Time’s fast running out to make an impact on 2012 for many of the less elite names of tennis, with the US Open hurtling towards us with indecent haste after the Olympic games, and the truncated hard court season adding bonus areas of doubt and uncertainty.
So here’s a few players and matches to watch in the men’s qualifiers, picked with an entirely arbitrary editorial zeal.
In the top section are the three leading seeds, Igor Sijsling, Aljaz Bedene and Ricardas Berankis. The Dutchman’s shot into the top 100 with his attacking game, Bedene is a clay court player with considerable skills and Berankis has long been seen as a player to watch before injury intervened. His run to the final of Los Angeles says enough. Berankis and Dustin Brown are seeded to meet for a place in the draw, so one good man must go.
Also worth watching in the top section is Argentina’s Guido Pella, a 22-year-old who has been working his way up the rankings with excellent south American clay Challenger results, including two victories.
In quarter two, Vasek Pospisil of Canada has failed to make a significant breakthrough so far that seemed likely at the end of last year and he’ll be tested by American youngster Rhyne Williams.
Wimbledon qualifier Inigo Cervantes is the other seed in that section that also includes an intriguing match between tiny ex-French Open Junior Champion Agustin Velotti and the oft misfiring Andrey Golubev.
The third section offers another American hope Bradley Klahn a match with clay grinder Diego Junquiera. Klahn has a nice win against Igor Andreev already on his CV., while Michael Berrer against Thomas Schoorel could offer some of the best tennis of round one if both players are on their game. Berrer is a familiar figure with his uncomplicated biffing and barrel chest, while the tall Schoorel has shown flashes of ability, most notably in a very respectable 2011 defeat by Roger Federer in Doha. Sadly his ranking has fallen down from the edge of the top 100.
The last quarter includes our top 100 candidate Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium and Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker. The 2006 junior Wimbledon champion has cracked the top 50 once and is back climbling the mountain thanks to injury problems, with back, ankle and other ailments. He enjoys the US hard court surface but could have got a kinder draw than Daniel Brands.
There will be plenty of other tales to emerge over the week at Flushing Meadows, with 112 unfortunates facing being wiped out before most people realise the tournament has even begun.