2011 US Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Third Round
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)
This is the first real test for Federer, as Cilic comes into this match playng great tennis and he should be full of confidence. I said before the tournament that I liked Federer’s chances of winning this event, and he has done nothing so far to change my opinion.
Cilic has beaten two of the best up-and-comers in the world in Ryan Harrison and Bernard Tomic and both times I have picked him to lose! Well, I guess I am going to try my luck again with him!
Federer is 2-0 against Cilic, which includes a win over him earlier this year in Monte Carlo. Cilic has played some unbelievable tennis in the first two rounds and he will have to play even better to knock off Federer. His groundstrokes are excellent, he has a sonic serve and for a big boy he moves really well. He thrives off of pace, and that is where I think Federer can make an impact. Federer has the ability to change the pace and play with more variety than Harrison or Tomic did. He also has the big serve to get out of tough positions and he isn’t making very many mistakes right now. I think Cilic can win a set and keep it interesting, but I have to pick Federer to advance.
Nick’s Pick – Federer in 4 sets
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Djokovic almost pulled off the rare feat of triple-bageling and opponent in the second round as he beat Carlos Berlocq 6-0, 6-0, 6-2. What can I say about Djokovic that hasn’t been said before this year? The man is playing some of the best tennis in the history of the game and there appears to be no end in sight!
Davydenko has been as high as #3 in the world, but injuries and age have started to catch up to him. He still has some good tennis left in him though as he beat Nadal earlier this year and almost won Munich.
Djokovic is 4-2 against Davyenko and the two just met in Canada were Djokovic won 7-5, 6-1. A few years ago this match would been a quarterfinal of semifinal, but that isn’t the case anymore. I watched Davydenko’s whole match against Potito Starace in the second round and he still moves well, has the solid groundstrokes and can get free points off his serve. Starace stood well behind the baseline though which gave Davydenko more time to recover before each shot. That is definitely not going to happen in this match. Djokovic loves to catch the ball early, on the rise, and keep his opponents off-balance. As I have said recently, right now, Djokovic is playing at a level that we have never seen in the sport. He has no weakness in any part of his game and he can place the ball anywhere he wants. I look for Djokovic to continue his amazing 2011 with a straight-set victory here.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 3 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. David Nalbandian (ARG)
After a rather long (for his standards) first round match, Nadal was only out on the court for a little over an hour in his second round win over Nicolas Mahut. After winning the first two sets, the Frenchman Mahut was forced to retire with an abdominal injury. A solid win for Nadal and that should give him some more confidence.
Nalbandian knocked off Ivan Ljubicic in four sets to reach the third round of the US Open for the second straight year. Nalbandian has been hampered by injuries over the last few years, but when he was healthy he was definitely a threat to go deep into every tournament.
This is the fifth career meting between these two and they have split their previous four. Their last battle came in the Round of 32 in Miami in 2010 and Nadal won that in three sets. Nalbandian certainly isn’t the player he was a few years ago. He’s ranked #76 in the world and injuries have slowed him down. He has all the talent in the world, but his physical conditioning has never been where it could have. There is no way that I think he has enough in the tank to stand in and take the constant pounding of Nadal’s groundstrokes. Nadal is going to make Nalbandian hit difficult winners and that is not a recipe for success for the Argentine. Could Nalbadian win a set? Sure! But I just don’t see any way he wins this match.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 3 sets
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
It was a tale of two different Andy Murray’s in his five-set thrilling victory over Robin Haase. The first two sets he looked listless and out of energy and then he turned it on in the third set winning the next two easily. The fifth set was strange though as Murray was running away with it, Haase starting hitting winners again and all of a sudden he had ourselves one heck of a match. In the end though, Murray was just too much. A difficult win, but one that I think will help him moving forward.
Lopez hasn’t really faced a big challenge yet in his two matches, but that is about to change. He’s been to the fourth round at the US Open twice before (2007 ad 2010), but never further.
Murray is 5-0 against Lopez and beat him earlier this year in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in straight sets. Lopez has the big lefty serve as well as the powerful forehand. His movement is solid, but the difference here will be Murray’s return of serve. He has one of, if not, the best return of serve in the game and he is able to put pressure on his opponents at all times. Once the ball is in play, Murray should have the advantage. Now, if he comes out and plays like he did in the first two sets against Haase, Lopez will jump all over him. I don’t think Murray will let that happen again though and I look for him to advance in three tough sets or maybe four sets.
Nick’s Pick – Murray in 4 sets