We are oh so close to an historic Roger Federer v. Rafael Nadal Sunday US Open final. I don’t want to jinx it this soon but honestly, everything is pointing in that direction. Although there are some obstacles still left.
Last night Nadal did his part demolishing his good friend Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that ended just after 1am.
“I was ready for the late start and the hardest thing was for the fans to be here,” said Nadal who has yet to lose serve at the US Open. “This year I am healthy and hope to continue to play well and have my chances. To be in quarterfinals of the US Open without losing a set and without losing a serve, two things must work really well, the concentration and the serve.”
In the quarterfinals Thursday – likely Thursday night (more on that later) – Nadal meets another friend and countryman, Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco won what was arguably the match of the tournament (he called it the “greatest match of his life”) in a fifth set tiebreak win over his Spanish buddy David Ferrer out on Armtrong Tuesday evening.
The match went over 4-hours, 20-minutes and Verdasco needed every minute of it to overcome a 2-0 set hole to edge Ferrer. Verdasco, who appeared to be cramping at times, now has less than 48 hours to recover and refuel for a quarterfinal meeting with the fresh Nadal. To make things worse, Verdasaco is 0-10 career against Rafa winning just three sets. Advatange Nadal.
Ferrer-Verdasco wasn’t the only epic on the second Tuesday. In the afternoon, Stan Wawrinka out-toughed Sam Querrey on Arthur Ashe in a roller coaster ride of a match. It wasn’t great tennis but in the end Wawrinka was the mentally stronger and fitter player in 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win over Sam.
After consecutive four-hour matches, the win puts Wawrinka into his first career Slam quarterfinal against a relatively fresh Mikhail Youzhny tomorrow.
I have to feel for Sam who again comes up just short on the big stage and in a big moment. As I’ve said before, winning events in Memphis or the smaller events are great ways to fill up the trophy room, but the goal has to be higher. Sam’s loss also means no American men made it into the US Open quarterfinals for a second straight year.
“I don’t set my goals on what round do I want to make it to,” said Querrey. “It’s more just how I play and attitude out there and doing the right things. This has been a great week, and I left it all out there today and I didn’t get to the quarters. I’m bummed, but I did everything I could.”
As for today, this afternoon it’s Novak Djokovic against Gael Monfils. With all the talk of a possible Federer-Nadal final, Djokovic is again under the radar. But the Serb should not be taken so lightly.
Might Novak have turned the corner when he overcame the heat, the 2- set deficit and his countryman Victor Troicki in the first round? Quite possible. Since then Djokovic’s been ultra-sharp and I think today he notches his fifth straight win over Monfils.
Credit to Gael who seems to have finally stepped up his game this week, but I’m not convinced he can play enough offensive tennis today to beat Djokovic who I think will run the Frenchman around like a yo-yo.
In the evening, Federer gets a rematch with Robin Soderling. The Swede stunned Federer on a dreary, wet and windy day at the French Open. And last year in this round at the US Open, Soderling had Fed on the ropes in the fourth set.
“Look, he’s playing really well,” Federer said of Soderling. “We played each other last year here in the quarters, if I’m not mistaken, was the round. Started off well. Got off to a great two sets to love lead. He came back. We had two breakers after that. I expect it to be really tough, especially now that he’s gotten a taste of how to beat me. It’s up to me to clean up my game and put in a good performance.”
Said Soderling, “I think it’s always a very nice feeling to play against the world’s best. You know, it’s matches like that you train for. It’s matches like that I’ve been dreaming of playing since I started playing tennis, you know, playing at the big courts in the big tournaments. It’s very fun.”
This time around Federer has the services of Paul Annacone and he seems to be playing pretty well. Robin’s had an uneven summer since his French Open final, but he’s incredibly dangerous on any surface and in any sitatuation. If the powerful Swede serves well and connects with his forehand he can take out Roger for a second straight time (remember he had lost 12 straight to Fed). But I still see Fed staying perfect under the lights in Ashe.
In the women’s quarterfinals today I think both matches will be routine, straight-setters with Vera Zvonareva and Caroline Wozniacki coming out ahead.
WEDNESDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 AM
Not Before:1:00 PM
Kaia Kanepi(EST) vs. Vera Zvonareva(RUS)
Gael Monfils(FRA) vs. Novak Djokovic(SRB)
Caroline Wozniacki(DEN) vs. Dominika Cibulkova(SVK)
Robin Soderling(SWE) vs. Roger Federer(SUI)
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