2011 Sony Ericsson Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Semifinals
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Mardy Fish (USA)
Not many of the top men would’ve beaten Kevin Anderson last night, but Djokovic is playing some of the best tennis I have ever seen. The first set was touch and go, but in the second set, Djokovic demonstrated his dominance. He is now 22-0 on the year and is looking for his fourth title in 2011.
I have to apologize to Mardy. I picked him to lose against Del Potro and Ferrer, and he proved me wrong both times! Congrats to you Mardy for playing so well, you have made everyone in America proud of what you’ve done and how you are handling yourself on the court. A win here would definitely be one of the best of his career, and would put him in the finals for the first time in 2011.
Djokovic is 5-0 against Fish and beat him twice last year. Fish has been one of the best stories throughout the tournament and his game has improved so much over the last couple of years. His groundstrokes are excellent, his movement is superb, and his serve is really booming. He was able to counter-punch and play offensively against both Del Potro and Ferrer and that was his key to success. That will be much more difficult against Djokovic.
When I look across the landscape of men’s tennis right now and I think about different aspects of the game, Djokovic is clearly playing the best in every facet. His serve, forehand, backhand, drop shot, movement, just everything is working at 110%. There isn’t one area of his game that he has a weakness in. I look for a competitive match with Fish, but in the end, Djokovic just has too much of everything.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 2 sets
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Federer needed to win only 3 games, before Gilles Simon had to retire due to a stiff neck in the quarterfinals. Since the draw came out, everyone has been looking forward to this match, and I am sure Federer is excited to get a chance to take down his biggest rival and show the world that he is still a threat to win the big tournaments.
At times, I wasn’t sure if Nadal was going to make it through his match last night against Tomas Berdych, but the man never gives up and he was able to win in three sets. He has the heart of a lion and his determination is amazing.
Nadal is 14-8 against Federer, and they split their two matches in 2010. Amazingly, this is the first time they have met in the USA since the finals of Miami in 2005 when Federer won that in five sets. These two men know each other very well, so there will be no surprises out there.
Nadal’s game is based on his ability to wear down his opponents both physically and mentally. His serve has improved dramatically over the last couple of years, his groundstrokes are heavy and take a toll on his opponents, and his movement is the best in the world. The man has no glaring weaknesses, and when you combine that with his will to win, you see why he is #1 in the world.
Federer has taken some body blows recently, but he is still a long way from being knocked down. He is good enough to beat anyone on any surface, and he can still come up with the big shots at the right times. He has every single shot in his bag, and watching him play is a thing of beauty.
If Federer tries to beat Nadal with power and go blow-for-blow with him he will go down. He has to mix it up, slice it, hit over it, hit drop shots, and really give Nadal different looks. That is the only way Federer can keep Nadal off-balance and pinned back behind the baseline. This going to be a very exciting match, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Who do you think is going to win and why?
Nick’s Pick – You pick the match!!