US Open 2014 Preview
The alpha male is not clear going into US Open but can Queen Bee Serena deliver in NY after a misfiring in previous 3 Slams in 2014?
Serena came good in Cincinnati for the first time in her illustrious career, but by her standards 2014 has been lean as far as adding to her Grand Slam tally. She is clearly No1 in the world and the player to beat. Only Maria Sharapova has the same fear factor imbedded in the other player's minds, but she cannot beat Serena, so is reliant on Serena losing to boost her chances of adding to her 5 Slams. Kvitova seems to have gone "walkies" again after another Wimbledon triumph (needs to read the chapter on 'Sustaining Locker Room Power), but what a final that would be if she could find form and get to play Serena on Ashe Stadium court. Halep continues to develop and will feature in NY.
Serena has the mojo going in and I expect her to win another Slam and further enhance the status of players over 30 becoming an increasing force in the game. Venus has won a few good matches as well and no high seed will want to see her in their section because she definitely has one upset in her and may have her best showing in NY for a few years.
Roger Federer has pulled off a master stroke in employing Stefan Edberg to help evolve his game and possibly lead the way into a new future for tennis which will see a return to more serve and volley and outright approach and volley tennis backed up by an all court game that includes defensive and neutralising slice backhands with the constant threat of a big shot being launched to keep opponents unsettled.
Roger cannot trade relentlessly from the back against younger legs but with Edberg adding balance and finesse to his volleys, it is evident that his comfort level in attacking the net is growing tournament by tournament, culminating in the title in Cincinnati. Finishing points at the net is now part of his psyche and sets the stage for him reclaiming the Alpa male of the pack as the US Open begins - but there is still the nagging feeling that the current Alpha male has stored up his energy and come the tournament Novak will repel the renewed Roger.
Rafa is absent and Andy is mentally unreliable in matches at the moment, twice squandering leads in the past two Masters Events. The young pretenders are closing the gap but ever so slowly and until one of Raonic, Kyrgios or Dimitrov actually wins a Slam the debate and excitement about these players being the new big dogs is premature with the incumbents rarely troubled by them in the matches that count towards history and win Slams. I don't see it happening in NY or possibly until 2016. The desire to improve and the joy of playing and competing that the "big 4" still show week in and week out, especially in the Slams and Masters is simply a priviledge to witness and great for the sport.
So with a measure of confidence I believe that the LRP for NY is firmly in the hands of Novak and Roger with a suspicion that Samprasesque like Roger can lift the title in a little over two weeks - another milestone for the over 30's who refuse to go quietly into the night, opting to rather play under the lights.