US Open 2015 Predictions

By Ros Satar, Phil James, Niall Clarke & Glenys Furness

Our tennis journalists have got together and spent hours analysing every detail of the draw, and generally after wringing their hands in unproductive dismay, they wrote some words and came up with their US Open 2015 predictions:

  Champion Early Exit Dark Horse Britwatch
Ros Satar Novak Djokovic

Serena Williams

Rafael Nadal

Maria Sharapova

Borna Coric

Belinda Bencic

Murray – SF

Bedene – R4

Ward – R1

Watson – R3

Konta – R3

Robson – R2

Phil James Novak Djokovic

Serena Williams

Gael Monfils

Genie Bouchard

Ernests Gulbis

Belinda Bencic

Murray – F

Bedene – R1

Ward – R1

Watson – R4

Konta – R2

Robson – R2

Niall Clarke Novak Djokovic

Serena Williams

Kei Nishikori

Carla Suarez Navarro

Gael Monfils

Belinda Bencic

Murray – QF

Bedene – R1

Ward – R1

Watson – R2

Konta – R2

Robson – R1

Glenys Furness Andy Murray

Serena Williams

Stan Wawrinka

Genie Bouchard

Rafael Nadal

Simona Halep

Murray – Title

Bedene – R2

Ward – R1

Watson – R3

Konta – R1

Robson – R1

 

Ros Satar

 

Men’s champion: Novak Djokovic

Despite his US Masters wobbles, he is still far and away the strongest competitor, on courts that suit his style, and he will want to at least come away with three-quarters of the sport’s most glittering prize – a Career Grand Slam. He does have a lot of work to do though, but then again he has to win 7 matches in two weeks and they don’t all have to be pretty! I think when the chips are down, he will find a way to prove once more that he is the world’s best player.

Early Exit: Rafael Nadal

Well in all honestly will it be a shock if Nadal goes out earlier than we expect this year? Probably not, and the big names all think this is just a blip for him as he regains his form of previous years. But while he grapples with his confidence for a while I think he will be the biggest ‘name’ to fall, but not necessarily the biggest shock.

Dark Horse: Borna Coric

Whilst I would love to pluck fourth seed Kei Nishikori out to shock everyone, he has struggled with injuries once more. OK so last year he had missed a lot of the US Open Series with an infected big toe and then pulled that run out of the bag, but I doubt lightning will strike twice. So who of the “Generation Lost Boys” will make the run?

If Coric stuns Nadal in the opening round, the young Croatian could head off on a tilt. He still has a lot to polish to his game for sure, but he is fearless and not afraid to bash away.

 

Women’s champion: Serena Williams

It really is hard to see anyone beating her, especially after the way she grafted in Cincinnati. She grappled with the weight of expectation during Wimbledon as ‘Serena-Slam 2.0’ was looming, and she will probably not want to be constantly reminded of the prospect of being the first woman since Steffi Graf to achieve all four majors in the year, not to mention equalling her 22 Slam titles.

Early Exit: Maria Sharapova

Expect to see an out of sorts Maria Sharapova make an early exit. She has not hit a match ball since Wimbledon, and word is she’s still not 100% despite withdrawing before her opener at Cincinnati. The third seed is in Serena’s half of the draw, and it will open up.

Dark Horse: Belinda Bencic

Bencic has been proving that the junior hype can live up to the expectation, after claiming her first two titles this year, including the Premier in Toronto. She wisely retired in Cincinnati, to save herself to at least defend her run to the quarter-final last year, and she could go far further. Definitely one to watch.

Britwatch:

Andy Murray – Semi-Final: I hesitate to even type the words ‘hard draw’ as there is nothing that annoys me more than the agonised twitter wailing of how unfair his draw is. He himself joked about how it would be lamented that one minute he has a hard draw, the next a cakewalk. Knowing what we do about him, he will fight all the way through!

