The Reuters global sports blog
Rusedski looks to Cincinnati for US Open form
The Cincinnati Masters became a very important event before the US Open because a lot of the big names lost early in Montreal and needed to get match play before the Open started.
How would Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray perform? Could Novak Djokovic continue his amazing run of only one match lost all season, having just won Montreal a week earlier?
From an American point of view, Mardy Fish was having the best results of his career having won in Atlanta and made the finals of LA and Montreal. It is always important for tennis and the tennis industry, to have an American doing well in his own country. Andy Roddick, the stalwart of U.S. tennis for the last decade had been struggling so it was important Fish played well.
Nadal and Federer both got to the quarter-finals were they both lost. Nadal lost to Mardy Fish who he had never lost to before. Nadal is struggling with his game. At the moment he needs to start serving better like he did last year when he won the US Open. He also needs better depth on his ground shots and to get back that confidence which he has lost slightly, if he is going to defend his title.
Federer, on the other hand, has lost 2 weeks in a row to players he would historically never lose to. Last week he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and in Cincinnati to Tomas Berdych. Federer has had a good year but because he has set such high standards anything apart from winning or getting to the finals of majors is now considered a failure from the public point of view, which I think is unfair. At this point in his career with the courts being slower and players getting stronger I think it will be very difficult to see Roger winning another major. He has got to hope for hot weather at the US Open so the speed of court is fast as it was at the French Open when he got to the finals this year. We are very lucky to have Federer in tennis and at 29 years of age to still be playing so well is a credit.
Murray on the other hand was playing well again and got to the semi-finals quite comfortably and played Mardy Fish. Murray won in straight sets to make the finals, but said he got a little tired in the second set because of the hot weather. He also said he needs to get fitter if he is going to win the US Open. Murray looks to be peaking at just the right time. Fish on the other hand has had another great week and will be one of the dark horses for the US Open.
In the other semi-finals it was Djokovic versus Berdych. Unfortunately Berdych had to retire with shoulder problems, so Djokovic was in yet another final this year. This hard court season a lot of players (the likes of Tsonga, Djokovic, Berdych, etc) have been struggling with their shoulders. It has to do with the constant change of tennis balls instead of having one uniform ball throughout the season. This debate of ball consistency has been going on as long as I have been in tennis and will never be resolved because of all the different ball sponsorships.
In the finals Murray played great but unfortunately for Djokovic he was having shoulder problems as well and could not serve well enough; Murray took full advantage and was up 6-4 3-0 when Djokovic retired, thus giving Murray his first title of the year.
Murray has had a very good year especially at the majors. Going into the US Open it looks like he will be peaking at just the right time. In the past two years he has peaked too soon in the hard court season. Look for Murray to be in the semi-finals of the US Open or even go further. The other big question is will Djokovic be fully fit? Bring on the US Open!