Wednesday, September 03, 2008

US OPEN 2008: Men's Quarterfinals Preview


Here are my predictions for the last major's men's quarterfinals of the year.

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Mardy Fish USA. Mardy Fish is replacing fellow American James Blake who went out to his "good friend" with nary a whimper in the third round 6-3 6-3 7-6(4). Fish has had some surprising results, beating former World #1 Roger Federer earlier this year at the Indian Wells semifinals in straight sets, but no result would be more surpising than beating the current World #1 (who happens to have lost one match since early May!). However, it is definitely possible, since Fish has the game to beat anyone when he is "in the zone" and Nadal has never made it past the quarterfinals in New York, where he has lost in this very round in the last two years. However, I think the third time will be the charm for the Spaniard, despite the New York crowd. PREDICTION: Nadal in 4 sets.

Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (17) vs.
Andy Murray GBR (6). What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force? The 19-year old Del Potro has been the second hottest player all summer, having won the last four (relatively small) tournaments he entered while most of the world's elite players were at the Olympics. Murray is at his career high, having won his first ATP Masters shield over Djokovic in Cincinatti and will be ranked #4 in the world (thanks to Davydenko's upset) on Monday for the first time. The two have only played once, with Murray winning on clay in Rome earlier this year. I actually would be interested to see Del Potro win because I want to see what would happen when the two hottest players meet in the semis, but I really think this is Murray's time, and he is itching for revenge for his loss to Nadal at Wimbledon. PREDICTION: Murray in 4 sets.

Andy Roddick USA (8) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3).This will probably be the best match of the four men's quarterfinals. The two have only played twice before, both times on hard courts in the last year or so and they have exchanged wins. Djokovic has been having a difficult time in the last few rounds, barely winning 4-6 6-2 6-3 5-7 6-3 against the pulchritudinous Tommy Robredo in the fourth round as well as a very tough 4-setter against the young, hard-hitting, very tall Maran Cilic 6-7(7) 7-5 6-4 7-6(0) in the third round. Roddick on the other hand swept past the very talented Fernando Gonzalez 6-4 6-2 6-1 to get to this quarterfinal and really only had a difficult match against the young, hard-hitting, very tall Ernest Gulbis 6-3 5-7 6-2 7-5. I had initially predicted that Djokovic would win this quarter but I have seen a lot of Roddick matches and I believe if he is the fresher, with a New York crowd behind him late at night, he may just come through. However, Djokovic loves playing against a hostile crowd and he will have nearly two days to recover from his near death experience against Robredo. PREDICTION: Roddick in 5 sets.

Nikolay Davydenko RUS (5) Gilles Muller LUX vs. Roger Federer SUI (2). This might have been the journeyman quarterfinal if Igor Andreev had kept on playing the way he did for the first two sets the entire match. Even so, Federer was pushed to the brink, only winning 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 3-6 6-3. Andreez had 54 winners to 42 errors compared to Federer's 66 winners to 60 errors(!). In the round before, Federer had 9 unforced errors in 3 sets of flawless tennis against the decidedly un-pulchritudinous Radek Stepanek. Muller is a hard-hitting lefty who gave Davydenko fits in the fourth round, pulling out a 4-set win 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-6(10), saving a handful of set points in the 4th. Federer would probably have preferred to play Davydenko who he has beaten 12 times in a row (and never lost to) since Muller is someone he has only beaten twice (and never lost to). However, he hasn't faced the player from Luxembourg since 2005 and probably has no idea how Muller plays. Howeve, having lost to another Gilles earlier in the summer, I believe he will take this match seriously. Federer is on an incredible record-setting streak of 17 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and I doubt the 130-ranked player in the world will prevent the World #2 from extending that streak to 18 no matter what his first name is. PREDICTION: Federer in 3 sets.


oddman said...

Like your predictions, mad prof. I'd agree, maybe quibble a little on the 5 sets for Roddick - he'll do it in 4. Hope it's a beatdown in 3! As for Gilles, I think he will take a set off Fed, so 4 for me.
Mostly I would love to see Andy Roddick pounding Novak all over the court.
And Vamos, Rafa!

oddman said...

Well, mad, you're spot on with the first two matchups. You really should get yourself a lottery ticket today.
Nice to see there were vocal crowd supporters for Rafa last night, although they were not as noisy as the beery bleary oafs cheering on Mardy. He is a fan fave for many in NY now. Makes my heart glad. Kudos to Mardy for trying, just could not keep that very high level of play in the first, and Rafa had the answer.
So glad they kicked out the 'fan' that yelled out during Rafa's serve. Boo hiss, you fool.