Five Players Who Could Cause a Stir This US Open Coric Gulbis Monfils
The US Open spotlight may be taken up by the top three favourites but there are still plenty of opportunities for lesser known players to cause a stir in New York. The Tennis Review looks at five players who could steal a few headlines over the next two weeks.
Coric first hit the headlines back in Basel last season when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals in straight sets.
Tonight he has another chance to make his name known, but on an altogether grander scale -tennis does not get much grander than the US Open night match on Arthur Ashe versus Nadal.
The world’s highest ranked teen (world no. 33, one spot away from being seeded) will take on the struggling eighth seeded Nadal in what will be a baseline battle that could go Coric’s way. Coric’s solid backcourt game and willingness to take on the short ball could be Nadal’s undoing once more if he is out of sorts and his forehand is erratic and short.
If Coric wins, there will be some consolation to Nadal’s fans- the headlines will not focus on their favorite’s slump but instead on the man who would have punctuated it – his win in Basel a bold capital letter, a win in New York an exclamation mark.
At Halle this year Philipp Kohlschreiber pushed Roger Federer all the way to a final set tiebreaker. The German’s big ball striking pays off on all surfaces, and especially so on decoturf- the world no.29 has had his most consistent slam success there, reaching the fourth round the last three years.
Each of those fourth rounds has been reached with a defeat of John Isner in the third round. This year there would be another surreal moment if they were to meet in the fourth round, which could happen.
But it is a big could. If Kohlschreiber wants to make the fourth round for the fourth year in a row he would have to get past Federer.
The chances of that happening are low, but tennis is sport and anything can happen on the day. If Kohlschreiber, the recent Kitzbuhel champion, can push Federer to the brink on Halle’s grass, then why not Federer in New York? The Swiss is prone to bad days in slams and if it happens to be the day he meets Kohlschreiber the German could spoil what many believe will be Federer’s 18th slam winning party.
Monfils, with the shock upset of Kei Nishikori in his quarter, could find himself the main beneficiary.
The out of form David Ferrer is the seventh seed in that section of the draw and the erratic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is Monfils’ biggest obstacle in the third round.
Last year the Frenchman nearly caused sensational headlines when he held two match points against Roger Federer at the US Open in the last eight.
This year he could set himself up as the nearly man once more against the out of sorts Djokovic who has a very kind draw to the semis and might be a bit shell-shocked to come up against an intense, hungry Monfils in that round.
Monfils may be 0-11 versus the world no. 1, but he is most likely to cut down that deficit on fast hard courts. He pushed Djokovic to a third set tiebreaker at Toronto last year, and the Frenchman, who plays great fast court tennis, would have a real chance to pull an upset this year.
Most likely, it would be like so many of Monfils’ big chances- a wasted one. But who knows, the odds have to work in his favor one day, and if it happened this year, that would be a headline no one predicted.
A couple of weeks ago, Goffin led Djokovic 3-0 in the third in Cincinnati. The Belgian got there thanks to his shot-making talent on the court. Unfortunately for him, he did not get the win thanks to what goes on between his head.
Goffin, the 14th seed, could get another go at the vulnerable Djokovic in the US Open’s second week. His first round win was a breeze, and if he can conserve energy, go for broke and hold his nerve versus the world No.1 he might be able to settle some unfinished business.
Gulbis is the player on tour for whom headlines are just waiting to happen. The closest he has been to getting them in print was the French Open 2014. There, he upset Federer and then Berdych to make the last four where he went down in a bad tempered erratic performance to an out of sorts Djokovic.
Gulbis nearly hit the headlines again a few weeks back in Montreal when he held match points against the world no.1. Ranked in the mid 80s and on the back end of a dire slump, Gulbis’ close encounters with glory were a welcome in a game crying out for characters of the likes of the Latvian.
Gulbis has a tough draw at this year’s US Open with the recently inform Aljaz Bedene in his opening round and then a possible second round clash with Gilles Simon. If he could get past those rounds, and Troicki in the third, he could have a very winnable round of 16 match versus Stan Wawrinka.
Things could go either way with Gulbis- a first round defeat or some stunning performances in a deep run. We’re hoping the Latvian’s fortunes go the way of the latter- few tennis sights are more entertaining than an in form Gulbis going for it with his wind up forehand. We’d like to see it sail him into his second slam semi-final.
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