Friday, September 09, 2016

2016 US OPEN: Men's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the US Open for 2016. Last year I correctly predicted 0 of 2 women's semifinals and correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinalsSo far this year, I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals and 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals. I also predicted the women's semifinals this year.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1]
 vs Gael Monfils (FRA) [10] This is Gael Monfils' first major semifinal since 2008 (and only the second major semifinal of his career) while this is Novak Djokovic's 10th consecutive year he has made the semifinals of the U.S. Open (and his 31st career major semifinal). Head-to-head this is their thirteenth meeting and the Frenchman has lost every single encounter, and only their very first meeting, way back in 2005, was their only competitive match at a major (where they have played three times). However, this should not detract from Monfils' achievement. Now 30-years-old, Monfils has been playing some of his best tennis all year long. He won a rare title in Washington DC (over Ivo Karlovic) and at this year's U.S. Open Monfils is yet to lose a set through 5 rounds of play. This streak is almost certain to end in the semifinals. However, this is sports, and  anything can happen. With Andy Murray's departure from the tournament, perhaps Djokovic will get tight realizing that since he has a combined 41-6 record against the remaining players in the draw (12-0 Monfils, 10-2 Nishikori, 19-4 Wawrinka) in order to win his 13th  major title and reach the 3rd highest total of all-time, behind Roger Federer (17), Pete Sampras (14), Rafa Nadal 14). Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs Andy Murray (SUI) [2] Kei Nishikori (JPN) [6].   I did not expect either of these players to reach this semifinal; since I saw both Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori up close when I visited the U.S. Open on Labor Day I was very surprised that these two would be able to get past crowd favorites Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray, respectively. Both Nishikori have previously upended expectations. Nishikori did it at this very tournament two years ago, when he beat Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic to reach the final (and lose to Marin Cilic).  Wawrinka has also confounded expectations and broken through the trivalry at the top of men's tennis twice before, winning the 2014 Australia Open (d. Nadal) and the 2015 French Open (d. Djokovic). Can he now win his third major in three years? It's very possible. The head-to-head between Wawrinka and Nishikori is 3-2 in the Swiss player's favor. It is notable that Nishikori beat Wawrinka on his way to reaching the final here two years ago, but he has also lost to him in the 2015 Australian Open. On hard courts the two are evenly matched. The knock on Nishikori is that there is doubt that his body can take the repeated pounding of consecutive crushing 5-set matches, and he played a humdinger against Murray, winning 7-5 in the 5th set in just under 4 hours. Mad Professah's pick: Wawrinka.

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