128 down to 4. On Friday, four will become two and on Sunday two will become one but were far off there yet. A usual suspect, two new names and a man who has been in a major semi-final before but has surprised us all so who will be battling it out on Sunday?
Rafael Nadal v Matteo Berrettini
Two players with completely contrasting records. This is Matteo’s first Grand Slam semi-final. It is only his second career appearance at Flushing Meadows having gone out in the first round last year.
For Rafael Nadal, this is business as usual as he embarks on his 33rd Grand Slam semi-final and his seventh consecutive semi-final. I spoke before the tournament about the concern of Rafa pulling out of events.
Since the beginning of 2018 he has pulled out of 15/19 hard court tournaments, some down to injury and scheduling but when he plays he goes far.
This is his 11th tournament of the year and in 10 of the 11 he has made at least the semi-finals. The only one he didn’t? Round two exit to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco.
I’d like to give a positive approach for both sides. We know what Rafa can do it has been ‘lights out’ tennis from the Spaniard who will take some stopping.
Matteo needs two things to work to even try and contend. Serve and forehand. Obviously he got nervous serving it out against Monfils but that serve has to stand up.
He does throw it down at 122-131mph but the serve out-wide on the deuce does drop off so will have to redirect traffic. I like Matteo’s baseline stance but he will have to be carful. He likes to float in the backhand corner but go for that inside out forehand and it will have to be all or nothing against Rafa.
Daniil Medvedev v Grigor Dimitrov
Daniil Medvedev has slowly began to make friends this week. After being booed off against Feliciano Lopez and Koepher he did get quite a few cheers from the New York crowd who seem to be warming to him after his antics against Lopez.
I expected Daniil to be here. Now this is where it gets tough. He’s won 49 matches on tour (tour high) this year and is now going to be at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Fearless approach is his game summed up. He has an unorthodox way of hitting the ball especially off the backhand but he’s fearless with the depth and precision he goes with.
Grigor has done incredibly well to get here. His tennis has been smart, controlled and composed. Three words I probably haven’t used since he won the tour finals in London.
Can he cause an upset here?
I think so. He has to stick with what he knows. Daniil likewise won’t be afraid to get involved in sliced rallies but Grigor has better court coverage to bide his time and he will have to revisit that patient display he put on against Federer to stand a chance.
photo credit; Grigor Dimitrov instagram