We have been spoiled by the sheer quantity of legitimately epic Grand Slam matches witnessed in recent years and the 2012 US Open appears to be building to yet another glorious crescendo. Each of the four Quarter Finals has the potential to be a captivating match, with the subsequent permutations for the semis and final promising all-time great games and timeless classics.
Bearing in mind that I’m currently on a roll (7/8 correct in the 4th round) here is an in-depth preview – with predictions – of the Flushing Meadows Quarter Finals.
Quarter Final Matches
Roger Federer (1) v Tomas Berdych (6)
This may prove a tricky encounter for Federer as it should be the first genuine test that he has faced in the tournament. After sweeping imperiously past Donald Young, Bjorn Phau and Fernando Verdasco, the Swiss then enjoyed a walkover to the Quarter Finals after Mardy Fish’s withdrawal. Federer has looked totally untroubled so far, but Berdych – while in possession of a somewhat suspect psychology – has the huge weapons that are essential to trouble Federer on a hard court. When Berdych gets it right, he is practically unstoppable. However, it is severely doubtful that he will get it right for three sets tonight.
Pre-tournament, I predicted that this matchup would occur and that Federer would take it in straight sets; however, Berdych is playing with more confidence than expected and crushing his flat groundstrokes on both sides. The first two sets will be split before Federer begins to take control in a tight third and then a comfortable clincher.
Federer in 4
Andy Murray (3) v Marin Cilic (12)
Murray started the tournament inconsistently, with scratchy performances against Alex Bogomolov and Feliciano Lopez bookending an authoritative showing against Ivan Dodig. Fortunately, the Scot appears to be moving through the gears – destroying the much hyped Milos Raonic in the 4th round with a splendid display of powerful ballstriking and fleetness of foot and mind. Cilic has progressed quietly to this stage, and while he has beaten Murray at Flushing Meadows before, his confidence for this matchup will be built on a sandy foundation due to Murray’s utter dominance on every other occasion they’ve played.
Expect Murray to continue serving well and dictating the points with his steadily improving forehand. Cilic has the power to stay with Murray from the baseline – enough power to make it difficult for him at times – but ultimately Murray’s superior movement around the court and greater consistency off both wings should be enough to take control of the match early on and keep it for the duration.
Murray in 3
David Ferrer (5) v Janko Tipsarevic (8)
David Ferrer is an utterly fascinating player, one of the most underrated in the history of the game (an aside that I’m currently analysing and writing up currently) – and surely a multiple major winner in any other era. Possessing slightly better skills in every department than he is ever given credit for, Ferrer – often unfairly portrayed as a mere roadrunner – should progress to his second US Open semi-final with effort to spare against the occasionally flaky Serbian.
Tipsarevic undoubtedly has the requisite power game that can trouble Ferrer on the hard court, but is slightly too inconsistent (the reason his career has reached a – admittedly impressive – plateau of 8 in the world) to break the relentless Spaniard down over 5 sets. While he will never penetrate Tipsarevic’s defences with impunity, Ferrer will eventually wear the Serb down with his heavy forehand and supremely consistent ballstriking – increasing the possibility that he could grind his way to what would be a genuinely deserved Grand Slam title.
Ferrer in 4
Novak Djokovic (2) v Juan Martin Del Potro (7)
This is potentially the match of the tournament. Defending champion Novak Djokovic taking on the only man outside of the ruling triumvirate in men’s tennis to have won a Grand slam since 2005. After struggling with a variety of injuries following his US Open success in 2009, Del Potro has finally appeared close to his peak again, and has moving menacingly through the draw so far. Djokovic will serve more consistently and move better than Del Potro (better than anyone in the history of the game, perhaps?) but his defence will be tested to the limit under the forehand onslaught that the Argentine always bring to the court.
While Djokovic has looked close to his invincible best thus far at Flushing Meadows, I’ll stick with my pre-tournament prediction – Del Potro taking him down in a blaze of monstrous forehands, stinging backhands and huge serving. This is dependent upon his recovery from victory over Andy Roddick – and whether he can sustain that physical and mental effort over a major tournament is yet to be seen – but Del Potro can destroy anyone in the world on his day. This is his day.
Del Potro in 5