It has been more than a dozen years since I could say that Federer is more of an outside chance than one of a few favourites to win a grand slam. However, Sampras was more of an outsider when he won his last U.S. Open. That victory came more or less out of the blue especially after his disastrous Wimbledon loss a couple of months before. Roger played a very good match against Rafa in Cincinnati last week and showed some better form than he has the rest of this year, but still he lost. He seemed to have the match within his grasp yet Rafa's game and determination was able to rest it from him.
I somehow cannot see Roger any longer able to beat two of the top four back to back, yet I know through hard earned experience that you can never ever discount a great champion. It is hard to look beyond Novak, Rafa and Andy as the potential champion of the 2013 US Open.
My personal view is that we cannot read anything into Andy's two weeks of preparation in Montréal and Cincinnati, other than that he had a good run out and got a few matches under his belt. Rafa is the form player. He has been magnificent over the past two weeks and must surely go into the tournament as the slight favourite over Andy. Novak is still clear number one in the world and certainly would like to win the US Open to lay claim to the number one spot for yet another year as a two time slam winner.
If either Andy or Rafa win the tournament it is arguable that even if they finish in rankings as the number two that for the year as two time grand slam winners, either would feel like number one. The margins between these three players are so tiny that it is almost impossible to separate them and basically the winner will be decided on the day. Behind them there are three players Roger, Berdych and possibly John Isner who can take the title. I cannot see any other player winning this tournament other than the 6 players listed in this piece already.
The woman are in an equal position with Serena and Azerenka clear favourites ahead of the field. From these two there is a slight gap to Sharapova (Come on what were her representatives or her thinking of when they decided to change her name to Sugarpova? Surely they could figure it out that it detracts from the game of tennis and in a way is a little bit condescending and a mockery of not only a great tournament but a great sport?)
Sam Stosur, Radwanska, Jankovic and Kvitova will all harbour ambitions to do very well in this tournament and Stosur is a past winner and she certainly seems to find form on these U.S. Open courts. I have a sneaking suspicion that Caroline Wozniaki will find some form in these two weeks and certainly be in line for upsetting a player or two, as could Laura Robson. Can Lisicki prove she is a threat on more than one surface when it comes to Grand Slams? My journey as a coach in this years US Open has already begun in the qualifying tournament with Samantha Murray. At the time of writing she is in the second round of the qualifying tournament and hopefully next week I will be watching her in the main draw.
I am certainly proud of the growing success of the TeamBathMCTA programme which is gaining results on the international stage. It is 12 years since I coached a player through qualifying into the main draw of the US open. That player was Barry Cowan, who is involved with the Academy when not working for Sky and has practiced with Sam on a number of occasions. If she gets thru he will be in NY as a commentator and will no doubt get to see her play which will be a nice moment