The 2012 U.S. Open concludes with men’s semifinal and final matches this weekend.
Not surprisingly, three of the top four seeds have advanced to the semis. Tomas Berdych pulled off the upset of number one overall seed, Roger Federer, and takes his place in the final four.
Here’s a quick look at the remaining action.
Semifinal 1: Andy Murray vs. Tomas Berdych
For a full preview of this match, go here.
Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych have similar styles of play. They spend a good deal of time behind the baseline and have nearly identically mediocre first serve percentages (60 for Murray, 59 for Berdych).
Much will be made about the “emotions” and “composure” of both players. Berdych is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career. Murray is just one match away from the opportunity to end Djokovic’s tournament once again.
The biggest discrepancy? Murray has been the world’s best second-serve returner all year and will get plenty of opportunities to showcase this ability.
Which semifinalist is most likely to sleep with his tennis racquet?
Predictions: Murray in five.
Semifinal 2: Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer
David Ferrer has long been one the least discussed players on the tour, despite a Top-20 ranking for all but four weeks of the last seven years. Ferrer is a defensive-minded players and, as we saw in his five-setter with Janko Tipsarevic, aims to physically outlast his opponents.
Unfortunately, this is the worst strategy to employ against Novak Djokovic for the simple reason that Djokovic can play the defense game better than anyone. His court coverage is unsurpassed. More importantly, Djokovic capitalizes on the wide angles that come with shots to corners and inside the service line.
Djokovic gave us one dazzling return after another in his match with the powerful Juan Martin Del Potro. David Ferrer is ranked 64th among all players in hard court aces in 2012. This, along with a grab bag of tactical disadvantages, will doom the Spaniard.
Prediction: Djokovic in a straight-set, two-hour match.
Final: Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray
After winning three consecutive majors, Djokovic entered the 2012 French Open well aware of the opportunity to win four straight and achieve the career slam. Nobody would ever suggest that Djokovic’s career is better than that of Nadal or Federer, but if he won at Roland Garros, the Serb would have accomplished something that neither of his contemporaries could manage.
His loss to Nadal was an enormous psychological defeat—and understandably so. He poured himself into the pursuit of the career slam and, after the it ended, Djokovic had letdowns at the Wimbledon and the Olympics.
But he is back and seemingly better than ever. Djokovic has won the big points, controlled his opponents’ service games and is embracing the fanfare of the U.S. Open.
Prediction: In 2007, Roger Federer became the second man to win a hard court major without dropping a set. The feat has been accomplished a total of seven times on all major surfaces. Djokovic will increase that number to eight.