We are less than a week from the conclusion of the 2013 Grand Slam season, and things in both draws are going to form thus far. Serena Williams continued her domination rudely double-bageling birthday girl Carla Suarez-Navarro tonight in a quarterfinal content that felt like a first round mismatch. Because, really, it was.
But Serena was only following fellow No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s lead. Earlier on that same Ashe court the Serb hammered a depleted Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 in his fourth round match. Djokovic’s looked good, been efficient but it’s hard to know how these blowout wins over these patsies will help him later this weekend when he finally meets some serious competition.
For now, though, the 2011 US Open champion is content.
“Definitely today, second and third set have been,” Djokovic said. “Some of the best tennis that I’ve played on Arthur Ashe in my career. It all comes at a great time for me. It was something I was wishing to be more aggressive as the tournament progresses and to be able to stay committed to play every point, to win every point, regardless of what’s the score. So I’m very happy with my mental state, how I feel physically, and the way I played. You know, it’s definitely coming at the best possible time.”
Lost in the conversation is the fact Granollers had won his first three matches in FIVE SETS! Now, by the graces of the Draw God Djokovic will face his third straight guy who’s just played a 5-setter because next is Mikhail Youzhny. The veteran Russian, twice a US Open semifinalist, overcame breaks in the final two sets to turn away 2001 US Open winner Lleyton Hewitt.
“There was a lot of momentum changes, yeah, right from the start,” a disheartened 32-year-old Hewitt said. “He had a lot of different swings out there where we both played better at certain stages for three or four games. You know, it was hard for both of us to hold our serves at times as well out there. You know, in the end, he played the big games when he needed to. He didn’t give me too many cheap errors.”
Youzhny or Hewitt, it doesn’t matter. That guy won’t have there legs against an ultra-fresh though untested Novak.
“Well, probably pays its toll, the fact they have played five setters and they are coming in tired in the matches,” Djokovic said of his good fortune. “But I really don’t try to pay attention on my opponents during the matches. I have this very determined, you know, vision of what I need to do on the court. My goal is to win the matches whoever I play against.”
And that he will.
In the late match, Andy Murray struggled early on before gathering himself to pull away against Denis Istomin in four sets. Murray will play Stan Wawrinka who toughed out Tomas Berdych in four in a mild upset.
Berdych just seems destined to be a guy who’ll never get over that hump and become a regular contender on the final weekends. Credit to Wawrinka, he’s had a good year and he’s beaten Murray at the US Open before. It should be a good quarterfinal Thursday night.
Looking at tomorrow’s start of the men’s quarterfinals, here are my picks.
Rafael Nadal v Tommy Robredo
Both these guys are playing really well with confidence to boot. Robredo has been an unsung story this year. The former Top 5 player battled a career-threatening leg injury 18 months ago and since his return has played some remarkable tennis.
At the French Tommy won three straight 0-2 comebacks. Then Monday evening he destroyed a hapless Roger Federer for his first career win in 11 attempts over the Swiss. Now he’ll try to back up that win against Rafa. Unfortunately for the 31-year-old, that’s where this run ends.
Rafa has won all six meetings in their series and he’ll run Tommy ragged again. I do think Nadal might finally lose his serve, just not the match. Tommy doesn’t have the firepower like a Kohlschreiber does to hurt and trouble Rafa on a consistent basis.
And Nadal’s numbers and have numbingly good on his least favorite surface of late: 19-0 in 2013 on hardcourts winning 23 in a row dating back to that Federer loss at 2012 Indian Wells. This close to the end Rafa won’t falter here.
The pick: Nadal in three
Richard Gasquet v David Ferrer
I had picked Gasquet to emerge out of this weaker quarterfinal section but by beating Ernests Gulbis to do it. The Latvian of course disappointed once again. Ferrer usually doesn’t, especially in Slams. After a rocky summer Ferrer has found his footing thanks in large part to a favorable draw.
Ferrer did beat Janko Tipsarevic in the last round although let’s be honest, the Serb’s been a disaster for much of the year. So I can’t even put much stock in that win except that it was that close.
Still, Ferrer is such a tough player in Slams and he’s beaten Gasquet eight of nine times. And Richard, not known for his fitness unlike Ferrer, might be feeling it in the legs after that big 5-set win over Milos Raonic late on Monday.
But maybe Richard’s turning the corner. Maybe! He took care of business beating an ailing Tursunov last week and then saved a matchpoint to take down Raonic, both very losable matches. So I’m going to stick with my initial pick.
In this contest mentally and physically Ferrer’s the better of the two. No contest. However, on talent it’s a big edge to Richard. For once, or twice (he did beat Roddick in the QFs at Wimbledon), I think Gasquet, a former US Open junior champ, proves his worth and get his game clicking and he dumps Ferrer who maybe has slipped a bit this summer.
The pick: Gasquet in four
Did I really just pick Gasquet? Did I not learn anything from picking Gulbis to make the quarters?
The women’s Serena Invitational continues it’s quarterfinals also tomorrow with Roberta Vinci v Flavia Pennetta and in the evening Victoria Azarenka against Daniela Hantuchova. I’ll take Pennetta in three and Azarenka in two close ones. I do hope come Sunday it is Vika-Serena. That should be a good one.
ESPN2 has coverage all day of the matches.
WEDNESDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 12:00 pm Start Time
Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 pm Start Time
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Tommy Robredo (ESP) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
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