US Open: 3 Things to Watch for on Day 12

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIISeptember 9, 2011

US Open: 3 Things to Watch for on Day 12

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    Day 12 at the US Open is about to begin, and rain has forced players from the bottom half of the men's draw to step onto the court in consecutive days.

    Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and John Isner will all be battling for their tournament lives on Friday. Both Americans are looking to earn the first American Grand Slam since Roddick took home the Open title in 2003. Roddick and Andre Agassi are the only players to have even reached a slam final since 2003.

    Murray is still looking for his first major championship and Nadal surely wouldn't mind crossing into double-digit Grand Slam titles.

    With so much on the line Friday, here's three things to prepare for on Day 12.

1. Andy Murray Struggles with First Challenging Opponent

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    Andy Murray's trek to the US Open quarterfinals has been an especially easy one.

    Murray was faced with a tough first-round opponent in Somdev Devvarman, but after struggling in the first set, he settled in and won the match in straight sets. Murray then fell behind two sets to love against Robin Haase, but dug himself out of that hole.

    With all the upsets in his quarter and with the withdrawal of Robin Soderling, Murray has had Feliciano Lopez and Donald Young in the last two rounds. Neither player had the firepower to take more than four games in a set.

    Now, Murray is set to face red-hot John Isner. It's not Murray's fault that his road has been easy, but will he be ready for his first true test of the tournament?

    Isner will get more than four games in a set, probably taking the Scot to a tiebreaker...or three.

2. John Isner Continues Dominance in Tiebreakers

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    Isner is six for six in tiebreakers at the 2011 US Open, and even Andy Murray won't be able to stop him from getting to at least one more.

    Murray will not give up on any set, but it can be near impossible to find a groove in a tiebreaker against the 6'9" American. Isner usually serves a high percentage in tiebreakers and is more aggressive on his returns, because he rarely loses a point on his serve.

    Even Rafael Nadal wasn't able to stop Isner in tiebreakers at the French Open...and that was on clay. Isner won both breakers against Nadal by the score of 7-2, showing tennis fans just how dangerous he is in the format.

    Murray boasts a very strong return game, but not many players get as much pop or downward angle on each serve as Isner. In addition, the US Open plays a tiebreaker if the score reaches 6-6 in the fifth set. How interesting would that be?

    My Prediction: John Isner keeps the dream alive, beating Murray in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

3. Andy Roddick Tries to Silence Doubters Yet Again

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    The last time Roddick and Nadal squared off at the US Open, Roddick only squandered seven games in a convincing second-round.

    For Roddick, too bad it isn't still 2004.

    Back then, Nadal was not a confident hard-court player, relying on opponent's mistakes rather than creating opportunities for himself. In fact, the two have not played on a Grand Slam stage since that match. However, every match between the two has been as close as the first matchup, minus an encounter on clay.

    Roddick has surprised many, including myself, by making it this far. His match with Ferrer was not a favorable one considering the styles of the two, but Roddick found a game plan that worked and stuck with it.

    If Roddick wants to win this title, he may have to go through four of the top five players in men's tennis, and he'll have to at least take down three of them. For now, Roddick needs to focus on the Spanish speedster.

    To win, Roddick will need to continue crashing the net, making Nadal uncomfortable every chance he gets. Nadal is comfortable hitting passing shots on the run, but Roddick can't get discouraged because he is not going to out muscle Nadal from the baseline.

    Roddick will need a superhuman effort to defeat Nadal, but he's still capable of pulling off the upset.

    My Prediction: Roddick's playing well enough to push the match to four sets, but Nadal will play the big points better and advance to the semis.