Wednesday, September 8, 2010


US Open Tennis is into its second week... and I am absolutely ready and waiting to see who reaches the Men's Singles finals. All the eight quarter-finalists are seeded men... the lowest being the 25th seed Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. Here is the quarter finals draw for the last Grand Slam of the year:

1. Rafael Nadal (Spain 1st seed) v Fernando Verdasco (Spain - 8th seed)
2. Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland - 25th seed) v Mikhail Youzhny (Russia - 12th seed)
3. Gael Monfils (France - 17th seed) v Novak Djokovic (Serbia - 3rd seed)
4. Robin Soderling (Sweden - 5th seed) v Roger Federer (Switzerland - 2nd seed)

There is no doubt that given the recent history, the last of the quarterfinals listed above... Soderling v Federer... should be the one to watch out for. But then history also suggests that we can expect fireworks from the all-Spanish Nadal v Verdasco quarterfinal... and if it is anything like the semi-final of Australian Open 2009, it will be worth every penny for the spectators that witness it at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Nadal's form has been wonderful in this Grand Slam event. Most tennis followers know that both Nadal and Federer are yet to drop a set in their four matches thus far at New York. But here's the clincher: Nadal is yet to drop his serve at US Open this year.

A couple of years ago, I always thought that if Nadal could strengthen his serve a little bit and stay fit, he will be a bigger force to reckon with. And he's showing it now. Despite those biceps, aces at 130+ mph were unthinkable from Nadal a few years ago. Now, they are coming down at alarming frequency.

Nadal has faced 13 break points in his four round matches thus far, and saved each one of them. Federer also has been very good... facing only 19 break points in his four matches and saving 16 of them. But then, Federer knows that if he meets Nadal in the finals, those 3 break points that he is unable to save may well be the game, set and match to the Spaniard!

Nadal has shown consistent improvement and learning in his game ever since he turned pro and then won his first major at French Open 2005. His big serves, his runs to the net for volleys, his fast flat forehands with more power and less top spin are aspects of his game that did not exist in 2005. Not for nothing is he the World No. 1, you know!

If he overcomes Verdasco, he will face an easier semi-final than he would have anticipated at the start of the tournament... for Andy Murray did seem in good form then. But then Murray, like English cricket and soccer teams (Paul Collingwood's victorious men at the Caribbean islands excluded), faltered and fell by the wayside yet again.

Like I wrote on my blog a few days ago, I would really wish to see a Nadal v Federer finals at the US Open this year. And yes, for Nadal to come out triumphant...

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