Querrey, Anderson, Carreno Busta and Schwartzman

Half of the QF round is set and, yes, this is the infamous 2017 bottom half.

But I’m not here to downplay any of this solid tennis – I’ve been doing that in earlier posts and on twitter (not a big twitterer but during majors, apparently).

Just got done watching Sam absolutely scold, ground and dismiss Zverev the Elder in their R16 match. I won’t go into this too much, but we all need to recognize the upper-2159696-45151339-640-360echelon level of tennis Querrey has played over the last year-plus. I’m not going to write a history of Sam Querrey here, but we may as well start with this latest run that has carried him tonight to the 2017 U.S. Open quarter-finals (simultaneously becoming top-ranked American) with his win over Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon 3R match that pretty much began Djokollapse (since that name will don the front-cover of one of my infamous Ebooks, Sam will be one of the minor characters in that stellar drama).

Jump to 2017. He wasn’t very notable early in the Australian stretch, Brisbane or Melbourne, but had a fine tournament in Acapulco that you all should remember.

From that post: “Did anyone else see the Kyrgios v Querrey? Sam is playing good tennis. His ball-striking, aside from his world-class serve – is very impressive. He lost his serve in that first set, but then pretty much put it on Kyrgios, pretty dismissive. Early in the second he smashed a ball into the stands, got booed, got a warning and then proceeded to breadstick the Aussie and out class him in the third, as well. His FH, BH and, of course, his serve provide quite the arsenal. I give the nod to Nadal because he’s brimming with confidence, but Sam – SO LONG AS HE DOESN’T TANK BECAUSE HE’S PLAYING NADAL – should be very tough. The proof is in the pudding – go ask Kyrgios how that tastes.”

That was during Kyrgios’ rampant taming of Djokovic, early spring 2017. Sam put it to Kyrgios there, from both wings along with the serve which were all on display tonight as he took care of Zverev on Arthur Ashe 2 2 and 1 in one hour and sixteen minutes: 55 winners, 8 errors, 18 aces. Seeing what Mischa did to Isner in the 3R, this shows the kind of tennis that Sam is playing. He had very little trouble keeping the S & V almost a distant memory.

As Querrey prepares for Tuesday’s QF match with Kevin Anderson with the chance to play the winner of Schwartzman v Carreno Busta in the SF, he has some recent experience with these players. Although he’s never played the Spaniard, he played Anderson recently in Montreal during the S. African’s run of decent N.A. HC, losing to Anderson in R16 4 and 1. I think we can agree this is an entirely different set of circumstances, but Anderson has to be buoyed by that experience.

Querrey actually opened 2017 in Brisbane where he lost to Schwartzman in the R32.

This bottom half is wide open.

I saw a bit of the Shapovalov v Carreno Busta match. The Spaniard was just the more consistent, more mature player, playing with less risk and more control. He looked the veteran that he is at 26, a player whose found some deep draws all year. Denis had the fight in him, but just couldn’t navigate the three TBs. We’ll have fun watching this guy grow in the sport and cause plenty of havoc in plenty of draws.

Another note on the bottom half’s bizarre circumstances, Carreno Busta has played, I believe, four qualifiers in his march to the QF.

I said the same thing about Nadal: the likes of Daniel and Mayer, as brilliant as they were in that first set, they didn’t have the reinforcements, at all, to go long with Rafa.

Carreno Busta hopefully gets a good test Tuesday from the Argentine.

Schwartzman, despite my bias, has been his stubborn and steady self. Good for him. I hear there is a bit of leg issue, but perhaps this is behind him come Tuesday where he can go toe-to-toe with the Spanish 12 seed.

As for tomorrow, we have to expect the No. 1 and 2 players in the world to advance. Dolgopolov, though dangerous, can’t really be trusted here or ever, as far as I’m concerned. I could see a retirement from the Ukrainian. He could surprise us and make a match out of it, but Mr. Business-end should get the job done.

The other two matches could be real classics, with Del Potro seemingly raising his level big-time and squaring-off against the Dom. This should be a good battle as neither player is prone to throwing-in the towel. DelPo hasn’t dropped a set, Thiem only one. I beliem in Thiem even though Juan’s resurgence is one of the most inspiring stories of the ATP.

Although I do love the run from Rublev, only 19, I am pulling for Goffin to find some QF form. He deserves more tennis fortune, if you know what I mean.

Talk to you tomorrow.

16 comments

  1. Great roundup, Matt.

    The court does seem to be slower. Just look at how far back Nadal is playing against Dolgopolov. Almost playing it like a clay court match.

    1. On Twitter I just shared this. The ball is high, he’s back, the players are missing badly at times — this is a chunky court. Look who’s left in the tournament!

