Wednesday, September 03, 2014

2014 US OPEN: Men's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the men's quarterfinals at the US Open for 2014. Last year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] vs Andy Murray (GBR) [8]. This mouth watering match-up between major champions is a reprise of the thrilling 2012 U.S. Open championship match which was won by Murray. In fact, both major titles that Murray has won have come at the expense of Djokovic, despite the fact the Serb leads their head-to-head 12-8 overall (10-6 on hard courts). So, really, the fact that this match is a quarterfinal and not on the final weekend probably helps Djokovic. Murray has only beaten one top 10 player since winning Wimbledon last year, and that was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round before. Djokovic is coming off a bad summer of results after finally capturing his 7th major title at Wimbledon over Roger Federer. However, Djokovic has been the best hard-court player in the world for the last four years, reaching four consecutive finals in New York and winning three titles in Australia. He is playing in his 22nd consecutive quarterfinal and is the #1 player in the world. With all these intangibles in his favor, why bet against him? Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs Milos Raonic (CAN) [5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) [10]Nishikori  has to win an epic 5-set battle with his Generation Next rival Milos Raonic in the fourth round which lasted more than four hours and ended at 2:26am (bizarrely, tying the record again for the latest match finish at the U.S. Open). Nishikori has only been in one major quarterfinal and there have always been concerns that the talented but injury-prone Japanese player has the stamina to go deep in a slam. Meanwhile Wawrinka has been playing Top 3 hard court tennis for the past two years and winning the 2014 Australian Open title and extending Djokovic to five sets in a 2013 U.S. Open semifinal loss reflect that fact. Once you take into account that Nishikori has never beaten the Swiss player in their two previous meetings, the odds start to look worse and worse for the upset happening here. Mad Professah's pick: Wawrinka.

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [6] vs Marin Cilic (CRO) [14]. For some reason these two players tend not to have close matches in the eight career meetings, despite their similarity in appearance and style (both are above 6-foot-5 with gigantic serves and powerful groundstrokes on both sides). Berdych  leads their rivalry 5-3 and has been a permanent fixture in the Top 5 for the last several years and has a breakout run to a major final at Wimbledon 2010. Cilic did very well to get past Gilles Simon in the 4th round despite losing to the wily Frenchman in four previous final-set matches. Berdych has been having a relatively bad year (for him) with only one title (Cilic has two) but actually in the majors he has not been doing badly, with two quarterfinals and a semifinal run so far. What stands out is the third round loss he suffered to Cilic at Wimbledon. Cilic is one of the most motivated players on tour, since last year he couldn't even play this tournament because he was suspended for an inadvertently failed drug test. I think the Croat will use that perceived injustice to fuel him to his very first major semifinal berth. Mad Professah's pick: Cilic.

Roger Federer (SUI) [2] vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [7] Gael Monfils (FRA) [20].  This will be a tougher match then it looks on paper. Despite Federer having a 7-2 head-to-head advantage over the French super-athlete, Monfils has nearly limitless potential, and at age 28, appears to be settling down to try and achieve legacy-building results. Monfils has been in 5 major quarterfinals and is 1-4 at this level. In the biggest match of his career, he lost to Federer at Roland Garros in 2008 semifinals. However Monfils fans (and I am one of them) can take heart in the fact that through four rounds at the U.S. Open this year Monfils is yet to lose a set and the two wins La Monf does have over Federer occurred on hard courts. In fact, the two met just a few weeks ago in Cincinnati and Federer was lucky to pull out at 6-4 4-6 6-3 win on his way to the title. Another point to note is that Monfils was able to dismiss the talented Grigor Dimitrov, whose game is not dissimilar to Federer's with huge serving and a hefty dose of luck. If it gets to a fifth set, anything can happen, but I suspect it won't get that far (unfortunately. Mad Professah's pick: Federer.

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