U.S. Open Men’s SFs


Del Potro v Nadal — 1:00pm PST.

I’ll make this quick since it’s all about the matches at this point. A little perspective can help, but we just want to see two gents go to war (in both matches!). That Thiem v Nadal QF still resonates in our tennis imagination. That was a milestone for the career of Thiem and perhaps the development of the sport — more on that later.

I don’t see Del Potro beating Nadal today. Nadal has had plenty of rest since his QF five-setter. And he doesn’t really let such human fragility get in his way, usually. If he does lose energy in a fourth or fifth set today, we’d understand, but I don’t think he’s affected like that, not with so much on-the-line (big picture especially).

Del Potro doesn’t move well enough for my tastes in match like this. Sure the courts are slower, but Juan Martin will still have to hit that BH a lot. He can come-over every once in a while, but 78.9% of those will be slice. Again, he’ll try to run-around the vulnerable BH, but that just opens-up the court for the vaunted Nadal inside-out FH or CC BH.

Then again, if the Argentine is serving huge and simply makes some early moves to get up a set or two, he’s probably through. And no one, other than a lunatic Argentinian, wants to the tower of Tandil to advance more than I do. We have talked about his impact on the sport, what could have been, etc.

Of course most of us remember well the 2009 SF between these two, where Del Potro treated the Spaniard to an embarrassing 2 2 and 2 spanking. Interesting that Nadal came back the following year and won the Open. That’s Nadal in a nutshell. He’s vulnerable, can be out-classed, etc., but he’s a problem-solver and as hungry an athlete as we’ve seen this side of Jordan.

Del Potro will have to play unbelievably to stop that freight-train today. One of the more difficult tasks in tennis. The two met this year in FO SF and WB QF. Nadal owns the 2018 major H2H, so we’ll see if Del Potro finally has him where he wants him, or if this remains the same sort of outcome.

Nadal in four although Del Potro in four would be even better.

If they go five, bigger advantage Djokovic.

Djokovic v Nishikori — following SF #1

Did I just jinx Novak? If I did, he’s in a lot of trouble.

He has to win this tournament. I’m more the tennis historian than I am the fanboy. Sorry, reader (I know I’d be a lot more popular, have hundreds more followers, etc., if I was a bleeding-heart fanboy).

In the grand scheme of the sport’s history and, more particularly, this golden era: Novak needs to claim his 3rd USO title and his 14th major this weekend. Furthermore, with the likely finals opponent from the top being none other than Rafael Nadal, Novak needs to take care of that USO H2H. Two of Rafa’s three USO crowns have come by beating Novak in the final (2010 and 2013). The Serb triumphed over Nadal in the 2011 final, but here we are again and Novak needs to secure this hardware, here and now.

Which brings us back to Novak v Kei. Nishikori has played well this year. A finals appearance in Monte Carlo, R16 at Roland Garros, QF at Wimbledon. He went-out early in Toronto and Cincinnati, but we know this guy has some game when he’s healthy.

Yes we can glance back to that 2014 U.S. Open SF where Kei took the Serb down in four sets. Otherwise, however, it’s 14-2 overall between these two and Novak, we know and have made this pretty much the theme of all 2018 USO prognostication, is the prohibitive favorite at this major, from the beginning and still.

Lastly, the weather has turned cooler in NYC, much cooler. We should get a roof closure on Sunday for the final as rain is in the forecast, temperatures in the low 70s and upper 60s.

Novak, too, has looked as clinical as ever. Going back to Cincy and throughout this draw he’s had some tough little spells here and there, but there’s the other more common sight of him out-hitting every opponent, from both sides, retrieving and serving quite well and what’s most concerning for the remaining three opponents is Novak’s ROS. He can seemingly break you at any time, especially when the moment seems even more consequential.

As tough as Nadal is to beat in a Bo5, Djokovic, when he’s in form, is probably tougher.

Good luck to all four.

Enjoy the tennis!

11 thoughts on “U.S. Open Men’s SFs

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Can we expect something more than Thiem-Nadal? SFs seem to be good paired, because one pair are both athletic, heavy hitters and both others are both excellent tacticians and users of every cm of the court. Two interesting matches, but maybe only Rafa-Djoker final can be an epic.


    1. If del Potro is firing, he could certainly do damage, but this seems to be Rafa v Novak.

      If Rafa does get down early, I could see him playing less fiercely. The Argentine, many think, is highly motivated. Not sure if that’ll be enough. But Rafa has to know that Novak will be in good shape to go deep in the final (he does have to beat Kei, but I’m almost assuming this — quite different from assuming Federer would beat Millman for instance. Novak losing would be TRAGIC for him and his fangirls).