  2. While the court is indeed slower, it seems to reward offensive baseliners. Dimitrov & Rublev…Rublev seemed a more aggressive baseliner, with his go for broke style. As of this writing, Rublev is leading 1 set to 0 against Goffin. Again, Rublev is an aggressive baseliner. Even Schwartzman isnt exactly defensive, although Cilic being more aggressive is undeniable. Delpo also advances against his relatively more defensive opponents.

    For the women, the ones advancing are those with aggressive baseline style as well. Halep immediately got obliterated by Sharapova, who wasnt exactly prime after having to miss several GSes due to low rank and no WC.

    What to make of this, Matt? A slow court that rewards aggression…kind of oxymoronic isnt it?

    1. Rublev plays best on clay. One can still be a big hitter on that kind of surface. Think Wawrinka or Soderling or even Nadal or Novak.

      But good stuff – we’ll keep watching and analyzing all day and night!

      1. From what I see, I think this court favors big, flat hitters while it is especially forgiving to players who require long takeout before strike, e.g. Wawrinka. Unlike Wimbledon, which is unforgiving to those types of players, the slow court allows this. However, in contrast to the French Open, the bounce is relatively low…so this may favor OHBH players, and huge topspins might not be rewarded that much. I guess it’s no mystery Stan won last year. He fits that description very well.

        In regards to Nadal, how much truth do you find in the following analysis?

      2. Rublev is the sort of guy who *can* take out Nadal. As is Del Potro.

        It’s unfortunate though that we haven’t seen Nadal face even a single player with the variety to trouble him on this surface. The draw has been shambolic. As for the bottom half, my money’s on Querrey to make it to the finals.

      3. JB, thanks for sharing that analysis. It’s certainly no clay, but it’s slower which is the point of that video – time is taken away from a player like Nadal who needs the bigger take-away. If the roof is closed, that should only enhance this difficulty for Nadal. He hasn’t even faced a big serve yet, so the data that the analysis provides might be even more telling had he faced a bigger serve. Or even a more accurate serve.

        Nadal does look healthy though and he’s a very smart big match player. His first big test would be the SF, really, unless the teenager shocks the world – probably not going to happen in a Bo5.

    2. It’s not so oxymoronic JB, IMHO. A slow, low-bouncing hard court is bound to favour a physically strong, attacking player, as
      * pace has to be created by oneself, but there’s no real reward for loopy and deep topspin-laden groundstrokes either
      * at the same time, due to the low bounce, it’s more rewarding to make forays to the net, unlike say a clay court.
      *consistent bounce

      The O2 has been a good example of this kind of court. As has Paris Bercy in the last few years. On such a court, I would like the chances of a net-rushing and slicing Federer against Nadal.

      1. Agree that rublev has the game to cause rafa problems. And if they were meeting in the first couple of rounds I’d say good chance of an upset. But I don’t expect a 19 year old playing his idol in his first ever GS quarter final to be in the right place physically or mentally.
        Fed v Delpo should be fun if they’re both fit to play. The bottom half of the draw is just desperate. Querrey winning through to the final would be the least awful outcome for the tournament. A final of nadal v one of schwartzmanor/carreno busta would be a very bad joke.

      2. Good stuff, guys. More on this later, but to Clint’s point: can you imagine a final like that? Nadal v Schwartzman or Busta?

        That would brutal (the bottom half is bad enough though Sam is playing lights out right now).

  3. Thanks, Utsav, Clint and Matt for sharing your views. Those definitely provide more nuances to how these court speeds and bounce heights work. New things for me to learn.

    It is a pity that what they are aiming is surface homogenization. To me, it would have been more interesting if the court surfaces vary greatly from GS to GS. For example, we could have:
    AO: fast court, high bounce
    FO: slow court, high bounce
    W: fast court, low bounce
    USO: slow court, low bounce
    If this were to be, they only have to fix Wimby to grow faster grass…and make AO faster.
    A player winning in many surfaces will truly prove his versatility.

    1. Fully agree JB. It’s not a coincidence that we have seen 3 career GS winners in this era. It would never have been possible had it not been for the changes in the surfaces over the past decade and a half. Maybe Federer could have won one FO, but can you imagine Nadal winning W in the 90s? 😉

    2. That’s the million dollar question: why have they gone to this homogenization of surface. We all have our theories but what’s the real reason?

      Most should agree it’s hurt the sport, dramatically.

      1. It’s to satiate pleb viewers who like long rallies. The people who can’t appreciate all-court, athletic games.

      2. Plenty of people I know called the AO 2012 final the greatest match they had ever seen. So you see, people actually like the homogeneity.

What say you?