2010 US Open – Nick’s Pick – Men’s Singles Quarterfinals
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Robin Soderling (SWE)
Federer was able to fight off the pesky Austrian, Jurgen Melzer, in straight sets and he has still not dropped a set throughout this tournament. Federer’s incredible streak of reaching the at least the semis in Grand Slam tournaments came to an end earlier this year at the French Open and then he lost in the quarters of Wimbledon. He needs a win here to show everyone that he can still be the best player in the world on the biggest stage.
Soderling dropped the first set to Albert Montanes in the fourth round, but bounced right back and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarters for the second straight year. He summer started out well as he reached the quarters at Wimbledon and the finals at Bastad, but then he lost early at Canada and Cincinnati. A win here would turn that around quickly!
Soderling is 1-12 against Federer and beat him earlier this year in the quarters of the French Open. They did meet last year in the quarters of the US Open and Federer beat him in four sets. Soderling has proved to himself and the world that he is the real deal. He knows he belongs in the top ten and in the finals of majors and it is showing on the court. He has a big forehand and even though he has a big swing, he is able to keep the ball in play because of his athleticism and foundation. His backhand is consistent, he has an excellent serve and he moves tremendously for a big guy. Federer’s playing at his peak level right now and it even shows during the warm-up. He is brimming with confidence and using his full arsenal on shots. There is nothing these two don’t know about each other and I fully expect Soderling to make this a very competitive match. I have to give the edge to Federer, but this is going to be a long match.
Nick’s Pick – Federer in 4 or 5 sets
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Monfils won the all-French battle between he and Gasquet in the fourth round to reach the quarters of the US Open for the first time in his career. The only thing you can predict about Monfils is that he is going to do something you’ve probably never seen before on a tennis court. He is a wildcard and the fans love seeing him play!
Djokovic handled Mardy Fish fairly easily in the fourth round and definitely played some of the best tennis I’ve seen from him in a while. After a first round scare from Viktor Troicki, Djokovic has settled down nicely and hasn’t dropped a set in three matches. He’s been to at least the semis the last three years and I am sure he doesn’t want that streak to end!
Djokovic is 4-0 against Monfils and hasn’t beaten him three times on hard courts in the past (including a win over him five years ago in the first round of the US Open). This is going to be a very interesting and entertaining match. No matter what anyone says, Monfils is going to stay way behind the baseline and get to just about everything. This hurts him though because it allows his opponents to breathe easy when he hits offensive shots because they know they have time to get to them. On the other hand, Djokovic is going to try and take the ball early and control the court. It’s really a big contrast in styles. Both men are playing excellent tennis and I could see this match going either way. It’s supposed to be a little more humid tomorrow and there is a chance of rain, so if the heat turns up I give a little edge to Monfils. Overall, Djokovic’s constant pressure and his consistency should enable him to win so I am going with the Djoker!
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 4 sets
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Youzhny advanced to his second Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year with a four-set win over Tommy Robredo in the Round of 16. He hit a ridiculous amount of winners (50) and broke Robredo four times to win the match. This is his second appearance in the quarters of the US Open after he reached the semis back in 2006.
Wawrinka reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career with a five-set marathon victory over Sam Querrey in the fourth round. That comes on the heels of a stunning upset of Andy Murray in the round before. Wawrinka is clearly playing excellent tennis and it’s going to take a great effort to stop him.
These two veterans have met four times previously with each player winning two matches. They did play earlier this year in Miami and Youzhny won that in three sets. We have two tough cookies here in this match. Both like standing close to the baseline and hitting as hard as they can. Both are counter punchers and both are hard-nosed and will fight. However, I feel Wawrinka is more comfortable coming forward and winning points at the net as he did against Querrey and Murray. He can also mix in drop shots for winners and that has been very effective for him. I am surprised that no one has been able to break down his one-handed backhand, so if Youzhny can take advantage of that, watch out! If Wawrinka can continue to play at the level he has been and he maintains his mental focus, I give the edge to him. This is not going to be a short match though, so don’t make any appointments around it!
Nick’s Pick – Wawrinka in 4 of 5 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Nadal continued rolling as he beat fellow Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, in straight sets Tuesday night. He still has not dropped his serve in any match so far throughout the tournament and if he keeps that up I am not sure anyone can beat him. A win here would put him in the semis for the third straight year.
Verdasco came from two sets down to beat David Ferrer in the fifth-set tiebreaker to reach the quarters for the second straight year. It was an absolutely incredible match that lasted close to four and a half hours and ended with Verdasco lying on the court after hitting a great winner. He better get plenty of rest because Nadal will not step off the gas once this match starts.
To say Nadal has Verdasco’s number is an understatement. These two Spanish lefties know each other so well and Nadal has an untarnished 10-0 record against Verdasco. Their last meeting on a hard court (2009 Aussie Open semis) did go five sets though so Verdasco has that to look back to. The physical training that Gil Reyes has instilled in Verdasco has made him one stubborn mule. Everyone thought he was going to lose that match against Ferrer, and he refused to relent and he fought like heck and I was really excited to see that. Having said that, the physical toll that, that match took on him could have a negative effect during this match. Playing Nadal is rough on anyone and it will be especially tough coming off a match like that.
The difference here is the number of weapons each player has. If something goes wrong with one of Nadal’s shots, he has so many more to rely on. If the same happens with Verdasco, I don’t think he has as much to fall back on. I have so much respect for both men and they are great for the game, but I have to give the edge here to Nadal.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 4 sets