Sam Querrey

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.

WB Eve of the Men’s Semi-finals

Roger I think covered it all here.

He’s been reading my blog. Sam is dangerous, so is Cilic and Berdych. I brought all of this to light in my QF preview and elsewhere. Also, Roger points-out, good luck to Novak and Andy getting healthy. In my Rant, I clarified how important player health is to the health of the tour, as well – the health of all players.

My preview underscored the questions surrounding Novak and Andy; they were favorites for most people because not much was made of the injuries. Novak, in an interview after his retirement, said the elbow has been bothering him for a year and a half. And he was seeking treatment, aggressively, from his and the ATP’s physio since the beginning of the tournament. Not sure if this violates the tour’s version of HIPPA, or some other privacy clause for locker-room competitive banter, but that information should have “leaked.” Novak looked unconvincing throughout his soft draw but I sill thought he would rise – just like I thought he would rebound at the French. I keep waiting for this guy to come around; and, at the same time, I keep charting the Djokollapse, which is an unreal decline of a great player; this is beyond a slump.

But if I’d been better aware of the extent of his injury, he’d have been written-off July 3.

Again, I think Roger did well to shed some light on what’s left at this tournament in the video; it’s pretty simple at his point.

Cilic v Querrey

Cilic is dangerous (this we’ve been on since Netherlands and Queen’s). Querrey, though that was an upset (Murray’s injury report was perhaps too quiet, as well), is also dangerous. The big serve of both makes them formidable and they have good feet on grass, can pummel ground strokes, etc. Cilic’s resume may seem bigger (it is, no doubt, given his Cincy and USO titles), but Querrey’s recent exploits can’t be overlooked. He beat Novak at WB last year and this year he beat a surging Nadal and rampant Kyrgios in February (along with the hometown boy here on CC).

The Kyrgios match was especially interesting because the Aussie had just straight-setted Novak, was playing dominant/confident tennis, but the American took care of business. I watched this live and everything from the American, including the body language back-and-forth with the antic-ridden Aussie was impressive. The Yankee then beat Nadal in the final in straight-sets. Sure this is February 2017 we’re talking about, and Acapulco; but that’s some firepower he handled pretty decisively.

Either way, good on Querrey for getting the job done against Andy, in emphatic bakery goods, 1 and 1 in-front of the home-crowd on Centre Court to advance to the WB SF. Pretty much a break-through match despite all of the big matches I’ve been referring to here in my case for Querrey. He’s in a semi-final match at the Championships.

Cilic is rolling. I might add that the 5-setter against Muller after Muller played a week-end holiday long R16 match against you-know-who probably isn’t ideal for the Croatian. You lean Marin here, based-on his potential form (he’s shown that kind of high level before on this stage), where the big serve and quick-strike tennis could dictate terms to Sam. But if Sam can find his feet, put pressure on Cilic’s serve, find rallies, we could be in to a long match, a kind of coin flip match. Sam can certainly go five. Can he get it to five?

That’s the real theme here: the read is a Cilic v Federer final, but some surprise and unexpected has taken a seat at our table, causing a bit of a scene.

PS Keep our eye on the Cilic FH that has been known to let him down.

Federer v Berdych

Federer should win this match. If Berdych wins, it’s an upset. What makes Berdych a little more, for me, than just a big hitter who has beaten Federer before is that match in March, in a Miami QF, where the Czech veteran held MP in the third set TB. That was 2017 Federer and Berdych played him even.

The run here has been solid, but Novak did retire due to injury; perhaps the most Tomas can say is that he’s rested and ready to give an old friend more than just an exhibition? Not sure if it’s the presence of Ivanišević, or Berdych’s maturity, but this career top-ten player with loads of game does seem just a bit more purposeful, has more character, etc.

Raonic and Berdych probably present similar kinds of obstacles for Roger: both big serves, and can put balls past the Swiss from the BL. Raonic, of course, does a little more at the net.

Looking back at the Raonic v Federer QF:

1st set: Federer 94% of first serve won, was 1/2 on BP, 14-2 (winner v UE) and hit more aces than Raonic (5 to 2). Raonic won 71 % of his second serve, which seemed pretty high, was 11-4 winner/UE and was 0/0 on BP.

Federer able to convert on that BP, a little more solid on serve, but the set pretty clean; Raonic did not play poorly.

2nd set: Federer breaks game 1. Big move here. More urgency, variety, passing shots that leave Raonic just shaking head.  Second break at 4-2 and serves out the set at love.
Federer 92% FS won and 2/4 on BP. Again, very clean in the winner v UE department – Federer just playing good Federer tennis.

Raonic down to 13% second serve won (huge drop from the first set). Again. 0/0 BP opportunities.

3rd set was a held-service convention though Raonic did see a BP in the 8th game. Raonic, again, looked good. Go watch his 2014 SF match with Federer a WB. He has built himself a nice little WB resume and could one day raise this trophy.

In the 3rd set TB, Raonic off to a 3-0 start, but Federer comes roaring back, taking the next five points. He closes the Canadian out at 7-4.

To make a long story short, how many BP opportunities will Berdych get tomorrow Reader/commenter Incondite stole my thunder by brining-up the lack of ROS in Berdych (or Cilic/Querrey).

All four of these SFinalists have big serves, but who can put pressure on another’s serve? Who has the best ROS? Federer does.

Without a ROS, the chances to break become minimized. If Federer serves well tomorrow (in that 90% FS winning range), Berdych will have trouble finding cracks to weaken a surging Federer. Federer’s ROS, even against the huge Raonic delivery, proved effective enough to wear down the 6’5″ 26 year-old.

That just seems to be the crux here: serve and ROS. If Federer continues this form, in fact even improves some, he’ll be tough to beat.

I have enjoyed reading the comments. Thank you! Some one (I think “Jason Bourne” – wow, international spy intrigue at Mcshow Tennis) brought-up the point of Federer succeeding in a draw that’s been opened-up like this, with Murray/Djokovic/Nadal out. One such was that 2009 US Open – where he was up 2 sets to 1, seeking his 6th straight USO title. Did not happen.

Not sure if from this same commenter, but another point: at this age, has Federer left enough on the plate to raise his game for a SF and/or Final? To answer this, I would say his Lajovic and Zverev matches were solid though not necessarily balletic. He seems to have raised his level vs. Dimitrov (who did fade at the sound of another loss) and Raonic.

But all good points. Indeed, Federer has much work to do and Berdych, I suspect (and even hope) gives Federer and the viewing audience more reason to scoot to the edge of our seats and live or die on some dramatic major SF tennis.

Sorry for the late post, folks.

Enjoy the tennis and talk to you all tomorrow!