Wednesday night offered up a stunner in New York – Juan Martin del Potro in four sets over Roger Federer.
As a result, we won’t have the much publicised Federer v Nadal US Open semifinal; instead, Rafa will go head-to-head with the Argentine.
Who’s winning that? The Tennismash team of Paul Moore, Vivienne Christie, Matt Trollope and Leigh Rogers give their thoughts, as well as discussing the women’s semifinals and the No.1 credentials of Garbine Muguruza.
Moore: Grab your iPod Classic and turn on Empire State of Mind – we’re back in 2009. Delpo was the first man to beat Roger and Rafa in the same tournament, and I’m predicting he’ll also be the last (yes, that’s right). The big man is fearless, he’s swinging, and he’s got nothing to lose. Delpo in four.
Christie: Logic says Rafa, given the ease with which he won his quarterfinal and the fact that he’ll be out to atone for his loss to Del Potro at the Rio Olympics. Juan Martin, though, has just got a feel of magic about him. He’s once again turned Flushing Meadows into his place, and I think he’ll ride the mass fan support all the way to the title.
Trollope: It’s hard to see anyone stopping Rafa from here. After some scratchy performances in the early rounds, he banished Dologpolov in straight sets and then obliterated young Rublev in the quarters. That said, I’d rate del Potro’s chances against the world No.1 as greater than Federer’s would have been. Delpo’s beaten Nadal plenty of times before – including in the US Open semifinals of 2009 – and has the brute force to hit through Nadal. So although I think Rafa will win, I imagine del Potro will go down swinging.
Rogers: Delpo has survived two emotionally draining matches in the past two rounds, while Nadal has advanced in much more straight-forward fashion. Does that matter? You could argue that physically Nadal will be advantaged, but I think a match-hardened Delpo is actually a more daunting proposition. For that reason, I’m tipping Delpo to continue his fairytale run.
Moore: Based on the fact she’s walloped her twice in the last month, Madison Keys has to be favourite in the top half (that said, she always seems to trip up at this stage of the big tournaments). Venus v Sloane is a tough one to call, though. The reality is Venus’ experience will probably give her the edge, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Sloane in the final.
Christie: Can’t we just call American tennis as the winner? No? Then I say Madison Keys and Venus Williams. Keys will be confident after over her victory over CoCo Vandeweghe in the Stanford final and I’m not sure CoCo’s renowned boldness is such a factor against a friend and countrywoman. So little separates the other semifinalists but Sloane Stephens, out for almost a year, has already made an epic run to this stage. Targeting a third Grand Slam final for 2017 and following that stunning victory over Petra Kvitova, Venus seems that little bit more credentialled.
Trollope: Venus and CoCo. As brilliant as Sloane has been, I think Venus will simply be too steady, experienced and match-tough for a player still on the comeback trail. Vandeweghe and Keys is harder to call – but after two losses to Keys in the US summer, I feel CoCo will have figured her out now. Third time lucky, as they say …
Rogers: I’m predicting a Venus Williams v Madison Keys final. Venus was impressive in her win against Kvitova and knows how to handle these occasions, giving her an important edge over Sloane Stephens. The other semifinal is the most unpredictable. In a high-pressure situation with both playing for their first Grand Slam final it could come down to who best controls their emotional energy in a productive way, which is why I’m backing Keys to win.
Moore: I guess. I mean, yes. But wouldn’t it be great if a WTA No.1 won their way to the top of the world, instead of getting there because of other players’ failings? Angie Kerber did it in ’16 (admittedly it hasn’t worked out great since then), and there was nothing but goodwill towards her as a result. Garbi is the best player in the world right now; I just think it would have given her more legitimacy if she had proved that with a win at Flushing Meadows.
Christie: Just as she thrives on the big stage of a Grand Slam, Garbine Muguruza will star in the No.1 spotlight. Already, Garbi brings so many credentials: she won Wimbledon, backed up in Cincinnati and showed all round consistency on hard courts. She’s not only a legitimate No.1, but poised for a long stay in that position.
Trollope: Yes. Although she hasn’t been as consistent as Pliskova – the play she’s displacing – in the past 12 months, Muguruza has a grander presence and the ability to produce her best tennis on the biggest stages. Her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon validated her greatness and made her ascent to top spot feel right. It’s just a shame she wasn’t able to get there after a better result in New York.
Rogers: With a Grand Slam title and the highest number of ranking points earned in the past 12 months, it is hard to argue otherwise! Muguruza’s improved consistency this season has been impressive and makes her deserving of the top spot.
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