2012 US Open dark horseThe 2012 US Open is going to start in less than 24 hours from the time I’m writing this. There has already been plenty of predictions on who is favored to win the US Open and who has better chances. I’ve noticed that nobody is really talking about the 2012 US Open dark horses.

The definition of “Dark Horse” is a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort or a contestant that seems unlikely to succeed. In tennis, essentially it means which of the male players outside of the big 3 (Federer, Djokovic, and Murray) actually have a chance to win the Open.

5 men’s 2012 US Open dark horse picks:

2012 US Open Dark Horse #1 – Juan Martin Del Potro - The 2009 US Open champion has had a pretty quiet season so far. The Argentine has fared well at the three majors so far this year, reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the French Open, yet he fell early at Wimbledon in the fourth round.

JMDP has a fighting chance to win the 2012 US Open because, like 2009, he came out of nowhere. He could have a hot streak and hit those huge groundstrokes that helped him win the 11 career titles. If he keeps his first serve percentage high and hit his forehand big, then his chances increase tremendously. If he can find his stroke and hit through his opponents he could be a serious contender to reach the final. Hopefully his wrists are strong enough to take two weeks of potential 5 set matches.

2012 US Open Dark Horse #2 – Andy Roddick – As a fan of tennis and being an American, Andy Roddick is the obvious choice as a US Open dark horse. Roddick was the last American to win any major in nearly a decade, so he gets an extra bit of hope from me to win any hard court or grass tournament.

Andy hasn’t had much of a stellar year in 2012; not reaching further than the third round of any major this year. Roddick has also been plagued with injuries, hamstring and shoulder. In order for Andy to have any chance to win the US Open, he’s going to have to play lights out tennis. In fact, he is going to need to pick up his first serve mphs’ back up to the 140’s. His serve has been his biggest weapon throughout his career and has been his way of picking up free points and get himself out of trouble.

Beyond his first serve, Roddick will have to stay near the baseline. It’s no secret that Roddick is not the best at approaching and being at the net. The reality is, he is more likely to win more points hitting from the baseline than coming to net. He gets passed more often than he wins points. He is far more powerful hitting his forehand than his backhand slice approach (which is very readable). If a healthy aggressive Andy Roddick shows up to the Open, he might have a chance…if he stays near the baseline.

2012 US Open Dark Horse #3 – David Ferrer – The other Spaniard that’s in the top 10 (behind Rafael Nadal). Ferrer has been in the top 10 for last two years and has yet to reach a major final. He’s among the shortest players on tour (5’9″, 175cm) and has had the fortune of winning 5 titles just this year. Ferrer has actually has had pretty good runs at majors, reaching the quarterfinals or better of every slam. This year he has reached the quarters of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while reaching the semifinals of the French Open.

The hard court is not his best surface, though David has always has the speed and agility to stay in every single match he will face. If he wants a chance to reach the final, not only will he have to work hit butt off and be everywhere the ball is going to be, he will have to play some of his best offensive tennis.

Ferrer is not the biggest server, though he does win a lot of his first serve points (73% in 2012). If he put his first serve in more than 65% of the time and moves it around well, he could have a chance to hold most of his serves. His biggest chance of going deep in the US Open, he will have to up his return of serve up a few percentage points and hopefully continue his break point conversion near half the chances.

2012 US Open Dark Horse #4 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – I love this guy, he’s talented, powerful, and really just really fun to watch. Tsonga has had opportunities to break through to be part of the “big 3,” unfortunately his lack of consistency has denied him a potential major title. His 2012 season has been pretty exciting, he reached the semifinal of the French Open and Wimbledon. He even had a few match points against Novak Djokovic at the French, yet he was unable to close out the match.

Tsonga really does have the weapons to beat anybody in the top 10 easily. Tsonga hits a very big forehand and a very impressive backhand (even a onehanded backhand at times). His serve is especially effective on the quicker surfaces, though it can be rather streaky. He is very powerful with he moves on the court, he’s quick and like another Frenchman, he enjoys showboating a little bit.

If Tsonga is to break though and reach the finals of the 2012 US Open, he’s going to have to be consistently strong in every match. I’m not just talking about his tennis, I’m also speaking to his mental toughness, which I think has improved this year. He seems to have gotten smarter in his matches, instead of just hitting out hoping for a winner, he’s begun to construct quality points. If he is consistent, he is confident, and a confident Tsonga can be very threatening to every player in his draw.

2012 US Open Dark Horse #5 – John Isner – Another American in the 2012 US Open dark horse list. Isner has been favored to go deep at the US Open ever since he turned pro and started climbing the rankings. John has not really had the success in majors as many have said he would. Just last year, Isner reached his first quarterfinal in a major; all others have been fourth round exits or earlier.

We all know that Isner has the big serve that helps him grab plenty of free points. Though, Isner cannot rely on just his serve. Like many of the other tennis venues, the courts are slow, so the big serve is not as effective. Isner will have to work on hitting every ball with depth and penetration through the court. In other words, Isner will need to focus on dictating as many points as he can.

Even with his big frame and big serve, Isner will have to focus on his movement. He is really not the best mover on tour. Don’t get me wrong, he moves well for a six foot nine inch tennis player, his lankiness keeps him from moving all that mass from side to side. If he dictates play and hits major groundies, he has a fighting chance.

Which dark horse has a better chance of winning the 2012 US Open?

  • Juan Martin Del Potro (33%, 4 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (33%, 4 Votes)
  • Andy Roddick (8%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (8%, 1 Votes)
  • John Isner (8%, 1 Votes)
  • Somebody else (10%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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There ya have it folks, a list of 5 2012 US Open dark horses. Now, there is no way of knowing how these guys will play in the coming days of the US Open, though I am fairly confident that they will have some very exciting matches. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a Roddick win at the Open, it’s been far too long since the title holder has been from the United States.

What are your thoughts on these 2012 US Open dark horse pick? You can leave your comments below and even share your thoughts on other players I have not mentioned in my top 5!

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Filed under: 2012 Tennis Season

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