Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2012 US OPEN: Men's Quarterfinal Preview, Part 1

The US Open really has some serious issues with the way they schedule the later rounds of the tournament, especially since any inclement weather can cause havok with the playing schedule. At Wimbledon on the second Monday all 4th round matches are played, on both the women's and men's sides, allowing the quarterfinals and semifinals to be leisurely scheduled over the remaining week days. Today is the second Wednesday of the tournament and we know the name of one women's semifinalist and 7 quarterfinalists, but the men's draw is still playing 4th round matches and no men's semifinalists are known yet. This is the second year in a row that the men's draw is being disrupted by rain. The idea that the semifinals and finals should be played on consecutive days is just a bad idea which happily has not been adopted by any of the other Grand Slam tournaments. Also, having a live open air sporting event which is subject to the vicissitudes of the weather is absolutely ridiculous in 2012. It's absolutely unsupportable that the USTA is planning a 1 billion-dollar overhaul of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center over the next few years and it will not include a roof!

Last year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals. This year I have made predictions for the women's quarterfinals and below are my predictions for the first two men's quarterfinals.

Roger Federer SUI (1) vs  Tomas Berdych CZE (6). The World #1 had a surprisingly easy path to his 34th consecutive major quarterfinal when Mardy Fish withdrew. His 6'5" Czech opponent is a familiar one; the two have played 15 times, with Berdych winning 4 times, which includes 3 of their last 6 matches. On hard courts Federer leads 5-3 and 4-1 in grand slam best-of-5 matches, but Berdych won their last major meeting in the 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinals. Many people have been focused on the potential showdown between Olympic Gold medalist Andy Murray  in the semifinal, but Berdych will most certainly not be an easy obstacle for Federer to get past. That being said, Federer has been playing absolutely excellent tennis, and he reached 6 consecutive finals here from 2003 to 2009, losing to Novak Djokovic in two instant classics in 2011 and 2010. This is Berdych's first quarterfinal in New York while it is Federer's 9th in a row. If Berdych serves out of his mind and blasts his groundstrokes on both sides and Federer has a bad day then Berdych could pull off the upset, but Federer is the ultimate big match player and has never lost in this round here before so I believe he will step up to reach yet another major semifinal in New York. Mad Professah's Pick: Federer.

Andy Murray GBR (3) vs  Marin Cilic CRO (12). These two players have met 7 times in their career with the British player enjoying a healthy 6-1 record. However the one win that the 6'5" Croatian player does own over Murray occurred 3 years ago in New York in the previous round, the round of 16. Murray is playing absolutely excellent tennis, which he demonstrated in his 4th round win over the talented Canadian youngster Milos Raonic, painfully highlighting the difference between a legitimate Top 20 player and a Top 5 player by winning in straight sets. Murray had his first breakthrough here in New York, reaching his first major final an amazing 5 years ago at age 20. For his size, Cilic has a surprisingly ineffective serve (Raonic's is much more powerful) and although he moves reasonably well and has solid groundstrokes, there is absolutely nothing that he does better than Murray, and Murray has weapons which can definitely hurt the Croat, such as his world-class foot speed and touch at the net. That should be enough to let Murray continue his path to a mouthwatering semifinal showdown. Mad Professah's pick: Murray.

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