It’s finally men’s semifinal day at the US Open. The last four include three guys many figured would make it – Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev – and outsider in Pablo Carreno Busta who has been this far in New York before.
Of course Carreno Busta is here courtesy of Novak Djokovic’s bad judgement, but credit to him, he was up a break when Djokovic made that mistake and he did outlast Denis Shapovalov Tuesdsay night.
The semifinals are also historic because the usuals are not here. No Djokovic, no Roger Federer and no Rafael Nadal. This is the first Grand Slam semifinal without them since the 2004 French Open. Remember that one? The nerves and throat-clutching are something we haven’t seen since. So maybe we’ll see a return of that this weekend, or maybe not.
On to my picks.
Pablo Carreno Busta v Alexander Zverev
In terms of class and talent, Zverev far and away exceeds Carreno Busta. But Carreno Busta has the heart, the will and the want. He’ll put in the work and he won’t go away.
Zverev is known for going on a walkabout and having lapses during matches, especially long ones.
Zverev beat the Spaniard in their only meeting in the 2018 Miami semifinal round. I think if Zverev plays up to his potential, he should win again today in straight sets — he’s better in every on-court category except movement and maybe at the net.
Carreno Busta is not a big server, so Alexander should get his looks. But the Zverev serve is the key. If he has an off day with the serve, he’ll be in trouble. If he serves well, cuts down the double faults, he’ll win and could win easily.
My guess is he’ll have a lapse somewhere, toss in a few doubles and drop a set. Otherwise, I like the firepower and offense of Zverev to prevail.
The Pick: Zverev in 4
Daniil Medvedev v Dominic Thiem
Thiem leads this head-to-head 2-1 but last summer Medvedev routed the Austrian in Canada. That’s not going to happen tonight. I don’t think.
Both have been playing extremely well all tournament. Medvedev hasn’t dropped a set, though he only played one player in the Top 75 that being his buddy Andrey Rublev.
Thiem has been destroying people, but he too has had some favorable matchups like Alex De Minaur, Marin Cilic though he hammered the talented 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Point is, they are both playing really well, both rested, both healthy. So it should be a fantastic match.
The key to me in this one is court position. Thiem stands so far back and on a fast court like this, a big, fast moving guy like Medvedev can take advantage. And that’s what I think happens.
The player closest to the baseline wins this slugfest. Remember Thiem pushed Djokovic to five in Australia and Medvedev got Rafael Nadal to a fifth a year ago. These can play and play on a big stage.
The Pick: Medvedev in 5
I make Zverev the biggest favorite of the day. But anything could really happen as we have already seen at the 2020 US Open. Zverev could be out of sorts and get blown out. Thiem could just get on a run and rip winners all evening.
Regardless of outcome, I think it’s safe to see we are starting to see some separation among the next generation of players. One of these guys will be next.
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