It starts with Nick Kyrgios, who he has handled with not much issue each time they have met in Slams, and could meet James Ward or Thomaz Bellucci in the third round. His fourth round opponent is likely to be Kevin Anderson once more, which sets him on a path with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka – himself a two-time Slam champion. This is likely to be a tough fight, and awaiting him after that is likely to be Roger Federer. Psychologically it would do wonders for him if he could win the battle of the Swiss twins but it might be a slice of holy cheese too far.

Aljaz Bedene – Round 4: We’re going to give Bedene the benefit of his recent form and that he might be able to shock Gilles Simon again, and with Viktor Troicki’s recent downturn in his form, Bedene might fancy his chances, but is likely to come to a halt at the hands of Wawrinka.

James Ward – Round 1: After his bonus run to the third round of Wimbledon, which put him in the Top 100 for the first time, it has been a worrying time for the Brit. He has not managed a win since, falling back to No. 134 in the world. Although Thomaz Bellucci can be inconsistent, it is hard not to see him having too much experience to handle Ward.

Heather Watson – Round 3: If she can overcome home favourite Lauren Davis in the opener, she will face Ekaterina Makarova, last year’s semi-finalist. Having made the Top 10 at the start of the year, she has slipped a little, and could be beatable, but it will be a tough ask for Watson, whose US campaign was not as strong as she would have liked. She might fancy her chances against Elina Svitolina in the third round but the Ukrainian has looked very strong this part of the hard court season and is match sharp.

Laura Robson – Round 2: Coming in using her Protected Ranking, she may consider herself fortunate that she faces a player who last won a match at the French Open. This is winnable for Robson, who is fighting her way back but is lacking that sharpness (understandably). Up next is Andrea Petkovic, who has been struggling with injury has started to pick up her form and will probably be just too much for a returning Robson.

Jo Konta – Round 3: In the same bracket as Robson, Konta is on a great winning streak – not having lost since Wimbledon, and picking up two ITF titles in the process as well as three wins on the bounce in US Open qualifying rounds. She could well pull off a surprise second round against Garbine Muguruza, who has struggled since her fantastic run to the Wimbledon final, but think that Petkovic in round three will be too much.

 

Phil James

Men’s champion – Novak Djokovic

When predicting Wimbledon where I was torn between Murray and Djokovic and it was the comparative ease of the Serb’s draw that swayed me.  Based, perhaps unfairly, on his two recent Masters final loses, I was ready to discount Djokovic and plump for Murray or Federer, until I made the mistake of analysing the draw again…. It’s just hard to see anyone stopping Djokovic before the final; Nadal, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic. For Murray the possible opponents seem much tougher; Wawrinka or Simon in the semi before Federer, the man who deposed him as world number two last week. For man from Switzerland, the potential banana skins include Philipp Kohlschreiber, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Tomas Berdych before the semi.

Maybe I’m being unfair, and it’s not the difficulty of the draw but Djokovic’s consistency of beating the lower ranked opponents compared to Murray and Federer’s occasional bad day at the office. The level of physicality has shown itself as a deciding factor in the big finals recently too. I am so tempted to predict the long awaited 18th grand slam for Federer, and if he gets a helpful draw then he’s my man. But I can’t see him beating Murray in a physical battle and then seeing off Djokovic in the final. So I‘m going for the world number one to return to form, if two Masters final loses can even be termed a dip in form!

Dark Horse: Ernests Gulbis

The big servers could do well at Flushing Meadows and I expect to see Anderson and Raonic to do well. But as seeds they’re not much of a dark horse so how about Gulbis? I’m hoping he exits in the first round to Britain’s Bedene but he had some great results in Montreal three weeks ago and took the first set off Djokovic. Let’s see if he can continue his return to something like living up to his potential.

Early Exit: Gael Monfils

The perennial unpredictable, underachiever, Monfils had disappointing showings in the Montreal and Cincinnati Masters and plays a qualifier in round one. If he’s not prepared, he could be packing his bags.