  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Delpo cannot fire on the backhand wing. Nadal will know, how to exploit this weakness. And even after Thiem Nadal will move better than Delpo until the end if it goes a distance.
    There’s something about Novak’s motivation, you may not be aware of. It’s one of his drives over the whole career. So called WEST (meaning USA) has dismantled his home country Yugoslavia, heavily bombed Belgrade – like Hiroshima or Dresden earlier – for a kind of revenge, completely not necessary from military point of view (did you read Kurt Vonnegut “Slaughterhouse No. 5? It’s about Dresden). Novak trained in his early years of tennis in ruined Belgrade. Then the tennis world never accepted him as a person as opposite to Federer or Nadal. Novak is an open-minded and heartfelt guy but they all think, he is trying to steal Fed’s fan love. If the crowd does not support or accept him (yesterday Navratilova claimed it publicly), he can play like a hell and after lifting the crown – he will again and genuinely open his heart and smile, but the world will still not accept him.
    Sorry for this short “political insert” – but it’s necessary to understand, why Novak can be a lot more dangerous as you may think, looking for his form. It’s not about fangirls. It’s about honor and dignity. I’m Slavic too, so maybe I can understand it better.


    1. We know and appreciate this fierce drive. Thanks for bringing it up. I agree. He’s very thoughtful and driven = nightmare.

      And yes Nadal will be a load. But there is a chance he’s fatigued and if delpo gets up early, who knows. If this is a five set marathon, good luck against a probably finely tuned Novak.


  3. Clint Grike

    Rafa retires! Delpo in the final! Sorry for nadal but a relatively fresh delpo in the final could make for an epic!


    1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

      Well, Dominic lost by 1 point not only 1 but 2 matches. Rafa was physically hurt after this match (imagine – Rafa physically hurt!). Del Potro is on of biggest disgraces – I mean his game, his movement, his old-man-walking between points. Delpo should deliver an epic? If the final is longer than 1 hour, it’s too much to watch. No, the epic was Thiem vs. Nadal. Cannot blame Rafa for Dominic’s missed chances. But forget the epic. Well – some like Delpo’s game, I cannot watch it. I’m sorry, USO is over for me. Not because Thiem is no more in the competition. Just because I cannot expect some decent tennis. I do expect 2 hours long 3 sets “epic” and Novak has the crown.


  4. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Well, Matt – for me it’s disgrace. I don’t mean a person, but the game itself. You will rather not see movement with grace for a 2 m tall player. Yes, he has some good shots, but it’s all coming from heaven. If Delpo’s game is graceful for you, how can you find graceful Federer or Thiem? Isner’s game is graceful too? Graceful 2-handers are Djokovic, Nishikori, Fognini. Others may be perfect and successful players but without fluent motion (impossible when you are about 2,0 m and don’t play basketball but tennis). But well, matter of taste.


    1. You’re position here is very very flawed. That’s the angle taken by fanboys. No one is bigger than the sport. There’s a variety. I like more offensive tennis, flatter ground strokes, S & V.

      Enjoy Novak’s straight-set win . . . or not.


  5. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Well, Matt. You are only partly a tennis’ historian, meaning, you don’t care, who wins and not involved as a fangirl (why should you?). But you often tell, what do you like in tennis and in the game of different players. So you are a kind of fanboy. And after all, what’s wrong to be fan-something? You mean – fan-somethings are only screaming “Go xxx” and that’s all they have to say.
    That’s why I did escape after short time from every Fed-related forums. They are not about Fed, but about enemies and about how big fans they are.
    I’m not like this. I like variety. I dislike some varieties. Karlovic or Isner belong to the variety, but their game is perfectly boring and has not much with tennis to do. They are not designed to play on courts with the same dimensions, over the net with the same height. They may be a variety, but they kill tennis. Delpo belongs to this category. Of course he is maybe the best tennis players among high-scrappers. Not enough for me to like it. If I’m Thiem aficcionado it’s because of his game, not because I love his haircut or smile or so. Yes , no one is bigger than the sport, but imagine De La Hoya boxing with Mike Thyson. Would it be sport? And today’s sport is maybe more show than real sport, so you may respect sporting qualities of everyone, including likes of Seppi or other boring (but somehow amazing) players without clear-cut style, but not necessarily like to watch their matches.
    And if you “beliem in Thiem”, are you not in some part of you a fan-something?
    I would like some handicap in tennis, because the body height is too much of a factor. Take Isner 20 cm and he never reaches Top1000. Take Delpo 10 cm and he never makes Top100. My (utopic” concept is what I call “Virtual Net” (look in search engine” on my blog.
    I don’t care about the outcome of the final. The pure analyze tells me, how it will probably come out. I would enjoy an epic tennis, but I cannot expect it today. I will not watch the match live and what’s the sense of watching from reply if it ws not epic? Of course, it can be an epic. I would like it, whoever wins 🙂


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