The men's side has reached the quarterfinals stage of the 2013 U.S. Open, leaving only eight men to compete for the championship crown. Certain favorites remain, while other underdogs are looking to break through and shock the world.
How will the action transpire with the quarterfinals finally set?
Novak Djokovic vs. Mikhail Youzhny
Djokovic's ATP Rank: 1
Youzhny's ATP Rank: 24
Head-to-Head: 5-3, Djokovic
Novak Djokovic's Path to the Quarterfinals
When you're the No. 1 player in the world, you're bound to face a more favorable road to the quarterfinals than others. That's been the case for Novak Djokovic, whose path is significantly easier—if that word can even be used in a Grand Slam—than that of his rivals.
He's certainly made it look that way.
Djokovic started things off by defeating Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and followed up with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2 win over Benjamin Becker. In the third round, Djoker took down Joao Sousa by a mark of 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
With Djokovic's 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 win over Marcel Granollers in the fourth round, we were left with a legitimate question: Did Djokovic even break a sweat on his path to yet another quarterfinals appearance?
He's No. 1 for a reason.
Youzhny's Path to the Quarterfinals
Mikhail Youzhny has displayed extraordinary grit during the 2013 U.S. Open. Faced with one of the toughest draws of all quarterfinals players, Youzhny has managed to defeat some of the fiercest competitors in the world.
As a result, Youzhny is in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open for the third time in his career—he reached the semifinals in each of his previous two appearances.
Youzhny started things off by defeating Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in the first round. In the second round, he took down Alexandr Dolgopolov by a count of 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 and set up a blast from the past against No. 12 Tommy Haas.
Youzhny beat Haas 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 and continued his bracket by facing Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round. Youzhny fought back from two steep deficits in the fourth and fifth sets, eventually winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 7-5.
Do yourself a favor and avoid assuming he's a lock to lose to Djokovic.
In head-to-head meetings, Djokovic owns a 5-3 edge over Youzhny, with his most recent win coming at the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters. In that match, as well as the most recent one before it, Djokovic won two sets to one.
If Youzhny can come that close, he can pull off an upset.
As inspiring a performance as we expect to see from the Russian, it's hard to imagine him pulling out the win. Djokovic has won matches that have been quite lopsided, while Youzhny is fresh off of a five-set thriller against Hewitt.
In the end, that's enough for Djokovic to avoid the upset.
Youzhny may steal a set, and he'll at least push Djokovic to his limit with his never-ending effort. Once the Russian gets his adrenaline rush, he contests every shot and can cause trouble for even the best of the best.
It won't be a win, but Youzhny won quite a few new fans in New York City.
Djokovic: 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Andy Murray vs. Stanislas Wawrinka
Murray's ATP Rank: 3
Wawrinka's ATP Rank: 10
Head-to-Head: 8-5, Murray
Andy Murray's Path to the Quarterfinals
Andy Murray has played a favorable path, but when you're the reigning U.S. Open champion, every player is going to bring his A-Game. Facing players who are respected for their grit and toughness, Murray has been tasked with defeating unseeded athletes with upset potential.
So far, so good.
Murray got past Michael Llodra without many problems, winning 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in convincing fashion. In the second round, however, Murray began to slip up. He defeated Leonardo Mayer by a count of 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, but he dropped a set.
One round later, he took down Florian Mayer 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2 in what was a significantly more difficult match than the second and third sets suggest.
The true test for Murray came in the fourth round, where unseeded Denis Istomin played an incredible match. The two traded lengthy points, and Istomin showed that wins over No. 15 Nicolas Almagro and No. 20 Andreas Seppi were not flukes.
No matter how well Istomin played, however, Murray was able to make plays when they counted, and he won 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. As a result, Murray clinched a berth in the quarterfinals, where he'll face a familiar Swiss foe.
No, not that one.
Stanislas Wawrinka's Path to the Quarterfinals
For the better part of a decade, Stanislas Wawrinka has been labeled as one of the next big stars in men's professional tennis. Hailing from Switzerland, the same country as Roger Federer, Wawrinka met that upside with world-class ability.
