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U.S. Open men's seed report

He's been iffy, but do you dare bet against Federer?

Posted: Thursday August 23, 2007 11:37AM; Updated: Friday August 24, 2007 1:37AM
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As if Roger Federer needed any kind of help, he won't face a top-100 opponent until the third round of the U.S. Open.
As if Roger Federer needed any kind of help, he won't face a top-100 opponent until the third round of the U.S. Open.
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SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's and women's seeds at the U.S. Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses to keep an eye on and his predicted winners.

Top 16 seeds

1. Roger Federer: Some shaky play lately -- at least by his dizzyingly high standards -- including a loss to Novak Djokovic and several three-setters in Cincinnati. Still, who has the guts to bet against the three-time defending champ? Not us. And, as if he needed a boost, The Mighty Fed won't face a top-100 player, until round three.

2. Rafael Nadal: Never been beyond the quarters and comes in a bit banged up. Be great if American fans could witness a third straight Federer-Nadal Grand Slam final. But given Nadal's banged up body, we're thinking it's 50-50 at best.

3. Novak Djokovic: A semifinalist at the previous two Slams, the Djoker will go for the trifecta in New York. Remember, he beat Andy Roddick, Nadal and Federer on the hard-courts of Montreal. On the other hand, he comes in off a straight-set loss in Cincy and could get an early test from Mario Ancic and then Radek Stepanek.

4. Nikolay Davydenko: "His Airness" plays well at the Slams, but he has some pretty weighty issues on his plate right now.

5. Andy Roddick: If Roddick is going to win another Slam, odds are good that it's going to come in New York. But not when Federer lurks in the quarters (and, for that matter, Tomas Berdych in the round of 16.) This ought to silence the conspiracy theorists, who claim the draws are rigged.

6. James Blake: After a dismal first seven months of 2007, Connecticut Yankee has blazed to life on American hard-courts. A quarterfinalist in '05 and '06, Blake has a fine draw, too. But how will he handle the pressure of expectation?

7. Fernando Gonzalez: The Gonzo who reached the Australian final is a just a hazy memory. The Chilean is back to John Daly tennis, which can be entertaining for a few rounds but impossible to sustain over time.

8. Tommy Robredo: We're thinking he suffers an upset to Mardy Fish in round two.

9. Tom Berdych: He's becoming a maddeningly erratic player, capable of beating anyone and losing to anyone as well. We eagerly await his possible fourth-rounder against Roddick. Alas, the winner is likely to face Federer.

10. Tommy Haas: That's three straight "Tommys" in the seedings, if you're counting at home. As always, Haas' health and durability are question marks, but the talent is not. He's also helped by a mostly benign draw.

11. Mikhail Youzhny: Which Yooz will show up? The one who beat Nadal to make the semis last year? Or the one who lost to Sam Querrey in Cincy? The Russian is a fine Big Match player so we would guess the former. A quarterfinal date with Djokovic is the guess here.

12. Ivan Ljubicic: The Croatian sedation is in free fall. Maybe the ATP politics have exacted a price on his game.

13. Richard Gasquet: He seemed to have taken a big step when he recovered from a two-set deficit to beat Roddick in the Wimbledon quarters. But he hasn't done much to build on that; and he's in Federer's neighborhood of the draw.

14. Guillermo Caņas: Where has this guy gone after beating Federer twice on hard-courts this spring?

15. David Ferrer: This hefty Spaniard beat Roddick at Cincy and has had considerable hard-court success. A player to watch, especially if Nadal (a possible fourth-round foe) isn't 100 percent.

16. Lleyton Hewitt: Quietly, the '01 champ is playing top-five tennis over the past six months. (Parents now at a distance: coincidence?) A run deep into week two wouldn't be at all surprising.

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