Now that the men's draw has been officially announced, Novak Djokovic could be best described as the favorite to go deep in this tournament. With Rafael Nadal sitting this tournament out with an injury, the other major winners in 2012--Djokovic and Roger Federer--drew opposite sides of the bracket. For Federer to get to the final, he will have to beat Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray in the semifinal.
Early Rounds for Novak Djokovic
Djokovic's bracket starts out with him going up against Italian Paolo Lorenzi. Lorenzi is a 30-year-old Italian who has been a pro since 2003. In 2012, Lorenzi has struggled to a 5-14 record, but was competitive in the clay-court tournaments on the schedule. Do not expect too much of a struggle for Djokovic, as Lorenzi has only won once all season on a hard-court surface.
The first possible seeded player Djokovic would have to face could be Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Benneteau drew the 31st seed and has had success against some of the best players in men's tennis. At Wimbledon, he took Federer to a fifth set before losing. His record in 2012 is 5-8 on the hard courts. Benneteau has gotten to the third round of the last two majors played on hard courts, but he will have to play his best tennis against Djokovic if he wants to advance deep into this U.S. Open.
Possible Fourth-Round Opponents For Djokovic
Baghdatis is a tour veteran who has a 9-9 record this season on the hard court. However, one of the nine losses came to Djokovic in the second round of the Sony Ericcson Open earlier this season.
Wawrinka is known as a clay-court specialist and has only competed in two hard-court tournaments during 2012. He did advance to the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open earlier this month before losing to Roger Federer. Wawrinka may be a wild card in this tournament since most of his victories in 2012 have come on clay courts.
If Djokovic has to get by one of these three and face a true test, it may come from Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov comes into the U.S. Open after winning the 2012 Citi Open tournament earlier this month. Though many of the best players were playing in the Olympics, he did beat quality opponents, including Sam Querrey and Tommy Haas. Dolgopolov enters his 11th tournament on the hard court this season. He was also a finalist in the season-opening tournament in Brisbane, Australia. The surface for the Brisbane Open is a hard court. Djokovic wants an upset of Dolgopolov in the early rounds to have a better chance of getting to the final.
Quarterfinals for Novak Djokovic
A possible quarterfinal opponent would be Juan Martin Del Potro, who won at Flushing Meadows in 2009. Del Potro has had recent success against Djokovic, including beating Djokovic for the Olympic bronze medal at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club earlier this month. That was on a grass court and two out of three sets; this will be on a hard surface and will take three sets to win a match.
Other Ends of the Bracket
The favorites to reach the final from other ends of the bracket have to include Andy Murray and Roger Federer. If all holds serve for them, Murray and Federer would face off in the semifinal, with the winner most likely playing Djokovic or the highest remaining seeded player. Otherwise, there seems to be little to stop Novak Djokovic from winning his second major tournament of 2012. For Djokovic, that could cap a second brilliant season on the ATP Tour.
Edwin Alexander has been following tennis since he was a child. He vividly remembers the run of Jimmy Connors in the 1991 U.S. Open.
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