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Don't count on these things at the U.S. Open

Any chump can make predictions in tennis with a reasonable chance of success. I mean, take the way I called a Francesca Schiavone versus Slammin' Sammy Stosur final in the French Open, with Schiavone going on to win her first Grand Slam title on the eve of her 30th birthday.

Piece of cake, right?

So let's take it up a notch. How about we look at five U.S. Open predictions that have no chance of coming to pass. We'll take them in order, building up to the least likely to come true.

5. Tomas Berdych will win the U.S. Open. This is a tempting prediction -- I'll be the first to admit it. Berdych played great at Roland Garros (he lost a bitter, exhausting power-clay battle with Robin Soderling) and also at Wimbledon, where he took out Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic before falling to Rafael Nadal in the championship match.

Berdych has been running out of steam since he returned at Washington, stalling in the quarterfinals in two events and going out meekly to Marcos Baghdatis in his last U.S. Open tune-up event. This is a train heading in the wrong direction.

4. The women's final will belong to a first-time Grand Slam champion. The list of capable female players who might break through keeps getting longer (it includes top seed Caroline Wozniacki, two players who have been ranked No. 1, Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina, and Elena Dementieva).

No way. The only player who hasn't won a major who seems to have the right stuff these days is Victoria Azarenka, but it's hard to see anyone but Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams or Svetlana Kuznetsova getting it done.

3. We will have a Nadal-Federer final. Nice as it would be, and as much as the draw has made it possible (how about Nadal having to play Berdych and Federer drawing Soderling in semifinal and quarterfinal matches, respectively?), one of those two worthy combatants will fail to make the appointment. Don't ask me which one, though.

2. Venus Williams will win the tournament. It's a bitter pill for Venus fans to swallow, but the naked reality is that Venus is showing signs of being mentally worn out. She routinely breaks the golden rule in tennis: never beat yourself. Venus is capable of winning a string of 38-minute, 6-2, 6-1 matches, but these days you can almost count on her to play at least one horrific, error-strewn match. She simply makes too many errors these days, and her serve hasn't been as reliable as in the past.

1. The record for number of games in a fifth set at a major will be broken. They play a fifth-set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open, and a tiebreaker officially counts as one game. So even if that tiebreaker ends, oh, 70-68, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut can rest easy.