Friday, September 09, 2011

US OPEN 2011: Men's Quarterfinal Preview

The first two quarterfinals have already been completed (following my predictions precisely) so on Friday during the day the second two quarterfinals will be competed, consisting of the four winners of the 4th round matches that were postponed for two days due to rain: John Isner, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

Last year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinal matches and this year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals. Below are my predictions for the last two men's quarterfinal matches of the 2011 US Open.

John Isner USA (28) v. Andy Murray GBR (4). Interestingly, these two have only played once before, last year, at the 2010 Australian Open where Murray made it to the final, losing to Federer in straight sets. Frankly, I was surprised that Isner was able to take out Frenchman Gilles Simon in the round before. Although he has (probably) surpassed fellow American Andy Roddick as the most feared server in the world, he also shares the Roddick problem of being considered something of a "one note" wonder.  However, hard courts are definitely the 6'9" American's best surface and he has made his presence felt in 2011. It's difficult to make the quarterfinals of a major tournament without having multiple weapons, or a dollop of good luck. This is Isner's first major quarterfinal and Murray's tenth. Isner will most likely have a very partisan crowd backing him up, and Murray will delight in not having the weight of a nation's hopes weighing on his shoulders. The problem for Isnner is that he is playing Murray, who has been in 3 of  the last 7 hard court major finals (losing in all of them, but demonstrating his hard court bona fides) and is likely to reach his fourth.  PREDICTION: Murray.

Andy Roddick USA (21) v. Rafael Nadal ESP (2). Nadal holds a 6-3 career head-to-head over all but that falls to 3-all on hard courts. They have only played once in a major, back at the 2004 US Open when an 18-year-old Nadal was schooled by the defending US Open champion in three, not very competitive sets 7 years ago. I did not predict Roddick to get this far in the tournament, but I think, now that he has, he really, really wants to get further, and he believes that he can, especially in New York. The shorter the match is, the better it is for Roddick, because if the match goes into four or five sets, Nadal's superior fitness will become more and more of a factor.

However, I do think that Roddick is ready to make another move to get deep in a major, especially here in New York where he had his greatest success. Nadal is still reeling from his unprecedented five consecutive losses to Novak Djokovic earlier this year and really had an undistinguished preparation coming into the Open. He must realize that due to the weather he will be forced to play four best-of-5 set matches in four days in order to defend his title, potentially the last three being against Roddick, then Murray and then the winner of Djokovic/Federer. Even for the indefatigable Spaniard, that might make him want to say "no mas." PREDICTION: Roddick.

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