Britwatch:

Murray: Final
Bedene: Round 1
Ward: Round 1

Murray is in fine form with a title and a semi-final to take away from the last two Masters tournaments. It’ll be a great effort to get to the final, probably having to beat the two Swiss men, Wawrinka and Federer, against whom he has lost the last the last two and the last five matches respectively. After that, I don’t think he’ll have enough left in the tank to beat Djokovic. Bedene has been on fine form and if he beats my dark horse pick in round one he would probably then face Simon, against whom had that tremendous victory in Winston Salem last week.

I would love to see Ward show his talent on the big stage again, just as he did at Wimbledon two months ago. But since his five-set nail biting loss to Vasek Pospisil at SW19, he has gone on to lose a further six consecutive matches. Fingers crossed he can turn it around, for his sake and the British Davis Cup team!

 

Women’s champion: Serena Williams

There’s only two ways to look at this: The potential of the Career-Slam will a) focus Serena’s mind so that she doesn’t allow any mental slips or b) prove too much and she will lose a match she shouldn’t. I’m going with option A.

Dark Horse: Belinda Bencic

I’m sticking with my Wimbledon dark horse, predicting she will step it up a notch and face Serena in the quarters.

Early Exit: Genie Bouchard

Picking Bouchard as an early exit as become depressingly predictable now but until she show’s a sign of turning her form around, I’m sticking with a winning (losing) formula.

Britwatch:

Watson: Round 4
Robson: Round 2
Konta: Round 2

Scheduled to meet the 13th and then 17th seeds in rounds two and three, there’s no reason Heather Watson can’t reach the final 16 if she can produce her best form. Konta has been in great form recently, winning the singles and doubles title at the ITF $100k event in Vancouver before successfully qualifying for the US Open. She should have the ability to beat the American wildcard she faces in round one. Robson’s return from injury hasn’t been meteoric by any extent, but she finally showed some signs of form at the New Haven qualifiers last week. She won her first qualifying round match and was a set and a break up against Christina McHale in round two but couldn’t close it out.

 

Niall Clark

Men’s champion: Novak Djokovic:

Only Wawrinka has defeated the world number one in grand slam competition this year. It is hard to believe that Djokovic only has one US Open title to his name given his record on hard courts. It is hard seeing where he loses in a best of five match here unless we see a brilliant performance from a fellow contender.

Dark Horse: Gael Monfils:

He might be more known for his on court antics rather than his tennis, but Monfils is capable of playing great tennis. Arguably the best athlete on tour, Monfils is super quick around the court and very difficult to hit through. His section with Nishikori and Ferrer is good, so I expect Monfils to make it through this section and reach the last four.

Biggest shock: Kei Nishikori:

Last year’s finalist has been struggling with injuries recently so one must wonder if he is 100% heading in to the US Open. He has been drawn with Benoit Paire in round one which is a dangerous opponent to play, especially if you are injured. I believe it will be a tough tournament for the fourth seed

Britwatch:
Murray- Quarter Finals

Bedene- Round 1
Ward- Round 1

 

For Murray, I believe that he had drawn the hardest possible quarter final. Stan is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) hitter in the game who always up’s his level for the big events. Wawrinka likes these courts and beat Murray the last time they faced here in straight sets. Tough draw for Andy, and I see the Swiss dispatching the Brit.

Bedene has been dealt the ever enigmatic Gulbis in the first round. The Latvian has found form after a terrible start to the season so he should win this. But he could easily lose to Bedene.

Ward has not played well since Wimbledon and has been drawn with Bellucci in round one. I can’t see the Brit coming through this one but stranger things have happened.

Women’s champion: Serena Williams:

This one was a tough one for me. I feel that the world number one might be upset by a random floater just like at Wimbledon and Roland Garros last year, but then again who else do you see going all the way? It is hard seeing Williams losing here and a lack of a real title competitor means I have decided to go for the easy choice and predict Serena to complete the calendar year grand slam.

