Looking as strong as ever, the US Open defending champion managed to outplay the Argentinean in three straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4, to earn his 10th consecutive trip into a Grand Slam semifinals. But despite what you might make out of the overwhelming three set win, Del Potro had a fabulous game against the Serb. The match included a thrilling 20-stroke game that could have only come from a matchup between two previous US Open Championship. Some dozen shots into the play, Del Potro sprinted with his back to the court, got to the ball and lofted a lob the other way. It was a miracoulous save. Djokovic responded with a slamming overhead. Del Potro somehow kept the ball in play right in front of the net. Djokovic laced a drop shot. Again, del Potro got there, attempting another lob. This time, it landed a little long.
This was the turning point of the matchup. Del Po was never able to get back into the game after this point. Juan Martin del Potro had defeated Novak Djokovic on their previous matchup as both went on head to head for the bronze medal in the London 2012 Summer Olympics. At the end, when it came to the bigger stage, it was the Djoker making the best out of that matchup. “We played some incredible rallies and incredible points,” the second-seeded Djokovic said. “It’s always entertaining, always so much fun, playing in these night sessions.” This was by far the first real test for Novak in the 2012 US Open. Let’s not forget that for the better part of the tournament, Djokovic just kept on rolling over his opponents. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t loss a single set yet.
But if anyone was going to give him a fight, a run for his money, that was going to be the tall and slender Argentine that kept on smacking down 100 mph forehands. Just to put this into the right perspective, consider for a moment that Djokovic’s and del Potro’s second set alone lasted 84 minutes. That is, 11 more minutes than the Djoker’s entire first round match last week. It is really a shame that Argentinean player has not been able to reach his full potential since he last won the tournament at Flushing Meadows. Injuries have really kept him from staying constant in the tour. Let’s not forget that he was sidelined for most of the 2010 season because of a right wrist injury that required surgery. Last year he had some issues with his lower back and to make things more complicated earlier this year he had problems with his left wrist, an injury that has limited the effectiveness of his two-fisted backhand.
Djokovic will now face the fourth-seeded David Ferrer in the semifinals on Saturday. Ferrer had to rely heavily on his speed and skill to defeat eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-3, 6-7 (5), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in 4 hours, 31 minutes. The other quarterfinal will be played between Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray and Thomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who pulled off an amazing upset over Roger Federer last night. Stay tuned for more action at the 2012 US Open.
It seems as if the Olympic Gold medal Andy Murray obtained at the London 2012 Summer Olympics have certainly helped him get in the right state of mind to keep on showing that he might just have what it takes to get into the elite trio of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Let’s not forget that just a few weeks earlier, in the same grass courts of the All English Club, Andy Murray had managed his way up to the Wimbledon’s final, were he eventually lost to Roger Federer. But in a nice touch of fate, Murray would go on and face this Swiss Maestro again in the gold medal matchup in the London Olympics. And this time, for the first time in 5 distinct shots, it would be Murray taking the win and his first Olympic medal.
Now, it seems as if he has been able to translate some of that momentum into a solid performance in the US Open that is certainly making him look like one of the favorite to go on and give both Novak Djokovic, the US Open defending Champion, and Roger Federer, in his route to a record-breaking 18th Grand Slam title, a good run for their money. After beating Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, last night, he made it quite clear that this is the best tennis we’ve seen him play ever, and that he is ready to go and get his first Grand Slam title. His recent performances have been phenomenal and after the surgically precise win over Raonic, Murray has now reached his 8th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Don’t let the overwhelming score make you think for a second that Milos Raonic was not a brilliant contestant. Just consider the following statistics to make up your mind about Raonic. The 21-year-old’s best weapon is his serve. He came into the match with 89 aces in three matches, this is 21 more aces than the Argentinean Nicolas Almagro, who had played four games. His fastest serve was clocked at 143 mph, one off the tournament high established by John Isner. As a matter of fact the Canadian (although born in Montenegro) pro who currently resides in Monte Carlo hit 14 aces for the game. That included one bullet that hit 140 mph on the radar. And yet, Andy Murray made it look real easy as he toyed with the ATP World Tour’s No. 16-ranked player. It looks as if the confidence boost has given Murray the trust he needs to star playing towards the lines under pressure and his artillery seems now much more diverse and effective on the key games.
