Monday, August 31, 2009

Predicting the US Open Tennis Event

This morning the 2009 US Open Tennis Tournament kicks off in Flushing Meadows, New York. The two week long event, last of the four majors, features the strongest field of competitors this season.

Accordingly, I thought it would be fun to wage a friendly competition to predict how the players will fare. The writer, yours truly, has thrown the gauntlet down to two others to see who has a greater handle on the match-ups, trends and ultimately the projected outcome. I will battle against two tough opponents: 1)an expert in the field, my club's USTA tennis professional and 2) our cat, who you will see has an obvious affinity to tennis.

This friendly competition will be broken into two rounds. Today, the contestants will predict the players who will advance to the Round of 16 and then, in a week, they will predict how the actual round of 16 participants will fare over the balance of the tournament.

The Contestants:

Jason Michael- Jason has been a USTA tennis professional for almost a decade, following a successful college career at Indiana University. He also continues to compete on the court in a couple leagues, is an avid follower of the pro circuit (has played against a couple of the players on the tour) and, importantly, also has a cat, so he understands the challenge ahead. Jason will use his expertise, experience and gut instincts to assess the field, evaluate match-ups and make his predictions.

Adidas the Cat- Adidas' name itself links her to the tennis world and she is subjected to a great deal of second hand tennis smoke as she is surrounded by a household of tennis enthusiasts. Adidas' methodology is slightly unique as she uses a combination of brand loyalty (she unabashedly favors players wearing her namesake attire) and some innate cat tuition to forecast winners.

The Writer- My goals are to not get embarrassed by Jason and to achieve greater accuracy than that attained by our cat's unconventional methodology.

The Stakes

In an attempt to be non-discriminating to all, the prize has been set as one pouch of Starkist Light Albacore Tuna.

The Picks

All three contestants picked Djokovic, Roddick, Tsonga, Gonzalez, Nadal and Murray to advance to the round of 16 on the Men's side. On the Women's side, the common picks to advance were Safina, Jankovic, Dementieva, Petrova, Wozniacki, Clijsters and Venus. Please see the sidebar below "Blog Archive" for the full list of picks.

Jason's Other Predictions

Men's Draw

Champion- Federer will win his 6th consecutive US Open

Could Challenge- Murray, Del Potro (Could be their year to break through)

Roddick- Doomed by difficult draw

Querry- Could fare the best of Americans (might meet Federer in semi's)

Possible Upsets- Karlovic over Murray, Isner over Roddick (might blink and miss points due to big serves)

Dark Horse- Philip Kohlschreiber (Playing great with favorable draw)

Could Make Some Noise- Sela (will upset 1-2), Mathieu (nice run until he meets Fed)

Women's Draw

Champion- Venus Williams' (Fast surface further enhances her power game)

Could Challenge- Kuznetsova, Hantuchova, Safina (Have the game to win)

Williams Sisters- Will not meet in semi's as anticipated

Dark Horses- Lisicki (Hard courts good for huge serve), Clijsters (Starting to get her groove back)

Could Make Some Noise- Azarenka, Pennetta (Both have had a good summer and could turn heads)

Sharapova- Will not have enough to get by Dementieva

Americans- None will advance past the 2nd round other than the Williams' sisters

Although, many of the favorites will progress through as expected, upsets are always part of the majors. Federer has to be the favorite on the men's side coming in with 5 consecutive titles at Flushing Meadows, but Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Roddick could conceivably overtake him. It is even more wide open on the women's side. It should be an entertaining two weeks of tennis.