US Open: Last 16 preview.
With the first week of the US Open completed and (almost) all of the big names still in the tournament it is time to preview the business end of the tournament. Of the top three, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have looked immensely comfortable in coasting through the early stages while Andy Murray has appeared a little shaky, not least in his third round, four set slugfest against Feliciano Lopez. David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro are also still in contention with 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 9 seed John Isner the highest ranked players to fall.
Fourth Round Matches
Roger Federer (1) v Mardy Fish (23)
Federer appears to be playing at the top of his game again, breezing through the opening week with a minimum of fuss. Expect Fish to play him tough with the fervent backing of the New York faithful, as he did in Cincinnati two weeks ago, but Federer’s serve and forehand will eventually take control of the match and carry him to another straight sets victory.
Federer in 3
Nicolas Almagro (11) v Tomas Berdych (6)
Grudge match. Berdych refused to shake Almagro’s hand after their Australian Open 4th round match earlier this year; the Czech unhappy after Almagro had blasted a ball at him from close range. This should be a brutal match, with continuous, unrelenting trading from the baseline. Berdych got the better of Almagro in Melbourne, owns the head-to-head record 6-3, and is regaining his form after a terrible summer but the Spaniard will take this in a deciding set; his glorious single handed backhand and greater reserve of mental fortitude the keys to success.
Almagro in 5
Andy Murray (3) v Milos Raonic (15)
After watching Murray labour to victory over Lopez on Saturday night, Raonic will certainly fancy his chances of causing the upset in the night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday. Murray looked lethargic and powerless at times during his nervy victory over the Spaniard and Raonic will hope to exploit Murray’s fatigue tonight. However, the Scot has proved before that he raises his performance under the lights at Flushing Meadows and has an outstanding record against huge servers like Raonic. The Canadian has won their only meeting; but that was on clay and probably has no bearing on this evening’s contest. Murray should be able to neutralise Raonic’s monster serve effectively and will prevail in a tense struggle due to his superior consistency from the ground.
Murray in 4
Marin Cilic (12) v Martin Klizan
Cilic’s career has stagnated rather similarly to Tomas Berdych’s but he couldn’t have picked a more accommodating 4th round opponent. Klizan may have shocked Tsonga in the second round, but the giant Croat will have way too much for him here. Expect Cilic to win in straight sets with Klizan eventually capitulating under a barrage of suffocating groundstrokes.
Cilic in 3
Janko Tipsarevic (8) v Philip Kohlschreiber (19)
Kohlschreiber produced the biggest shock of the third round, taking down the highly fancied John Isner. The German has the tools to trouble the higher ranked Tipsarevic, particularly a surprisingly thunderous serve and a beautiful single handed backhand (as an aside, it is intriguing that the only 4 players in the top 32 with single handers have all made the last 16). However, Kohlschreiber could suffer an emotional letdown from his titanic 5 set victory over Isner and Tipsarevic should prove slightly more reliable in the ground game, despite his own flaky start to the tournament.
Tipsarevic in 4
David Ferrer (5) v Richard Gasquet (13)
Grind. Grind. Grind. Ferrer holds a 7-1 head-to-head record against Gasquet and he’ll bury the Frenchman into the ground with his unique brand of relentless tennis tomorrow evening. Gasquet’s suspect temperament will be exposed by Ferrer, a man who gives absolutely nothing away. This should be close for the first two sets but Ferrer will prove slightly tougher in the clutch, choking the life from Gasquet early on with his remarkably deep and utterly consistent groundstrokes, before pulling away in the third set.
Ferrer in 3
Juan Martin Del Potro (7) v Andy Roddick (20)
This will probably be the night match on Arthur Ashe tomorrow night. And this will probably be the last game of professional tennis that Andy Roddick ever plays. Despite an inevitably raucous New York crowd, Roddick just doesn’t have quite enough game at this stage of his career to compete with the nuclear power of Del Potro. Inspired by the occasion, Roddick will pull out a set before being overwhelmed by the potency and penetration of the Argentine’s groundstrokes.
Del Potro in 4
Stanislas Wawrinka (18) v Novak Djokovic (2)
MATCH OF THE ROUND. Wawrinka is a solid player, with a gorgeous single handed backhand, and certainly more capable of going deep into Grand Slams than he has shown during his career. In the surprise of the round, I expect Wawrinka to play the match of his life and push the hitherto untested Djokovic to the very limit. Ultimately Djokovic will have a little too much heart, but the Wawrinka’s ground game could just test Djokovic in a way that he might not expect. The Swiss hit the ball beautifully in his victory over Dolgopolov in the last round and his shots noticeably penetrate the court more at the US Open than other majors. Djokovic to steal it in a classic.
Djokovic in 5