Dark Horse: Belinda Bencic:

The Swiss capped off a marvellous Toronto run by defeating Simona Halep in the final so we know she has what it takes to make serious headway in North America. Bencic made her breakthrough at this event last year by making the semi-finals, and the 18-year-old is in fantastic form heading in to the event this year. With some good play and a bit of luck, Bencic could repeat that success or maybe even go one or two steps further.

Biggest shock: Carla Suarez Navarro:

The Spaniard had an excellent start to the year, capped off by a run to the Rome final. However since clay season, the tenth seed has really struggled to pick up results so comes into the US Open in horrible form. Therefore I can see her heading for another early exit.

Britwatch:

Watson: Round 2
Robson: Round 1
Konta: Round 2

Watson faces Davis in round one who will competing in her home grand slam. It is a very winnable start for the British number one, but it is hard to see her going any further than round two where she will likely face Makarova.

In usual circumstances this would be a decent draw for Robson, but she is still not 100% after the long injury layoff. It will be nice to see her back in the main draw but a first round exit is most probable. If she gets through Vesnina then I doubt she can get past Petkovic or Caroline Garcia in round two.

Konta did well to make the main draw and has been given a good round one for a qualifier. Louisa Chirico did beat Watson in Stanford, but I see this as a very winnable match for the Brit. Round two against Muguruza or Carina Witthoeft is where her journey will likely end.

 

Glenys Furness

Men’s champion: Andy Murray

Although having a very tough draw, Murray has found great form of late, winning two masters events this year, including Montreal where he defeated Djokovic for the first time since winning Wimbledon two years ago. To win the title, if the matches go to seeding, the Brit will have to defeat three current Grand Slam holders from the QF onwards.

Biggest shock: Stan Wawrinka

This may seem a surprising pick, but the Swiss has been finding things a little difficult recently, since winning the French Open and with the highly publicised incident with Krygios, Wawrinka has found things a little hard going, this could impact onto his chances here, as the Swiss has gone out early before.

Dark Horse: Rafael Nadal

With his ranking having slipped due to injury, plus the fact the Spaniard has been struggling to find form coming back the odds are very much against Nadal taking the title. There are some potential upset matches along his route, but should he make it as far as the QF, Nadal would have to defeat Djokovic at this stage of the tournament.

Women’s champion: Serena Williams

It really is difficult to see beyond Williams for the title. Although having lost some matches in the build-up, the US Open is the final slam of the year, and if the American wins it, she will hold all four at the same time again.

Biggest shock: Genie Bouchard

Bouchard has not had a good year, and has lost early in other tournaments this season. Having recently hired Jimmy Connors as her temporary coach could either help her improve, or could be a repeat of his last venture into coaching. Either way I don’t see Bouchard progressing far at Flushing Meadows

Dark Horse – Simona Halep

Halep has been improving lately, after a poor start to the season. Playing well in the tournaments and reaching the final stages, there is no reason she can’t go all the way to the title.  The draw is not an easy one, but should things fall into place it could be the year for a new winner.

 

Britwatch:

Murray: Title – I’ve picked him as my champion, so obviously I believe he will make the final

Bedene: Round 2 – His first round match against Gulbis is quite a tricky one, but Bedene could win this depending on the form of his opponent.  I think Bedene will make R2 before going out

Ward: R1 – Bellucci will be a tough match for Ward, who has been struggling a little of late with form. With the Davis Cup approaching it would be an ideal opportunity for the Brit to gain some confidence with a victory, however, Ward will find this match difficult against the seeded player, and is likely to go out at this stage.

Watson: R3 – Heather will win her first round match, and could go into the second week, if she brings her Wimbledon run form to this slam, so I’m saying Heather to make round 3

Robson: R1 – Coming into the US Open with a protected ranking due to injury, and with a lack of match wins, this will be tricky for Laura.  I think she will unfortunately not progress passed the first round.

Konta: R1 – Coming in on a 13 match winning streak, Konta has played well leading up to this tournament, especially after winning in Canada. However, her first round match-up is very tricky and I don’t think she will progress to round 2.

The US Open starts on 31 August – and you can follow all the action live using Britwatch’s Live Tennis Scores.

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