Saturday, September 08, 2012

2012 US OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

The men's semifinals of the 2012 US Open are set. Last year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals. This year I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals1 of 2 of the first two men's quarterfinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals. Below are my predictions for the two men's semifinals.

 Roger Federer SUI (1) Tomas Berdych CZE (6) vs Andy Murray GBR (3). This was expected to be the blockbuster semifinal between two of the Big Three entered into this year's US Open, with many hoping it would rival the excitement of the amazing semifinals of recent years between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. But Tomas Berdych intervened to insert himself into the final four in New York, preventing Federer from  reaching this round for the first time since 2002. Interestingly, Berdych has a head-to-head advantage over his semifinal opponent, leading Murray 4 to 2, including 2 to 1 on hard courts and has even won the one time they played in a grand slam tournament (2010 Roland Garros Round of 16). Berdych has a very powerful serve and can slam the ball on both the backhand and forehand wings. Usually with a player as tall as he is (6'5"), movement around the court becomes suspect, thus giving an opening to an opponent who can absorb power and hit the ball into all four corners. Murray does have this ability, but Berdych's movement is actually pretty good, but nowhere as agile as the Brit's. Murray has power as well and enjoys being a counterpuncher. However, if Berdych plays as well as he did in dispatching Federer (he had less than 10 unforced errors in the first two sets and only 21 over the entire four-set match), he could score a second consecutive upset. I believe that Murray has gained the last missing piece of the puzzle he needed to win a major tournament, which was the mental belief that he could outlast his rivals. Mad Professah's Pick: Murray.

David Ferrer ESP (4) vs Novak Djokovic SRB (2). The defending champion has clearly become the best hardcourt player in the world over the last two years, winning the 2011 Australian Open, 2011 US Open and 2012 Australian Open titles. Ferrer has done very well to live up to his lofty #4 seeding thanks for the absence of his more celebrated (and talented) countryman Rafael Nadal. Ferrer is widely thought of as the most fit player on tour, although that conversation would probably have to always include Djokovic and Nadal, and a very tough player to beat, especially for his size and weight. However, Djokovic does enjoy an 8-to-5 head-to-head advantage against Ferrer, including 7-to-2 on hard courts and 3-0 in grand slam matches. Djokovic was able to survive a strong challenge from Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals despite excellent play from the 2009 US Open champion. There's nothing to suggest that Ferrer can do what del Potro could not. Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.

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