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Liguori: My Picks To Win The 2011 US Open

By Ann Liguori
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The most anticipated showdown at the US Open this year should undoubtedly be a possible Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer semifinal. Top seed Djokovic will be on a mission to win his first US Open title and hope to repeat his effort against Federer from the 2010 semis, where he beat the five-time US Open champ in five sets.

Yes, Roger was able to get in his way at the French this year with a four-set win in the semis, but Djokovic wants this US Open title and he should be rested and ready to fight for it. He did withdraw against Andy Murray in the finals in Cincinnati last week after dropping the first set 6-4 and being down 3-love in the second, citing shoulder troubles. But it seemed like more fatigue than anything.

As long as Djokovic is healthy, I don't believe he will let anyone prevent him from winning his first US Open title -- and wrap up his stellar year, winning his third major.

In the bottom half of the draw, 4th seed Andy Murray would potentially face defending champ and 2nd seed Rafael Nadal in the other semifinal. Nadal's fingers should be 100 percent. Yes, touching hot plates is not a good idea. He apparently burned his fingers when touching a hot plate at a restaurant and blisters developed. But blisters or not, Nadal will do all he can to attempt to repeat as US Open champion.

After earning a record-tying 6th straight French Open title, Nadal hopes to rise to the occasion in NY and will look for his 11th Grand Slam championship overall. Plus, he'd like to avenge his Wimbledon final loss to Djokovic.

Stay tuned. The plot thickens… burned fingers, shoulder pain… history at stake… I'm picking Djokovic over Nadal in four sets in the final.

In the women's draw, since Serena Williams is seeded 28th, she could face 4th seed Victoria Azarenka in the third round. Being in the top half of the draw, Serena could eventually meet top seed Caroline Wozniacki in one semi-final.

Venus Williams, who is unseeded this year due to a hip injury that wiped out half of her season, is in the bottom half of the draw with 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia. Venus could face 22nd seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the second round and third seed Maria Sharapova in the other semi-final.

If Serena is 100 percent healthy, she is too powerful and determined not to win her 4th US Open title. Who will she meet in the final? I'll predict that Serena will play 5th seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, the 21-year-old leftie who disposed of Sharapova in the finals of Wimbledon to win her first Grand Slam title.

I expect the talented Kvitova to have a stunning career and add some fun and panache to the women's draw.

Who do you think will win it all? Let Ann know in the comments below!

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