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  Jon Wertheim's U.S. Open Preview

Posted: Fri August 28, 1998

Sports Illustrated staff writer Jon Wertheim gives his take on what will happen at the U.S. Open. Click here to send a question to his Tennis Mailbag.

Men's Draw | Women's Draw

Predictions

Semifinals: Pete Sampras vs. Patrick Rafter; Richard Krajicek vs. Alex Corretja
Finals: Sampras over Krajicek

Seed Report

1. Pete Sampras. Yeah, yeah, we know. He's tired, he's getting old, he's had a lousy summer. Fact remains, the guy is a machine in the big-ticket events. Says here he digs deep and ties Roy Emerson's record 12 Grand Slam titles.

2. Marcelo Rios. "Hey, Marcelo, you're the number one player in the world! What are you going to do now?" Never mind Disney World. The flayin' Chilean promptly lost three of four matches. His impressive run of Grand Slam futility will continue in New York. Look for a second-round loss to Magnus Larsson.

3. Patrick Rafter. Defending champ is peaking at the right time. Only Sampras, equipped with a reserve tank of fuel, should prevent him from repeating.

4. Petr Korda. Korda is a chronically underrated player with beautiful strokes, but his final appearance in New York will be a forgettable one. He's 31, he's a new dad, and he's ready for the next phase of life. Look for him to lose early and then retire.

5. Richard Krajicek. The player Andre Agassi calls "Crackerjack" always comes with a surprise. Could either win the whole event or lose his first-round match. He's (over)due for a solid Open.

6. Greg Rusedski. After a breakthrough last year, the Canuck-turned-Limey has been hobbled by injuries. I like his unrelenting serve-and-volley game, but wonder if he's healthy enough to make real noise. Tough first-round opponent, though, in Wayne Ferreira.

7. Alex Corretja. Will try to exorcise epic loss to Sampras in 1996 quarterfinals. Best of the Spanish Armada on hard courts, Corretja has huge sleeper potential.

8. Andre Agassi. Fan favorite has lost momentum since winning 15 straight matches earlier this summer. Three-of-five-sets format works to his advantage but AA is still too erratic to run the table. If he doesn't lose to Karol Kucera in the round of 16, Pete will get him in the quarters.

9. Karol Kucera. Another dark horse, Kucera won the New Haven tuneup event last week. Like his coach, Miloslav Mecir, the "Little Cat" lulls opponents to sleep with quiet efficiency before pouncing.

10. Carlos Moya. Barring a last-minute surface change, this clay-court specialist won't survive second-round match with Michael (remember me?) Chang.

11. Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Russian rocket is always dangerous, but rarely rises to the occasion.

12. Jonas Bjorkman. After nearly making the finals last year, he has had a mediocre-bordering-on-disappointing 1998. Could very easily lose first match to Cedric Pioline.

13. Tim Henman. This not being Wimbledon, Henman will perform his specialty: play well for a few rounds, serve poorly and lose graciously to a higher seed. Tough first opponent in Scott Draper.

14. Goran Ivanisevic. Your guess is as good as mine. Or his for that matter. Lousy draw has him starting off against cagey Mark Woodforde.

15. Alberto Berasategui. See Moya. Loses to Thomas Muster in first round.

16. Albert Costa. See Berasategui.

Miscellaneous

Darkhorses: Agassi lookalike Nicholas Kiefer; tennis's answer to Leonardo DiCaprio, Jan-Michael Gambill; always perilous Jan Siermerink, Byron Black and Scott Draper.

Attention shoppers, has anyone seen: Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Arnaud Boetsch, Gustavo Kuerten, Sergi Bruguera?

First-round match to watch: Marat Safin vs. Magnus Gustafsson

Also: Women's Draw

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