Prior to 2013, however, Wawrinka was guilty of collapsing during tough matches and allowing his frustration to get the best of him. After strong performances at the Australian Open and French Open, Wawrinka is playing the best tennis of his career in New York and eliminating those issues.
Wawrinka has faced one of the most difficult paths of any top-10 player, starting off with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, 6-2 win over rival Radek Stepanek. It was no easier in the second round, as Wawrinka was forced to overcome slugger Ivo Karlovic, winning a rough 7-5, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 match.
As strong as he was in those two matches, it was his performances in the third and fourth rounds that proved his title legitimacy.
Wawrinka combated a gutsy performance from Marcos Baghdatis with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (9-7) victory. He fought off set points to win the fifth and deciding set.
To cap it all off, Wawrinka came back from a steep third-round tiebreak deficit to defeat No. 5 Tomas Berdych by a count of 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2. Just like that, Wawrinka became a true title contender.
Don't bother trying to sell him short as anything else.
When it comes to Murray and Wawrinka, it's easy to label this match as predictable. Wawrinka has world-class ability, but his inconsistency has made him a target for early upsets. Murray, on the other hand, has won two Grand Slam titles in his past three appearances.
With that being said, Murray owns an 8-5 edge over Wawrinka in their head-to-head battles, with the latter picking up a 6-1, 6-2 win in their most recent meeting. Anything is possible.
It will take a monumental effort from Wawrinka, as Murray has reached the finals in each of his past four Grand Slam events. But Wawrinka is playing the best tennis of his career, and Murray is making mistakes we're not accustomed to seeing.
It's time we put the defending champion on upset alert.
Wawrinka has the type of power that will push Murray to his limits and a serve that will demand a supremely accurate performance. If the past two rounds have shown us anything, it's that Murray can be touched with long rallies and power shots.
It's time for a bit of risky business.
Wawrinka: 7-6, 3-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6
David Ferrer vs. Richard Gasquet
Ferrer's ATP Rank: 4
Gasquet's ATP Rank: 9
Head-to-Head: 8-1, Ferrer
David Ferrer's Path to the Quarterfinals
David Ferrer is the most consistent player outside of the Big Four when it comes to Grand Slam events. He's reached the quarterfinals at every Grand Slam event over the past two years and reached the semifinals in four of his seven completed outings.
A win over Richard Gasquet would mark five.
That's what you call extraordinary.
Ferrer certainly looks the part of a champion, quietly working his way through the field in impressive fashion. Starting with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win over Nick Kyrgios, Ferrer set the standard for himself early in the event.
With only two dropped sets in four matches, it's safe to say he's living up to expectations.
Ferrer defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2 in the second round and Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the third. That set up a memorable clash with No. 18 Janko Tipsarevic, a quarterfinalist at the past two U.S. Opens.
Ferrer won 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) and clinched his berth here. Did we expect anything less?
Richard Gasquet's Path to the Quarterfinals
Richard Gasquet has been on the edge of greatness for too long, consistently reaching the fourth round of Grand Slam events. Prior to the 2013 U.S. Open, however, Gasquet had reached the fourth round in six of his past seven Grand Slam appearances.
Gasquet now enters the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2007 Wimbledon.
To get to this point, Gasquet started things out with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Michael Russell. He followed it up with a tough 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 victory against Stephane Robert and moved on to the third round for a battle with No. 32 Dmitry Tursunov.
Gasquet found his first bit of luck during the third round, winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 4-2 after Tursunov retired. Still unproven on a grand stage, however, the Frenchman needed a telling performance.
Amid questions about his mental toughness, Gasquet fought off match points to defeat No. 10 Milos Raonic 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (11-9), 7-5.
Don't count him out against Ferrer, no matter what history tells you.
Ferrer and Gasquet have a long history of matches during Grand Slam events. In fact, they've met so many times that it seems absurd for the tennis gods to not bring these two together in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
Unfortunately for Gasquet, he lost straight-set matches to Ferrer at both the 2012 Australian Open and 2012 U.S. Open.
