It is late August 2017, the tennis season is a 3/4 to it end. If you are interested in consulting some kind of crystal ball on the seriously prospective mens' champions of the very last grand slam of the year, this is the article for you.
A very brief recap...
Photo credit: Euro Sport
The tennis season of 2017 has so far been spectacular, surreal and reinvigorating all at once. Having pondered this for a while, we still cannot determine if the stunts of the season are more significant for their anachronistic bizarreness, or the fantastical back-to-back straight-sets win of the Rolland Garros and Wimbledon tournaments by Nadal and Federer respectively. Whatever it is, 2017 was another of the Federer-Nadal years - the last one having been 2010. Hammered between the glorious takings of all three grand slam titles by Federer and Nadal, are a few players whom show remarkable promise this year so far despite not winning the ultimate prize. Such promising performances, despite the odds, stand these players a chance of winning the US Open title next month. For the sake of maintaining the readable length of this article, we will shortlist of such players, ranked by order of their chance at seizing the trophy.
Here we go...
Roger Federer (1)
Photo credit: The New York Times
That would be a joke, if I won three slams this year out of nowhere**- Roger Federer**
Right on our list of most probable US Open winners, is the champion of 2 out of 3 grand slams so far this year. His remark on his chances of winning a 3rd, we believe, is not a actual reflection of his innermost calculations on such chances, but well... a perfunctory display of modesty. One needs to be media-savvy after reaching a certain amount of fan, doesn't he? It still beggars belief that (his French Open withdrawal notwithstanding) his pre-US Open 2017 season could have been the best ever. For his only two losses before Wimbledon - against Donskoy at Dubai and Tommy Haas at Stuttgart - he held match points against them. For the match loss against Zverev, it could be largely attributed to the back injury which is the reason for his absence from Cincinnati.
When the facts change, I change my mind**- John Maynard Keynes**
Facts are king indeed. Following this golden rule, we reckon that Federer would most likely be the champion of the US Open. The (statistical) odds are in his favour, the numbers are clearly showing that the number of years in his age are not going to be a factor of constraint in his winning capabilities. 'Granddad' is not going away.
Rafael Nadal (2)
Photo credit: Euro Sport
Being No. 1 after all the things that I have been going through the last couple of years is something unbelievable**- Rafael Nadal**
Our choice of the current world number one as the second most likely champion of the US Open championships would, we imagine, spark some interesting controversy. The decision would be one that seems intuitive to the more brisk tennis followers, and strike the more religious ones as odd. The choice indeed is a tricky one for us, since although Nadal pulled off an amazing comeback this year with the Australian Open runner-up position and his winning of the Rolland Garros in straight sets, Nadal's performance in all the other non-clay tournaments was way short of what you would call inspiring. We refuse to count Nadal out on the basis of such a calculation: because Nadal has historically performed well on the hard courts of the US Open - reaching the semifinals of every single one (if you do not count the 2015 and 2016 during which he suffered a general lack of form). Stay tuned folks, this US Open for Nadal would be more 2013 than 2015 (or 2016).
Nick Kyrgios (3)
Photo credit: Euro Sport
Tennis is just a game... don't want to take it so seriously**- Nick Kyrgios**
Despicably pounced upon by certain tabloid newspapers in a brazen display of commercial vilification, for the remark of his as shown above, Nick Kyrgois remains blithely relentless as usual - only focused on the goods to be gained ahead of him. What many people do not understand is that the punk irreverence we see in this Aussie 'nextgen' (we reckon) is not merely a matter of style, it is a window to and reflection of his raw talent, and competition philosophy. If you make it into the top 100 ATP rankings you are almost definitely a tennis talent, but some blokes are more talented than the rest. Some may dispute this, but we believe that structure and decorum if taken too far, are inimical to one's 'raw-talent' capabilities. Krygois is just one example (we must emphasize again, that this is only an opinion of ours), of a bloke who has performed exceedingly well as a result of his doing away with the energy and attention most other people feel obliged to give to following some convention(s). He is completely in his element, he is more zen than Mr Calm Roger Federer, and has performed well in the matches he did not retire from or cancel. I mean, he was 2 points way from sealing the match against Federer in the Miami semifinals! Keep your eyes on this young gun mates, he might just be the next big shocker!
Alexander Zverev Jr (4)
Photo credit: Inquirer Sports
He has what it takes to be one of the greats**- John Isner**
Expectations weigh heavily on this young one. In fact, if this article would be co-written by the entire world of tennis, Zverev would most likely be above Kyrgios in this ranking of most likely US open champions. Mannerisms apart, Zverev has performed more consistently than the Aussie in this year so far. However, even though the usual statistics is one factor in our calculations (of which consistency in match completions is a major element - Kygrios has not scored well on this front given his string of mach retirements and cancellations), the 'fundamentals' of each player is also very important. In terms of fundamentals, Kyrgios and Zverev are of very much equal measure - they are about the same in terms of the quality of their competitive play. Alexander Zverev Jr has won two ATP 1000 Masters tournaments this year against the greatest and fourth-greatest tennis players of all time, at the Montreal Masters and Rome Masters respectively. Such wins vault him into a position a far cry away from the (relatively, we must emphasize) sordid state in which he was in at the Australian Open of last year, during which he beared the appearance of a half-awake teenager sloppily losing to Andy Murray in straight sets. Such wins are significant because they demonstrate how fast this youngster can improve in such a short span of time. Who knows? The US Open 2017 mens' singles trophy might just be his.
P.S. You may wonder, if Zverev and Kygrios are equally skilled and promising, why is Zverev beneath Kyrgios in the rankings. The differentiating factor is Kyrgios' ability to withstand pressure.
Grigor Dimitrov (5)
Photo credit: Daily Mail
I won Wimbledon nine years ago. As a junior, though. Well, my goal is to win Wimbledon now.- Grigor Dimitrov
As mentioned in the section on Zverev, statistics are not everything, and it is for such that Grigor Dimitrov could be featured here. Amusingly christened the 'Baby Federer', he has not yet played up to the momentousness of the second word in such a nickname. The statistical odds are indeed against his favour - reach a grand slam final first before you even dream of imagining your name appearing on such a list, some would say. True, the quality of his competitive play is much less consistent than his swagger, and he is what many of us would call an 'on-and-off' player. But we must keep in mind that this article is about the players most likely to win this US Open - consistency in a player's performance is not really a factor here, if not Kyrgrios and Zverev would not be listed. Grigor Dimitrov has had his moments - he played exceptionally well at the 2014 Wimbledon championships and the 2017 Australian Open championships. His win at the recently completed Cincinnati Open might just be that sign that yet another of such moments has arrived. Hold on with Dimitrov folks, with the US Open only around the corner, there is not much time available in between for such momentum to run out.
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