In the most unpredictable US Open for years, we’ve asked Barry Cowan for his analysis of everything that’s been happening at Flushing Meadows and what he thinks might come.
Are Roger and Rafa on a collision course in New York?
I think they are now. I wasn’t convinced by either of them early on, but I think they’ve both put down a marker now. I felt that Rafa didn’t have the momentum from the start of the tournament, but I thought that match against Leonardo Mayer was a huge turning point. I actually think right now, for me, he is the favourite, but of course things can change.
It is strange that they’ve never met at the US Open, but it’s more Rafa’s fault rather than Roger’s because Federer has won it five times while Rafa has struggled in recent years. One of the reasons why is because he’s generally always played his best tennis in the first six months of the year and he has been a little off in terms of his fitness, or physically he has looked a little jaded.
Having been unconvinced about both Rafa and Roger at the start, I think I can eat some humble pie, but I don’t see anyone beating those two in the top half.
Who is your favourite to come through in the bottom half?
Sam Querrey is better equipped than Kevin Anderson, Pablo Carreno Busta or Diego Schwartzman. I felt when I watched him at Wimbledon, he had a top 10 in him, and I didn’t see that tournament as a flash in a pan. The backhand has definitely improved and where he has taken his tennis to a new level is that American tennis over the last decade has been pretty predictable. It’s been big serve, big forehand and ineffective backhand, but he has taken his tennis to another couple of levels in terms of his aggression.
I personally have so much respect for Schwartzman and I love the fact that in the modern era here is someone who is five foot nothing and is a damn good tennis player.
What has happened to Alexander Zverev?
What we’ve learned so far in the opening week is that Nadal and Federer have definitely improved, but the pressure on players when the expectation from them and from the outside world for the time to deliver is proving hard. Zeverv is a player you put into that mix. He knows he’s ready and he expected to make the final – he said that himself – but as of yet he has been unable to play the tennis that he has been playing, like he did in Rome, Montreal and Washington. It will come, but for every Slam that he doesn’t do it, it gets harder. But he strikes me as a person who won’t just say it will happen, he will make it happen.
An unusual exit for Britain’s Kyle Edmund, wasn’t it?
He was really unfortunate to get the neck injury but that match has kind of been the story of his year really where he’s been promising, he’s playing well, but he’s just not able to push that door open. He is knocking on the door. Sometimes injuries like that can be down to stress, a little bit of pressure. He needs to try and be able to get through one of those tough matches which he hasn’t been able to do this year.
What about the women’s draw? Who will win it?
I have no idea. I thought Garbine Muguruza was going to win it, but I was surprised she went out to Petra Kvitova and I was also surprised to see Johanna Konta go out early. What makes the women’s draw exciting is that you’re looking at it thinking ‘yes, you can win it, but can you?’ ‘do you believe you can?’ So no real confidence in picking a winner.
Barry Cowan was speaking to Sky Sports’ Raz Mirza. Sky Sports Tennis will have all the action from the US Open covered via our website www.skysports.com/tennis with our live blogs and updates throughout the fortnight as the Grand Slam year reaches its climax.
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