Top Seeded Nadal Draws a Testy Bracket

US Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, August 27th, 2010
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafa Nadal has earned his ATP number one ranking and deserves to be the top seed in the 2010 U.S. Open, but international bookmakers see it differently. If you are a betting fan, you might be surprised to see that second seeded Roger Federer has used his new attacking style to win the favor of most bookmakers who list the Swiss as the early 5/2 favorite.

In fact, the bookmakers do not see Wimbledon and Paris champion Rafael Nadal as a clear second choice. Rafa and Rogers Cup Champion Andy Murray are both listed at 11/4. The Spaniard has only lost three matches since April, but apparently the bookmakers do not feel the hard court surface is suited for Nadal’s game.

Murray was having a terrible season until recently. After reaching the finals in Australia, Murray entered a prolonged slump. However, his resurgence on the hard courts in Toronto, where he claimed his only title of the year, and his play in Cincinnati last weekend were enough to convince bettors, the Scotsman is back. As the fourth seed, Murray and Nadal would collide in the semis if form holds, which seems unlikely.

If the bookmakers did not like Nadal’s chances before the draw, they certainly won’t like his chances after today’s release. His second round opponent will be Denis Istomin and then the Spainard will really have to turn on the gas. Possible matches with German Phillipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez, Ivan Ljubicic, David Ferrer, Ernests Gulbis, David Nalbandian and a probable quarterfinal match with rival Fernando Verdasco (8) await the top seed. This bracket is loaded with stumbling blocks and whoever emerges to the semis will have earned the berth.

Verdasco and Gulbis are listed at 66/1 by the bookies. The hot Argentine, David Nalbandian is listed at 20/1. Ferrer is listed at 150/1 while Kohlschreiber, Feliciano and Ljubicic are all 200/1.

The fourth seeded Murray’s bracket looks far easier. Tomas Berdych is seeded seventh and would be a likely quarterfinal opponent. Bookmakers list Berdych at 16/1. This bracket will be influenced by American John Isner’s health. He is slated to play but his ankle injury may force him out of the event. Another American, Sam Querrey, Spaniard Nicolas Almagro (200/1), Russian Mikhail Youth (200/1), Czech Radek Stepanek (200/1) and Tommy Robredo will all be shooting for the semifinal berth.

Third seeded Novak Djokovic (10/1) looks to have two relatively easy matches before he may well encounter surging American Mardy Fish (33/1). Fish has been in contention in every hard court tournament and beat Andy Murray in the semis last week to reach the finals. Other potential roadblocks for Djokovic are Marcos Baghdadis (50/1), 6th seed Nikolay Davydenko (33-1), Gael Monfils (100/1) and 9th seeded crowd favorite Andy Roddick (16/1).

Roddick will have big support from the normally boisterous New York fans. Last year Roddick was caught by surprise in an early match with John Isner. Roddick and Davydenko appear to be headed for a quarterfinal showdown, while Djokovic will probably meet Fish or Baghdatis in his quarterfinal match.

Second seeded Federer (5/2) has some power ball players in his quarter bracket. Fifth seed Robin Soderling (16/1) leads the list but Marin Cilic (66/1), Albert Montanes (200/1), Jurgen Melzer (200/1), Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt (100/1) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (200/1) have all had their share of success this season.

Lately, opponent’s have capitalized on Soderling’s weak backhand and his lack of foot speed to contain the Swede. Cilic is a rising star, but after an early season run did not fare well on either the clay or grass. At 66/1, the young Croatian is a formidable competitior with all the tools.

Unfortunately, defending champ Juan Martin Del Potro has not sufficiently recovered from his early season wrist injury. The tour will welcome the multi-talented Argentine back.

Despite Federer’s favored odds, this field contains many streaky players who are capable of running three or four wins. However, two weeks of heavy media coverage and winning seven straight matches is man’s work. We think Andy Murray will make it to the finals and top Djokovic to claim the Open title.


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