Thursday, September 5, 2013

US Open Men's Quarterfinals Top Half Preview

Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislas Wawrinka stand between a dream semifinal between defending champion Andy Murray and world number one Novak Djokovic, as I preview the last two men's quarterfinals at the US Open on Thursday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (21)

English: Djokovic at his 2008 Australian Open ...
 Djokovic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not many players who make it into the second week of a grand slam can boast a victory featuring two bagels in the round of 16. That's exactly what Djokovic did against Marcel Granollers in the last round, dishing a 6-3 6-0 6-0 hammering of the unseeded Spaniard. Mikhail Youzhny is a much better player than Granollers, and is always a dangerous opponent at the US Open, where he has reached the quarterfinals and beyond on two occasions before. However, the Russian veteran goes into the match after a physical marathon where he beat Lleyton Hewitt after coming back from two sets to one down. The fact that he also had to come back from 4-1 and 5-2 down in the fourth and fifth sets respectively speaks of Youzhny's fighting spirit, however no matter how hard he tries, a fresh and confident Djokovic should ease through to the semifinals in straight sets.

Andy Murray (3) vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (9)

The defending champion was rusty yet again in his fourth round victory over the dangerous Denis Istomin, and were it not for Istomin's loose play in some crucial points, the match could well have gone the full distance. Particularly annoying for Murray were a high amount of unforced errors on the forehand, and he will know better than most, that if he doesn't step up the level of his play, his dream of retaining his first grand slam crown is going to go up in smoke. Stanislas Wawrinka is a big step up on Murray's previous opponents at Flushing Meadows, and the elegant Swiss was in spectacular form as he outplayed the big hitting Tomas Berdych in a fantastic victory in the round of 16. Murray knows firsthand that if he doesn't play at his best in this match he is going to be vulnerable to a defeat, as was the case at the US Open third round in 2010, when Wawrinka beat him in four sets. If both men play to their best level, we are going to witness a match of supreme shot making, with Murray's superior fitness and tactical mastery carrying him through in four high quality and well-fought sets against Wawrinka.
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