US Open 2011: Day 2 Preview
August 30, 2011 · Print This Article
After a stormy weekend in New York, bright sunshine greeted players and spectators alike at Flushing Meadows on Day 1 of the 2011 US Open. But the news wasn’t so sunny for Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the Czech bundled out of the tournament in straight sets by Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru.
Day 1 Recap
After Kvitova’s shock loss, another major upset was looming in the women’s tournament when Maria Sharapova lost the opening set to Heather Watson. But the experienced Russian gritted her teeth and ground out a hard-fought 3 set victory to keep her Open chances alive. Having an easier time of it was second seed Vera Zvonareva, who cruised into the second round in straight sets along with Marion Bartoli and Venus Williams.
Aussie Sam Stosur also enjoyed a straight sets win, while Agnieszka Radwanksa got the better of her sister Urszula. Among the seeds forced to 3 sets were Lucie Safarova, Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko, all of whom managed to find success in the deciding set.
In the men’s tournament, Roger Federer got his campaign off to a positive start with a routine victory over Santiago Giraldo, while Gael Monfils was impressive in dispatching the dangerous Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. Earlier on Centre Court, American Mardy Fish lived up to his billing as the highest ranked local player with a dominant display against Tobias Kamke, the eighth seed dropping just 5 games against the German. Also progressing with ease was Alexandr Dolgopolov, Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Marin Cilic (who enjoyed a good win over young gun Ryan Harrison) and teenager Bernard Tomic in 3.
The biggest upset on the men’s side on Day 1 was the defeat of fifteenth seed Viktor Troicki at the hands of the Colombian Falla. While that 5-setter was a contender for match of the day, the Frenchman Llodra’s 5 set win over Victor Hanescu won out in my book. And in a feel good story for Day 1, it was pleasing to see injury-plagued veteran Tommy Haas record a win in what could well be the final US Open for the former world number two.
Matches of the Day – Day 2
1. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Yen-Hsun Lu
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has never produced his best tennis at Flushing Meadows, which is surprising given that the quick hard-courts are well-suited to his game. Perhaps this is the year that the Frenchman makes his mark at the US Open. The eleventh seed is in good form of late, making the Wimbledon semi-finals and knocking out Federer in Montreal a couple of weeks ago.
Lu is a steady player who defeated Andy Roddick at Wimbledon last year en route to reaching the quarter-finals. He’s a good mover, but I don’t think Lu possesses the kind of firepower to trade blows with the energetic Frenchman. Tsonga in 3.
2. Jarkko Nieminen vs. Fernando Verdasco
Finnish veteran Jarrko Nieminen doesn’t represent the same kind of threat on the tennis court that he did a few years ago, when his awkward lefty game posed serious problems for some of the world’s best players. Nieminen is still a decent player, but he hasn’t been able to produce his best tennis against the top players in the last couple of seasons.
Similarly, Fernando Verdasco hasn’t been able to reproduce the kind of tennis he exhibited during his breakout season of 2009, when he rocketed into the world’s top 10, but the Spaniard is still playing some good tennis on tour and is managing to hover in and around the world’s top 20. As both players are left-handers, no advantage will be given to either player on that basis, but Verdasco’s ballistic forehand and superb fitness should get him over the line. Verdasco in 4.
3. Shahar Peer vs. Sania Mirza
Once considered the most popular sportswoman in India, Sania Mirza’s tennis has rarely been able to live up to the hype generated around her in her home country. Although Mirza is a very good doubles player, she has never been able to establish herself as an elite singles player, despite showing glimpses of her talent from time to time.
Shahar Peer, on the other hand, has been a consistent performer over many years and has produced some good tennis at the US Open in the past. Mirza has more of an all-court game and better volleys, but Peer is the more consistent of the pair from the baseline. Peer in 2.
4. Nikolay Davydenko vs. Ivan Dodig
Injuries and old age have conspired to slow down Nikolay Davydenko, who for many years was one of the ATP Tour’s best movers and most consistent players. For the first time in many years, Davydenko enters the US Open unseeded, as the Russian battles to fight his way back into the world’s top 30.
Davydenko faces Croat Ivan Dodig in this opening round clash, the improving Croat seeded thirty-second and just one of many Balkans players who is following in Novak Djokovic’s footsteps and making a mark on the ATP Tour. If Davydenko is fit enough, I think he can cause an upset in this encounter. Davydenko in 5.
5. Mikhail Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis
Russian sixteenth seed Mikhail Youzhny has enjoyed his greatest Grand Slam success here in New York, twice making the US Open semi-finals. The Russian’s reliable game has held him in good stead at a tournament where players have to endure the whole spectrum of playing conditions. But this will be a tricky match for Youzhny, as he is up against the unpredictable Latvian, Ernests Gulbis.
Gulbis, who has an unquestionably high amount of talent and potential, is about as erratic a professional tennis player as you will ever see. The Latvian has endured a horror run of opening round losses in Grand Slams, and has endured a generally poor 2011 season, yet after losing 5 matches in a row Gulbis managed to work his way through qualifying and win his second career title in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, defeating Juan Martin Del Potro and Mardy Fish among others. Gulbis could do anything in this match, but my money is on the more consistent Youzhny. Youzhny in 4.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.
Tom Cochrane will be covering the US Open live from New York for TennisConnected throughout the two week tournament. You can follow him on Twitter @thesatelliteserve.