminen gets him in Round 2.
5. Tim Henman: Has the game, but does he have the bloody bottles? Crumpet of a draw has him playing no top-50 opponent until Round 3.
6. Andre Agassi: After a chart-topping early spring, the hits have been few and far between for Dr. 'Dre. Couldn't ask for a better draw. At least until he faces Carlos Moya in Round 4.
7. Juan Carlos Ferrero: The King can play on the hard stuff, but a nasty draw has him facing giant-killer Wayne Arthurs off the bat.
8. Albert Costa: Weird Al has disappeared since winning the French. Plus, he has a 4-7 career record in Queens.
9. Carlos Moya: Cincy winner has some momentum. If his body holds up, look for him in the second week. Fourth-rounder against Agassi could be hermosa.
10. Sebastien Grosjean: Footspeed and consistency should serve him well on concrete, but his act has never played particularly well at Flushing Meadows.
11. Andy Roddick: Despite cracking the top 10, there's a nagging sense that Roddick has backslid this year, mostly because of his mediocre Slam results. A good performance here would erase this perception, and his draw certainly cooperates. Helmets should be required for his second-rounder against Taylor Dent. If Roddick wins that one (and he should), look out.
12. Thomas Johannson: Aussie Open champ withdrew because of injury.
13. Roger Federer: Overdue for a good showing at a Slam. One of the tour's bright lights, he hasn't won a solitary set at a Slam since Australia and is still grieving for his mentor, Peter Carter, tragically killed in an auto accident last month.
14. Jiri Novak: Often overlooked but often reaches second week. Still, we can't help think Richard Krajicek gets him in Round 1.
15. Guillermo Cañas: Even before Toronto, we knew he could play on hard courts. A likely quarterfinalist.
16. David Nalbandian: Nalbandian the Andean has gone Costa on us since Wimbledon. Little reason to expect a reemergence anytime soon.
17. Pete Sampras: Your eyes aren't deceiving you: The greatest ever is seeded lower than someone named Nalbandian. But as he puts it, "You have to remember who I am and where I'm playing. ... The U.S. Open is where you shine and that is where I hope to shine." Uh, OK.
LOWER SEEDS WORTH WATCHING
19. Xavier Malisse: Dangerous, wildly talented player -- provided he doesn't push the panic button. A fairly benign draw doesn't hurt, either.
25. James Blake: All aboard the JB bandwagon. What a boost it would be for men's tennis if he made a run into the second week -- to say nothing of winning the whole enchilada. May well play Hewitt in Round 3. (Watch out for those foot faults.)
28. Fernando Gonzalez: The best player you've never seen. Behind blistering strokes, he has already beaten Carlos Moya, Sampras, Henman and Roddick this year.
30. Andrei Pavel: No threat to win, but a player no one much wants to face.
32. Max Mirnyi: Results have tailed off, but serve always makes him a threat.
33. Greg Rusedski: Can he beat Hewitt twice in three weeks? Says the Grinning One: "In the past 12 days I've won a tournament and beaten the top three players in the world, so I have to think that not too many people will want to see my name in the first round of the U.S. Open."
Wayne Arthurs: When he beats Ferrero off the bat, you can say you saw it here first.
Jarkko Nieminen: Likely to oust Kafelnikov in Round 2.
Richard Krajicek: For a guy all but consigned to retirement, he's been awfully good this summer
FIRST-ROUND MATCHES TO WATCH
Ferrero vs. Arthurs: Can Australian giant killer strike again?
Olivier Rochus vs. Hicham Arazi: Two of the tour's better shotmakers in the Randy Newman special.
Safin vs. Nicolas Kiefer: Head-case special.
Julien Boutter vs. Gustavo Kuerten: Frenchman has a 2-0 lifetime record against Kuerten -- and that's when Guga's been healthy.
Costa vs. Magnus Norman: Beating the French Open champ would be real boost to Norman, a former top-five player.
Mark Philippoussis vs. Sjeng Schalken: Can they replicate their classic confrontation from Wimbledon 2000?
No. 22 Marcelo Rios vs. Jonas Bjorkman: Turn-back-the-clock night.
Semifinals: Hewitt vs. Agassi; Haas vs. Fernando Gonzalez
Final: Hewitt vs. Haas