US Open Mens Semi-final Preview

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Top Half semi-final – R. Nadal vs J. Del Potro.

Preview by Sanket Shah

Federer vs Nadal for the first time in the Big Apple. The 38th chapter of, arguably, the greatest rivalry our sport has witnessed. So much that ticket prices for Friday soared to 700 USD the moment Federer clinched the second set against the comeback baby, Juan Martin Delpotro.

However, the tennis gods maintained the jinx and once again denied the New York crowd a chance to witness the old foes locking horns in the Arthur Ashe arena. The culprit this year was none other than the tower of Tandil, Juan Martin Del Potro who is just two match wins away from scripting one of the most inspired injury comebacks of all time.

This brings us to the marquee matchup on Friday night between two of the fiercest forehands on the men’s tour.

PC: Reuters

If Nadal is a fortress that cannot be broken into, the Del Potro’s forehand is more of a cannon shot than a tennis shot. Two former champs at the US open with contrasting styles of play and a significant point to prove, tennis fans could not have asked for more in an other wise injury hit and gloomy USO.

Road to semifinal and current form

Round R. Nadal J. Del Potro
1 Def. D. Lajovic 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 Def. H. Laaksonen 6-4, 7-6, 7-6
2 Def. T. Daniel 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 Def. A. Menendez 6-2, 6-3, 7-6
3 Def. L. Mayer 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 Def. R. Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
4 Def. A. Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 Def. D. Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4
QF Def. A. Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, Def. R. Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4

 

PC: AFP

Barring the first couple of rounds, where Nadal is traditionally rusty and a bit shaky, he has looked in complete control over his game. He has been ruthless in the second week of the tournament, a trait which he shows when he is confident and in form. Nadal also won more than 75 percent of his service points in his quarter final against Rublev, sending clear details about his form.

PC: Getty Images

Del Potro, on the other hand, was nearly on his next flight back home, when he was match points down against the never- say – lose Austrian, Dominic Thiem. Some insane crowd support, terrific tennis and the Austrian’s inability to crush and close it on crucial moments saw the Argentine claw his way back into the match to get a 2009 rematch against Federer.  He overpowered and outplayed a tired Federer to set up his clash with Nadal.

Keys to the match and recommended pattern of play

For Nadal, the defining factor, like always will remain how he manages to find his first serve. Nadal would want to stay away from the Del Potro forehand and he would love to find himself in long rallies from his own forehand to the Del Potro backhand and when the inevitable slice comes up, he would want to run around it and put the heavy ball loaded with RPMs into any corner of the court. One thing is for certain, if Nadal manages to play this game for a larger part of the match, he will find himself in Sunday’s showpiece final.

For Delpotro, there is only one way to overpower the Spanish bull and that is to keep unloading forehand after forehand into the Nadal forehand. The older, slower Nadal makes more errors from his own forehand wing against the flatter and harder balls and Delpotro would want to exploit that. Delpotro would want to keep the points short as the longer he is in the rally, the tougher it will get for him.

Verdict

Nadal will close out the match in four tight sets as the heavy angled forehand of Nadal will be too much for the Delpo backhand to defend.

Bottom half semi-final – P. Carreno Busta vs. K. Anderson.

Preview by Sudeep Sodani

The U(p)S(et) Open 2017’s mens draw started off with two of the big four dropping out. The focus was then was on the top of half of the draw and a potential Fedal semifinal. Surprisingly, as the past 10 days have unfolded, the bottom half of the draw became more of discussion amongst the tennis fans. And now, we find ourselves in the curious position of having two unassuming (or rather, perceived as) characters fighting for a place in the final – 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and the 28th seed South african Kevin Anderson. However, looking back at their run at the US Open this year, it is safe to say that these two players have played the best tennis of their career. Anderson has made it to the USO QF once already in 2015. However, this is quite a breakthrough from Carreno Busta. He believes his semi-final showing is him coming out of the shadows of Nadal. Both men are coming into this semi-final with a lot of belief and a lot to fight for.

Road to semifinal and current form

Round P. Carreno Busta K. Anderson
1 Def. E. King 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5) Def. J. Aragone 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
2 Def. C. Norrie 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 Def. E. Gulbis 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
3 Def. N. Mahut 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 Def. B. Coric 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
4 Def. D. Shapovalov 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) Def. P. Lorenzi 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4
QF Def. D. Shwartzman 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 Def. S. Querrey 7-6(5), 6-7(9), 6-3, 7-6(7)

 

PC: Monika Graff/UPI

Carreno Busta has NOT dropped a set in his 5 matches. That in itself is a testament to the great tournament he is having. Having spent only 10 hours on court, Pablo should have a lot of strength in his legs to stay strong at the baseline. He calls himself a “safe” player, a non-risk taker. His temperament against the rising teenager Shapavolov proved he can maintain his calm and thinks more about the next point rather than looking back at his mistakes. His doubles experience has helped him improve his net game (74% net points won this tournament). He has defended 76% of his break points and against Shapavolov he brought out the big serve in key moments.

PC: Kathy Willens/AP

Mr. Anderson (no Matrix reference intended :P) on the other hand is coming in with solid performances, albeit not in straight sets. His all-round power game has been on song. His big serve has borne fruit for him – he has won an outstanding 82% of his first serve points. He’s bettered Pablo in break points saved – 85% of break points saved in the tournament. He goes for his shots, unlike Pablo, and his winners helped him power through his opponents.

Keys to the match and recommended pattern of play

For Carreno Busta, a tactical play to keep the ball low on Kevin Anderson would work well. Pablo has done a good job of defending break points, but at the same time has given his opponents 37 break points in 3 matches. He will need to focus on his first serve – and that too body serves for Anderson in critical points – and hold his fort. Second serve return is critical for Pablo as well. Pablo will do well to use angles to push Kevin out of court and play to the open court or use deep slices to put Kevin out of his rhythm.

Kevin will need to maintain his first serve win percentage and keep the points short with the strength of his serve. Kevin will look to power through and capitalize on opportunities, come to the net, and finish of the point. The longer Pablo is in the point, the more chance he has to change things and put Kevin out of sorts. Kevin should look focus on finishing the point on his own terms.

Verdict

K. Anderson beats P. Carreno Busta in 4 sets

For all the talk about a possible all-Spanish final, Pablo (at least) will not be able to hold up his end of the bargain. Anderson has big weapons to create a destructive force and will come through to beat Carreno Busta in 4 sets, improve his H2H to 3-0 and make the first ever grand slam final of his career.

PC: SkySports

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