2012 US Open (Tennis)

Tennis: Why Dolgopolov vs. Wawrinka Is Today's Best US Open Match

Wawrinka's loss to Federer in this year's Cincinnati tournament was just another against the one player he cannot beat.
Wawrinka's loss to Federer in this year's Cincinnati tournament was just another against the one player he cannot beat.Nick Laham/Getty Images
Cliff PotterCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2012

Let's admit it, Sunday's match between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Stanislas Wawrinka at the U.S. Open could be the match of the day.

Do not miss it.

Wawrinka is my dark-horse pick to finally get to his first Grand Slam final. He cannot beat Roger Federer, but has the ability to defeat almost anyone else in the field. However, Dolgopolov beat him in Acapulco the only time they met, 6-4, 7-6.

It was a close match that will give Wawrinka a bit of added incentive this time around.

This U.S. Open has been a struggle for Dolgopolov. He has taken nine sets to win his first two matches. The last match, against Marcos Baghdatis, was tougher than it looked, with Baghdatis seemingly giving up in the fourth and last set.

But Dolgopolov's style is a good counterpoint to Wawrinka's play. He tends to hang back more, using his generally superior speed to reach balls and turn them into winners.

They both play the net well. Dolgopolov was an incredible 13-of-14 net points won in the match against Baghdatis. Wawrinka was an acceptable 24-of-38, with the smaller percentage a sign of his more aggressive play.

Both can serve in the 130s, and can win better than 80 percent of their first serves.

Only Wawrinka, the lower-ranked player today (19 vs. 15), has ever achieved a top-10 ranking (9), but both are capable of attaining the top 10 again if they reach the finals.

Dolgopolov's record against top-10 players is worse than Wawrinka's, but he has not had many chances against them.

As with so many players, net play has become the rediscovered component of a winner's game. As long as Wawrinka can dictate play at the net, he should win this one.

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