US Open 2011: Can Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Make It to the Semis?

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US Open 2011: Can Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Make It to the Semis?
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After twenty or so hours of rest, the bottom half of the men's draw goes on court yet again. This time, they're competing for a spot among the final four and the chance of meeting either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in the final.

John Isner vs. Andy Murray

American John Isner will play in his first ever Grand Slam semifinal, when he enters the Arthur Ashe stadium court against Andy Murray. It's the ace-leader of the tour against the second best returner on tour. In fact, nobody wins more return points on first serve than Andy Murray.

The Scotsman will need this skill when Isner fires 140 mph bullets towards him, and high-kicking second serves. Isner will have the crowd exclusively on his side, but the question is, will itl be enough? Though Murray is often mocked for his lack of a Slam title, his consistency at the top of men's tennis is within the top three.

More often than not, Murray makes the semifinal of a slam. And, while he tend to have a blip during the tournament, he has already had that blip and has looked super focused ever since.

To stay in the match, Isner will need to make it to the tiebreaks. Once he gets there he's deadly, as evidenced against Giles Simon yesterday and by his fifth place on the all-time ATP tiebreak list. The problem for Isner is that Murray tends to be able to break serve.

Look for Isner to finish points as quickly as he can and for Murray to scramble to see if he can get Isner running.

Isner should be able to get to a tiebreak or two and maybe steal a set, but Murray will not be denied.

Murray in four. 

Andy Roddick vs. Rafael Nadal

The defending champion versus the 2003 champion. What more can we ask for?

Roddick, hailed as a young prodigy and successor to the Sampras-Agassi dynasty, has quickly become a second fiddle to friend and nemesis Roger Federer. In the 22 times they have met, Roddick has won a mere two. He has also lost eight times at the slam level to the Swiss Maestro.

When Roddick doesn't have to worry about meeting Federer at the end of a Slam tournament, Nadal  is standing in his way to glory.

On the bright side, Roddick is only 3-6 against Nadal and 3-3 on hard court, including defeating Nadal in the 2004 US Open while Nadal was still 18.

It's safe to say that it hasn't exactly been Roddick's year. He has just dropped out of the top 20 and will need further advancement against Nadal to hope to make it back to the top of men's tennis.

That said, Roddick has shown good signs in this US Open. He has only lost two sets on his way to the quarters and has been breaking serve more often than he usual does.

It is no secret, that Nadal likes rhythm and dreads the big servers that deny him that. In order to stay in the match, Roddick will need a picture perfect serving day and enough guts to go for his shots and finish the points early instead of trying to rally with the master of baseline tennis.

However, despite a good win against Gilles Simon, I doubt Roddick has enough game to stay with and challenge Nadal in a best of five. Nadal looked as good as ever yesterday against Gilles Muller and pulled out impossible shots, whenever Muller tried to be aggressive by going to the net.

Roddick's approach shots are better than Muller's, but not exactly perfect. With the crowd's support and the knowledge that he isn't going to be present this late in the slams for long, Roddick should get a set. But the match?

I am afraid not.

Nadal in four.  

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