Tuesday, September 05, 2017

2017 US OPEN: Men's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's quarterfinals at the US Open for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinalsThis year I have also predicted the women's quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] vs Andrey Rublev (RUS) David Goffin (BEL) [9] Nadal and Federer have never played at the U.S. Open despite playing over 150 matches between the two of them in New York. Now they are both just one match away from meeting in the semifinals on Friday. Nadal will not even have to face a seeded player as 19-year-old Andrey Rublev became the first of the #NextGen ATP players (that includes people like Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Denis Shapovalov and, technically, Sasha Zverev) to reach a major quarterfinal by dismissing a clearly injured David Goffin in straight sets before a subdued crowd that included yours truly on the wretched temporary Louis Armstrong court. Nadal has not been playing his best tennis but he looked sharp in eliminating the always-tricky Aleksandr Dolgopolov and now the chances seem very high that Federer and Nadal will meet for the fourth time in 2017, with Federer having won all 3 previous meeting, but is still down 14-23 in their storied head-to-head. Rublev is clearly talented, but is a 19-year-old playing in his first major quarterfinal going to beat a 15-time major champion? He's good, but not that good. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] vs Juan Martin Del Potro (ESP) [24] Dominic Thiem (AUT) [6] In the highlight of the tournament (and almost certainly one of the best matches of the year), Juan Martin del Potro came back from losing the first two sets 6-1 6-2 in under an hour to defeat the #6 player in the world, Dominic Thiem of Austria. For sheer melodrama and emotional wallop, this match was exceptional. Del Potro has a special place in tennis fans' hearts because he is a really nice guy and he has mouth-dropping power. That he continues to persevere after having ridiculously bad luck with injury after beating Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final is inspirational. Sadly, I didn't have a ticket to Grandstand while the match was being played but I was able to be part of the standing room only to see him save two match points (down 3-5 in the 4th set) with two consecutive service aces and then dominate the 4th set tiebreak after Thiem blinked when serving for the match at 5-4. In the fifth set everything was on serve until Thiem doublefaulted on breakpoint and match point at 4-5. It will be a match that will be talked about for years! The end result is probably good for Federer, because I think he has a better chance against del Potro (who he leads 12-5 head-to-head instead of Thiem who actually leads his head-to-head with Federer 2-1! Since Del Potro mostly uses slice on his backhand instead of bludgeoning the ball on both wings I think an in-form Federer should not have much to worry about, and will probably enjoy the chance of revenge for the 2009 loss. Mad Professah's pick: Federer.

Sam Querrey (USA) [17] vs Kevin Anderson (RSA) [27].  Sam Querrey is just going from strength to strength as he approaches nearly 30 years old. Many think of him as a smaller, lesser John Isner but Querrey is showing that he may be the more significant player in the end, having delivered two major upsets at Wimbledon in the last two years by defeating two defending champions (Djokovic in 2016 and Murray in 2017). Also, one round after Isner was dispatched by the serve-and-volley skill of Mischa Zverev, Querrey showed how one defeats such a tactic (with blazing passing shots). Honestly, Querrey's dismissal of Zverev in 77 minutes losing only 5 games was as close to being in the zone as we have seen this tournament and is probably the second best match of the tournament (behind Del Potro-Thiem). Anderson tends to play his best tennis in New York and these two play a very similar style of big man tennis which is basically reached its peak in the play of Marin Cilic. In these situations the edge goes to the better mover and that would be Querrey. Mad Professah's pick: Querrey.

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) [12] vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG) [29] Lucas Pouille (FRA) [16].  This was the part of the draw most affected by the withdrawal of Andy Murray as the #2 seed after the draw was announced on the Friday before the tournament started.  Schwartzman defeated #5 seed Marin Cilic and #16 seed Lucas Pouille en route to reaching his first major quarterfinal. Many are remarking on the power and stamina of the diminutive Colombian (he's 5-foot-7).  Schwartzman leads the tour at the percentage of service return games won in 2017 (ahead of World #1 Nadal who is at #2 in this stat) so you can see that he is a tough out. However I was courtside for his Pouille victory and he was clearly struggling with an upper thigh injury (heavily strapped and he wasn't moving that well after he won the first two sets). Carreno Busta is playing his best tennis and is going for his second major quarterfinal of the year after defeating the darling of the tournament, 18-year-old  Canadian phenom, Dennis Shapovalov who dismissed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  in straight sets in the second round. In some since it doesn't matter who wins this match because I don't think they will be reaching the final, but I still go with the Spaniard. Mad Professah's pick: Carreno Busta.

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