US Open Tennis 2013: Breaking Down Nadal vs. Gasquet and Men's Semifinal Round

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US Open Tennis 2013: Breaking Down Nadal vs. Gasquet and Men's Semifinal Round
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The stage has been set for the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.

While the path to the finals has taken plenty of twists and turns, perhaps none more bigger than the twist in the quarterfinals, the semifinals are set to be just as entertaining as the rest with big names in action.

Rafael Nadal will face the surging Richard Gasquet in one slate of action, where the undefeated Nadal on hard courts will look to avoid the same fate as David Ferrer, who was stunned in the quarterfinal despite a long streak of dominance against Gasquet.

The other matchup is even more exciting, where world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on a Swiss star—just not the one most expected—in Stanislas Wawrinka, who is fresh off a jaw-dropping victory over Andy Muray.

Only two will advance to the final round. Here is a full breakdown of each match.

 

Note: All pertinent info courtesy of the tournament's official website.

 

No. 8 Richard Gasquet vs. No. 2 Rafael Nadal

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It was just last year Nadal sat on the sidelines of the U.S. Open and watched with wobbly knees. A few days ago, Nadal punched his ticket to the semifinal round by defeating Tommy Robredo in the fastest U.S. Open quarterfinal match since 1988. 

Gasquet had a tougher go of things against David Ferrer, who had owned an 8-1 all-time advantage over the Frenchman going into the quarterfinal showdown. Five sets later, marking the second round in a row Gasquet was forced to go the distance to seize victory, Gasquet overcame the historical odds and put the world on notice—he's a legitimate threat now.

Of course, so is Nadal—especially against Gasquet. The "King of Clay" who is making a mockery of his one-time weakness of hard courts owns a head-to-head advantage of 10-0 over Gasquet.

Nadal has not lost a set to Gasquet since 2008. The two have not met since the 2011 Davis Cup, which resulted in a rout with Nadal claiming a 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 victory.

As fans have probably noticed by now, there's a new look Gasquet in town, and this version seems to laugh in the face of history and odds.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Who wins?

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For Gasquet to pull off one of the greatest upsets in U.S. Open history, the Frenchman is going to need to play a nearly flawless match.

A mental edge for Gasquet would be ideal, but he is the man who took a two set lead in the quarterfinals and lost his composure, losing the next two sets rather than sealing the deal.

Nadal is a buzzsaw headed straight for a championship. His aggressive style can only be matched with unpredictability. Gasquet does plenty of things above average, but his well-known backhand must be paired with consistency and unpredictability.

Overcoming the historical implications is not out of the question for Gasquet, but it'll take a performance for the ages.

Prediction: Nadal, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

 

No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka vs. No. 1 Novak Djokovic

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

As per the norm, a Swiss superstar is set to participate in the semifinal of the U.S. Open—he's just not the one most expected.

Wawrinka pulled off a shocker in the quarterfinals against Murray. He didn't just upset Murray—he took him to the shed out back in a straight-set shocker, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

The 28-year-old has come full circle and finally stepped out of the shadow of his fellow countryman Roger Federer, but the road does not get any easier with the world's best player as his next opponent.

Djokovic is now playing in his 14th-consecutive Grand Slam semifinal after disposing of Mikhail Youzhny with relative ease through four sets in the quarterfinal.

History is not on Wawrinka's side. Wawrinka has dropped the last 11 matches in a row against Djokovic and has only defeated him twice in 15 total encounters, the last victory coming in 2006.

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Who wins?

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While the odds seem lopsided, Wawrinka is playing the best tennis of his career, and it is imperative to point out a major reason to believe Wawrinka has what it takes—the Swiss star took Djokovic to five sets back in January at the Australian Open in an instant classic before losing a heartbreaker.

That's a positive sign for Wawrinka, but at the same time the pressure on his shoulders has never been higher. It's one thing to defeat last year's U.S. Open champion in the quarterfinal round, it's a different beast entirely for Wawrinka to take down the world No. 1, who has only lost one set in the tournament so far, in his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal match.

Wawrinka can advance to the last match of the season's final slam, but like Gasquet, it's going to take a breathtaking performance.

Prediction: Djokovic, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

 

 

Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling

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