With that being said, Gasquet is playing the best tennis of his career, proving just how much his improved conditioning has helped him. For that reason, the Frenchman is more than capable of stepping up and upsetting the No. 4 seed.
But will he?
For all of the strides Gasquet has made both mentally and physically, he's preparing to face Ferrer. While he may not be a member of the Big Four, Ferrer is one of the most physically and mentally rugged players in the world.
Good luck taking him down in any Grand Slam tournament.
Ferrer: 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
Rafael Nadal vs. Tommy Robredo
Nadal's ATP Rank: 2
Robredo's ATP Rank: 22
Head-to-Head: 6-0, Nadal
Rafael Nadal's Path to the Quarterfinals
Rafael Nadal has been the best player in the world during the 2013 ATP Tour season, and it hasn't even been close. He's currently 57-3 and owns more ATP Tour titles than Djokovic, Roger Federer and Murray combined.
Nadal has flashed that form throughout the 2013 U.S. Open.
Nadal took down American Ryan Harrison during the first round, fighting through a tough first set to win 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. In one of the most impressive performances by any player during this tournament, Nadal proceeded to dismantle Rogerio Dutra Silva by a count of 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.
Just like that, Nadal proved his early Wimbledon defeat was a fluke—as if we didn't already know that.
Nadal proceeded to cruise past Ivan Dodig, who was fresh off of upsets of No. 27 Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko. Nadal won by a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, continuing his string of matches without dropping a set.
During the fourth round, things got interesting.
No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber played outstanding tennis, taking the first set from Nadal and fighting him until the final point. But in the end, the Spaniard continued his dominance, winning 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Nadal still hasn't dropped a service game.
There's only one phrase to describe Nadal's path to the quarterfinals: nearly flawless.
Tommy Robredo doesn't receive the same recognition as the likes of Rafael Nadal or David Ferrer, but he's one of Spain's best players. He's making his seventh career appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event and has played at a high level in major events for the past decade.
This year, Robredo did something he'd been unable to do in 10 career attempts: He defeated Roger Federer.
Robredo defeated Marinko Matosevic in the first round, overcoming a loss in a second-set tiebreak to win 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-2. The 31-year-old quieted all concerns of an early departure by taking down an inspired Frank Dancevic by 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.
That's when things got interesting. Robredo proved his legitimacy.
The Spaniard took down Daniel Evans, winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Evans may not be a high-profile player, but he upset No. 11 Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic en route to the third round and had a chance to win the first and fourth sets against Robredo.
Instead, Robredo proved his mental toughness, took Evans down and set up a match against Federer.
Robredo, previously 0-10 against Federer, defeated the superstar in straight sets by a count of 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4. Many have speculated about Federer's future since the match concluded, but it was a critical victory for a player who has the raw ability to go far.
Most importantly, he knows how to capitalize on mistakes.
If Nadal isn't careful, he could face that same fate.
Nadal and Robredo are quite familiar with each other. They've teamed up at multiple events, including Grand Slams, the Davis Cup and the Olympics. They won the 2008 Monte Carlo Masters and reached the semifinals at the 2004 U.S. Open as a doubles team.
Now, they'll meet with a berth in the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Open on the line.
Nadal owns a record of 6-0 against Robredo in head-to-head matches, most recently playing him at the 2009 BNP Paribas Masters. In that time, Nadal has dropped just one set to Robredo, beating him 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 in their only five-set match.
With that being said, Nadal has never played Robredo in a Grand Slam event. And another man—Federer—was also undefeated against the No. 19 seed entering this event
If Robredo were to defeat Federer and Nadal in consecutive matches, it would have to go down as one of the greatest U.S. Open runs in tournament history. While that would be inspiring to see, Nadal is playing at an out-of-his-mind level and seems untouchable.
Until someone brings him down—Nadal was 15-0 on hard courts entering the U.S. Open, per ATPWorldTour.com—the safe bet is on Nadal advancing to the semifinals.
Nadal: 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
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