U.S. Open 2010: Can an Unseeded Men's Tennis Player Win Again?

Cliff PotterCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24:  Andre Agassi smiles as he enters the stadium to play against John McEnroe during the Stars Under the Stars gala on July 24, 2010 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center in Los Angeles, California.  Andre Agassi defeated John McEnroe 6-4, 6-2.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

Will it be Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or someone else? 

With Federer making few excuses at the moment, mononucleosis gone, and no known physical injuries, he is the bookies' favorite, with Nadal just behind.  Will Federer win a record sixth US Men's Open title this year?

Hard courts at times punish the way Nadal plays. Yet, he continues to amaze many with his ability to advance on surfaces other than clay. Is this his turn for a win at the US Open?

If someone else, will it be one of the big players such as 6'3" (1.90m) Andy Murray, or one of the smaller players such as 5'11" (1.80m) Lleyton Hewitt on tour? Will court coverage trump power? Can anyone win who is not at least 6'0" (1.83m) feet tall?

With so many possible seeded winners in the Men's Draw of the US Open, perhaps one of the most talented in history, it seems completely foolish to contemplate an unseeded player winning the Men's Final. The last and only unseeded winner in the Open age to win was Andre Agassi. And his win came in the middle of his comeback.

Are there any such players today? Perhaps a few. This reviews two of them.

Yet, in any tennis age, a new dawn occurs when the old are replaced by the new. So it may be this week as the US Open begins and we look carefully at players who are also making comebacks and are emerging as new stars in an incredibly talented group of players already recognized as potential challengers for this year's US Open Men's Title.

The one uncertainty for the surface of the US Open is the amount of sand used in the paint. The more sand, the more spin and the less speed. Apparently, the US Open does not announce the precise amount of sand being used for its painted surfaces. Thus, it is possible that the surface will be slower and more oriented to spin.

Sergiy Stakhovsky

Winner of the Pilot Pen Men's Championship and coming into the US Open on the upswing, Stakhovsky is likely the highest ranked unseeded player. At 6'4" and very thin, one wonders what his stamina will be like in the second week.  Should he reach that level, he would have to beat Nadal and Verdasco to advance to the semifinals. 

There was far less competition at the Pilot Pen than there will be at the US Open. Also, when looking at his results against ranked players, his annihilation at the hands of Andy Roddick in March does not bode well for Stakhovsky.

Yet, for all this, given the draw, Stakhovsky could benefit from the rest of the draw in what some claim is the weakest draw in the tournament. The most likely of the unseeded players may be Stakhovsky.

Richard Gasquet

Gasquet is said by some to be the favored unseeded player in the tournament. Unlike Stakhovsky, his success on hard courts is limited. Also, he lost to Stakhovsky in the Rogers Masters. He may not be the second most likely winner, but his past history indicates that he has a chance. His win over Mikhail Youzhny, seeded 12th in the US Open, makes it more likely that he could advance further this time than ever before.

Dark Horses

As I write this column, the game between Robin Soderling and Andreas Haider-Maurer is in the third set. One is reminded, with the match tied 5-5, that some dark horse winner could advance very far if he wins the first match that he plays. Will it be Haider-Maurer? We will see.

And that is The Real Truth.