THE remaining places in the US Open men’s singles semi-finals will be filled on day 10 in New York when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal try to set up a stellar last-four clash.
Federer takes on Juan Martin del Potro in a repeat of the classic 2009 final here while Nadal faces young gun Andrey Rublev who is into a maiden Grand Slam quarter final.
I landed another winner for the daily bets yesterday when the Sam Querrey versus Kevin Anderson match went past the 41.5 total games mark but it was yet another crushing blow for the outrights as my 75-1 chance fell with a spot in the final within his grasp.
I said yesterday there was probably slight value on Anderson as underdog there so it’s hardly a surprising loss for Querrey but with a semi-final against Pablo Carreno Busta the reward it’s another rough loss in a season of tough outright defeats in the latter stages.
Day 10 at Flushing Meadows promises to be a rainy one so it looks like the roof will be closed if the forecast is to be believed.
Federer v Del Potro
It’s a 22nd career meeting between these two former US Open champions in the night match in the early hours of Thursday morning UK time and as has so often been the case this tournament our first thoughts are about fitness.
On the one hand we have the injury-prone Delpo who was reportedly suffering with some sort of flu prior to his match against Dominic Thiem and on the other a 36-year-old with a dodgy back.
Delpo would appear to be the one struggling the most having had to summon up the last drops of energy to fight off a choking Thiem on Monday and all that after a slow start and more than a few hints he would retire mid-match.
So, goodness knows what sort of condition the Tower of Tandil will turn up in this time but perhaps his love affair with the US Open and his run to the Olympic final last year are guides to how deep he’ll dig.
In that Olympic run just over 12 months ago Del Potro played six tight battles in a week, including beating Novak Djokovic and Nadal before pushing Andy Murray hard in the final, so he has it in the locker if he’s not laid low by illness.
He said he was “sick the last two days” before the Thiem match, so once again we are guessing a bit on fitness, as we seem to have been most days this US Open.
And of course it’s a bit of a different match-up now to the one we saw back in 2009 and indeed Fed and Delpo have only clashed once since 2013 which was in Miami earlier this year so the career series is somewhat irrelevant.
Federer at 36 plays quicker points, less slice, more aggressive, while Delpo’s two-handed backhand was a huge weapon back in 2009 but now that he’s using the slice a lot more due to injuries he’s at a big disadvantage, allowing Fed to dictate play on that side.
In that Miami meeting back in March it was the Swiss who was able to control things and take Delpo’s crunching forehand largely out of the equation and you feel unless Del Potro is able to hit through some of his backhands Fed should be in charge again.
Going back to the fitness side of things, Federer went off court for a MTO on his lower back area during the second set of his comfortable 3-0 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber and of that he said: “It was more precaution. It’s all good. No problems there. I’m not worried about it.”
I’m not convinced though and once again we may be talking about injuries come the end of this match but from a stats viewpoint Federer is some way ahead of his rival as you’d expect.
Federer’s hold/break total on outdoor hard over the last 12 months (29 matches) is 116, while Delpo’s is 104.2, and in their career series on outdoor hard Federer holds serve 90.1% of the time compared to 78.5 for Delpo.
So, with the roof likely to be closed as well, which will allow Fed to go for his shots untroubled by wind, it all seems to point to a pretty comfortable Federer win and the Swiss -5.5 games at 1.79 is the bet here.
Nadal v Rublev
It’s been a good few months for the talented young Russian who won Umag on the clay as a qualifier in July and his improvement has continued to the point where he’s now a major quarter-finalist – something Alexander Zverev is yet to accomplish.
But you’d imagine this is where the journey ends for Rublev, with Nadal surely likely to make the Russian play far too many balls, and consistency is not a strong point of the flashy Rublev.
He’s certainly learning more about the right balls to unleash on of late under the watchful eye of coach Fernando Vicente but he’s a fair way from the finished article.
He can at least ruffle Nadal’s feathers though, with his fast playing style and aggressive approach and I wouldn’t be shocked if he took a set, but any more would be surprising.
At his best he’s great to watch and his team will be delighted with his performance here, dropping only one set in total against Aljaz Bedene, Grigor Dimitrov, Damir Dzumhur and David Goffin.
But Bedene and Goffin were both struggling physically and Dimitrov was terrible, so maybe we shouldn’t get too carried away by this run and the bet I quite like here is for Rublev to hit most double faults -0.5 at 1.77.
Rublev will be under pressure to hold serve in his first major quarter-final and that may result in errors but it any case his double faults per game ratio on outdoor hard this season is almost twice that of Nadal.
The Spaniard has hit just 0.15 double faults per game on outdoor hard in 2017 compared the 0.28 of Rublev and that bet is one option here.
Under 132.5 total minutes is another option, with not many long rallies expected due to Rublev’s desire to pull the trigger early and it may turn out to be a similar sort of match to the Alexandr Dolgopolov one for Rafa.
That one lasted 101 minutes and it seems to me a big ask for Rublev in his first match on the cavernous Arthur Ashe Court in a maiden major quarter-final to come out and take it to Nadal successfully.
Sean's Best Bet
- 2pts win Federer -5.5 games to beat Del Potro
- (4-5, Unibet)