PREVIEW: Canadians at the 2016 U.S. Open
How will Canada’s top tennis player fare at this year’s U.S. Open? I look at how they played in the tuneup events leading up to the final major of the year and also analyzed their draws.
MILOS RAONIC, 5th
Coming into the last slam of the year, Milos Raonic had some decent results from the U.S. Open Series tournaments. After a two week off, he played his first tournament since his Wimbledon final appearance in Toronto at the Rogers Cup. Raonic was the favourite to win the title because of his Wimbledon run and also due to a depleted field of players — Murray was out training for Rio, Nadal and Federer also were out citing injury. With that said, Raonic failed to capitalize the opportunity, losing to Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals. The Canadian then another two-week off since he withdrew from the Olympics. Raonic next played in the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati, where he had some nice results leading into the semifinals. Through the earlier round, he had a couple of medical timeouts for his hip. In the semis, he faced Andy Murray, who was the gold medalist in Rio. The Canadian continued to struggle against the Brit. He had some break points on Murray’s serve but failed to convert. In addition to that, Raonic had shaky service games during critical points of the match. The Canadian will play next week’s U.S. Open seeded fifth and one of the players outside the Big Four to capture the title.
Raonic will start his U.S. Open campaign with an interesting first round match against German Dustin Brown. The first round match is their first meeting. Brown is coming from a retirement in his first round match in Rio after injuring his ankle. He hasn’t played any tournament since then. With no idea how Brown has recovered from the injury, it is a favourable first round match for Raonic. Here are Raonic’s possible opponents for the next couple of rounds:
2nd round: Adrian Mannarino
3rd round: Benoit Paire
4th round: Gael Monfils
Quarterfinals: (4)Rafael Nadal
Semi-finals: (1)Novak Djokovic
Finals: (2)Andy Murray
The first challenge for Raonic will be in the 4th round against Gael Monfils. The Frenchman beat the Canadian in Toronto recently. However, Raonic beat Monfils in their only slam meeting at this year’s Australian Open. It wouldn’t get easier from there on as the next three possible opponents are members of the Big Four.
(Very BOLD) Prediction: Raonic wins U.S. Open
EUGENIE BOUCHARD, unseeded
On the women’s side, Eugenie Bouchard continues to have an up and down season so far. In some of her matches this season, Bouchard showed glimpses of the player she was two years ago. Her confidence or swagger seems to reflect her inconsistent results — sometimes it’s there but other times when she needs it, she couldn’t find it. Coming into the U.S. Open, Bouchard has played five tournaments — Washington, Montreal, Rio, Cincinnati, Connecticut. Out of the five, Bouchard was most successful in her hometown tournament — reaching the third round for the first time. In those five tournaments, she played a couple of solid games with her first serve the most improved. But what is lacking so far, is her mental toughness. In Montreal, she could have reached the quarterfinals if not for a breakdown. In Connecticut earlier this week, she was up a break, 3–1, in the first set against Petra Kvitova before another collapse in her game, losing the next nine games. If Bouchard wants to close the slam season on a high note, she needs to believe in herself and her game more this week in Flushing Meadows.
Bouchard is also coming to New York with a lawsuit against the U.S. Tennis Association looming over. Days before the U.S. Open, the USTA released a statement criticizing Bouchard for focusing on the lawsuit and not “playing to her best ability.” However, the USTA also said in the statement that the lawsuit will not affect how the Canadian would be treated this week. Bouchard suffered a concussion after falling in a dimly lit locker room. The injury led her to miss the Asian leg of the WTA. In regards to her draw, Bouchard has a favorable first few rounds. Considering that she is unseeded, she could have drawn a top seeded player as early in the first round. The Canadian will face 73rd rank Czech Katerina Siniakova. This is the first meeting between the two. Here are Bouchard’s possible opponents in the next rounds:
2nd round: Caroline Garcia
3rd round: (4) Agnieszka Radwanska
4th round: Timea Bacsinszky
Quarterfinals: (6)Venus Williams
Semi-finals: (1)Serena Williams
Finals: (2)Angelique Kerber
Bouchard can advance to the third round even with a second round match against the 25th seeded Garcia. The Canadian won their last meeting at the Australian Open. The real challenge for Bouchard starts in the third round where she will face fourth seed Radwanska. From there, the road to the finals won’t be any easier.
Prediction: Bouchard advances to the third round.
VASEK POSPISIL, unseeded
Vasek Pospisil hopes to get a good run at the U.S. Open this year to salvage a lackluster season so far. His rankings are down to 122nd which is reflective of too many early round exits from the Canadian. In tune-up events leading to the U.S. Open, he is 1–4(including Rio). Excluding Rogers Cup, Pospisil couldn’t move past the first round. After the Rogers Cup, he parted ways with his life long coach. However, he is going to play in New York without a coach.
Pospisil will start his campaign against lucky loser Jozef Kovalik. Their first round match will be their first meeting. Then it will be tougher for the Canadian from the next couple round — second round againstKevin Anderson in the second round, Jo Tsonga in the third, Marin Cilic in the fourth, and Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Pospisil will advance to the second round.
You can watch the Canadians and the top tennis players at the U.S. Open on TSN starting on Monday August 29. Find the schedule here.