US Open Tennis 2013: Predictions for Saturday's Marquee Matches
Of the Round 3 matches still to take place in the 2013 U.S. Open, three past world No. 1 players are on the cusp of the Round of 16 with unranked opponents standing in their path.
But while Rafael Nadal has enjoyed a prolific season in winning nine singles titles, similar fortunes haven't smiled upon the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Roger Federer.
Wozniacki has not won a singles title this year and sports a pedestrian record of 27-19 overall. She has never won a Grand Slam title before, and this would be a heck of a place to start—and redeem an otherwise disappointing season.
The five-time champion Federer has been reduced to a seventh seed after winning just one title in 2013 to date, but he has cruised through the first two rounds.
Let's take a look at each of the matches involving these three stars, complete with score predictions for each showdown.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of USOpen.org.
Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Ivan Dodig
The world No. 2 is on track to threaten for a second U.S. Open trophy, dropping just three games in his most recent match. Nadal's game is in fantastic shape all around in terms of serving proficiency, groundstrokes and his net game.
Dodig is not to be taken lightly, though, because he upset Nadal's Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco, who was the No. 27 seed, in the first round in a five-set thriller.
That continued a hard-luck trend for Verdasco, who has been bounced from every Grand Slam event this year in matches that went the maximum five sets.
Instead of being content with that epic victory, Dodig proceeded to knock off Nikolay Davydenko, who has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, in straight sets.
A big serve netted Dodig 16 aces against Davydenko, but the experience of Nadal will trump the fantastic form Dodig has flashed at Flushing Meadows, though it won't be easy.
Prediction: Nadal wins—7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-4
Caroline Wozniacki (6) vs. Camila Giorgi
It's been somewhat of a Cinderella story for Giorgi to have made it this far in the US Open.
Who will have the earliest exit from the 2013 U.S. Open?
She needed three qualifying matches just to enter the tournament, but to her credit, Giorgi has fully capitalized on her opportunities, showing grit in winning her last match against Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 7-6 (8).
However, if Wozniacki loses this match, it would be arguably the biggest shock among her recent Grand Slam disappointments.
Although she hasn't looked particularly impressive in the first two matches in hitting just three more total winners than unforced errors, Wozniacki is clearly the superior talent in this clash.
Between how well Wozniacki can stay in rallies with her defensive ability and her knack for hitting winners from unconventional places, even the best match by Giorgi wouldn't challenge Wozniacki to the point of even dropping a set.
Prediction: Wozniacki wins—6-3, 6-2
Roger Federer (7) vs. Adrian Mannarino
If there were any doubts about Federer entering the US Open, those should be dismissed at least so far in the context of his second-round match against Carlos Berlocq.
Even though the Argentine hit 70 of his 83 first serves in, he only managed to win 51 percent of those points, and Federer picked him apart in breaking him seven times.
Federer should have been given a higher seed despite the fact that it matched up with his current ATP ranking entering the tournament. It's been since 2008 since he's won this tournament, but he is the all-time Grand Slam titles leader for a reason.
Going for the gusto worked for Mannarino in a thrilling four-set win over American Sam Querrey in Round 2, as the Frenchman went to the net a whopping 45 times, winning 61 percent of the points.
It will take that type of aggressive mentality and a virtuoso performance to have any sort of chance against Federer.
Unfortunately, this underdog story won't quite pan out, because Federer's mastery of passing shots will make any frequent net points futile for Mannarino, and should allow King Roger to hold court with ease.
Prediction: Federer wins—6-2, 6-3, 6-1
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