And here is the second installment to the preview of the upcoming US Open series and what we as fans should look out for on the main tour! After the first part of this series covered the future of Safina, del Potro, Simon, the Williams Sisters, and Azarenka, I will continue to focus on certain individuals of the sport.
5. Can Kuznetsova Regain Her Form?
Svetlana Kuznetsova is one of the WTA tour's finest players. Kuznetsova, confident and strong, stormed through Paris to win her second grand slam title. But afterwards she had a series of lackluster performances on grass, accumulating in a losing effort to hard-hitting Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon.
Sveta is known for her lapses in play, so as she approaches the summer hard courts defending little points we wonder how high she can climb. Primarily, she is in a three way race with Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva for the third and fourth seeds at the US Open. It is very likely that Sveta might just bomb out of a few of the summer hard court tournaments only to post a great run at the US Open, but just as likely is she could reach a few finals during the summer and bomb out in the second round at the final grand slam of the year.
Overall, as Sveta proceeds through this summer I know I'm going to be paying close attention to her ranking change because if she sneaks in above Venus in the rankings she might cause a Serena-Venus QF clash at the US Open.
6. When Will It Happen?
Despite only being in his early twenties, Marin Cilic (seen right), has seemingly been called a player to watch for the entire season. But time after time he has come up short despite his 6 foot 6 frame and outstanding movement for a man so tall. When examining his game I was constantly searching for major strengths and major weaknesses yet I found nothing. That's a good and a bad sign with his game for he can still improve. Primarily he needs to get stronger and get some more miles per hour on that already spin filled serve. Additionally he could work on moving forward more since his forecourt game is currently filled with natural raw talent that can still be refined.
His major curse has been his nerves. At Wimbledon he squandered match points against Tommy Haas and thus costing him a chance to advance deep in a grand slam draw for the first time. I am constantly waiting for him to break through at a top men's event yet countless times he refuses to get that big win.
Will it finally come this summer? These summer tournaments might be his best chance all year as Roger Federer might not be competing due to the pregnancy of his wife, Mirka.
7. Where Will Roddick Go?
Clearly, Andy Roddick is at a deciding moment in his career. Coming off his Wimbledon final loss he will either shine or fade away. As he continues to age he will certainly win less and less so these upcoming years are vital. Particularly, this US Open will be a huge opportunity with Nadal hurting, Djokovic slumping, Murray faltering, and Federer awaiting the birth of his first child. His loss to Federer in the Wimbledon final could be so major that Roddick never recovers, however, and he won't be able to get over it. I pray that he realizes how it reflects his own improvement and he continues to grow in confidence because Roddick can cause serious damage to his competition this summer as his game flourishes on the hard courts.
Roddick may have withdrawn from Davis Cup because of an injury, but if his results are not top notch we will all know it's not his body that's hurting. It's essential that he overcomes the loss and uses it to help his confidence because his level during the Wimbledon final was extraordinary and if he keeps it up he should be back in a grand slam final in a few weeks at the US Open.
8. Can His Knees Last?
Once again, Rafael Nadal's knees are causing some concern. Forcing him out of Wimbledon and a chance to maintain his number one ranking, those knees are causing havoc. Hopefully the rehab of the past few weeks has been enough and he can play on the hard courts. The blue-green summer hard courts, however, are notorious for being much more damaging to knees and joints compared to the soft clay and grass courts of the previous weeks.
To be frank, the tour needs him for his personality, the media needs him to broadcast tennis, and I need him to make the ATP even more competitive. I'm sure he will be back playing again, but will his knees continue to bother him and affect his play for the rest of his career? Can he regain his number one ranking? Will these knees consistently wear out mid season, forever stopping him from winning the US Open and thus the career slam unless he makes serious changes? There are just so many questions surrounding Nadal and his knees that his first few matches when he comes back will greatly reflect things to come.
Well there you have it! Those eight things you should watch for with the upcoming summer hard court swing and the US Open on the men's and women's tours!