“I used a lot of variation tonight,” Murray said in the postgame press conference. “Milos has a massive game. I had to guess sometimes. I was lucky, because they fly past you and sometimes you get a racket on it. Tonight I got a racket on it.” Now it’s really up to him to find a way to get back in the game and bring back home his first mayor. He has the motivation, and to make it a bit easier, Rafa Nadal is out resting his sore knee. This looks like his best shot yet. Let’s see if he can get it.
Rhyne Williams is a 21-year-old qualifier into the US Open at Flushing Meadows. He was thrilled to be playing his first ever Grand Slam tournament. Rhyne had a decent run earlier this season, and the 2011 runner-up of the NCAA title, had been invited into the Open. He actually won three matches in the qualifying stages of the US Open and was maybe hoping that he could make it pass the first round. Though luck I guess, because Williams had to face No. 28th ranked player in the world, and he just simply didn’t hold a chance against the 30-year-old veteran Andy Roddick. Sure enough, Roddick’s career hasn’t really reached it’s full potential because of the series of injuries that have one after another affected his game over the years. One thing is clear though: despite the years, the injuries his serve is still without par in the tour. He finished off a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win against Williams with 20 aces. Oh yeah, and he finished it off with style. He shot a 141mph ace to close the first set; a 134mph ace to close the second; a 127mph bullet to close the third.
Then again, we have to remember one thing: Roddick knows exactly what it takes to win the championship. After all, he is the 2003 US Open, and he knows he has to rely heavily on his serve now that he is playing against other players who once used to cheer for him. Let’s not forget that by the time Roddick won his last Grand Slam, Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tennessee was only a 12-year-old kid. It’s been a while sicne the 2003 US Open. It’s been a very long time particularly for USA Tennis. That was the last Grand Slam singles title for an American man, the longest drought in history. Let’s put this drought into perspective, we are talking about the country that produced the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.
Andy Roddick is not to keen to talk about his future, or about a possible retirment coming up soon. After all, it’s been a long while since he last won a Grand Slam and it’s very hard to live under the shadow of both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the better part of a decade. Still, Roddick was making his 13th consecutive U.S. Open appearance yesterday. Many fans, many sports commentators have considered Roddick to be an underachiever. Still, with his training and by the looks of what he put out on the court today, he is willing to alter the expectations this time around, and hopes to be a real contender down the stretch.
In other related news, Novak Djokovic, the other player that next to Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have dominated the Grand Slam circuit, is looking quite strong again this year. The U.S. Open defending title began his run by overwhelming 69th-ranked Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday night. Lorenzi never held a chance against Djokovic who is trying to repeat his win.
Considering what a brilliant summer Andy Murray has had this year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as the last grand slam of the season closes in, the 25-year-old Scotsman comes in as one of the tournament’s favorites. This is by far Andy Murray’s best year yet, and considering the momentum he has build over the last two mayor tournaments, and the fact that Rafael Nadal will be missing out on the Flushing Meadows action, many believe that this is as good a chance to win his first grand slam. Let’s not forget that Murray has reached 4 Grand Slam Finals, and has loss to Roger Federer in each and every one of them. Including his latest run at the Wimbledon Championships. Sure enough Murray became the only British player to reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final in the Open Era.
But a few weeks later, and playing once again at the Centre Court of the All England Club in Wimbledon, it was going to be Andy Murray the man taking the win before his countryman at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. His opponent for the Olympic gold medal was none other than the man who had denied him a Grand Slam titles all this year: Roger Federer. Talk about poetic justice; truth is that Murray on the other hand denied Federer the only one tournament he hasn’t win yet: the Olympic Men’s singles gold medal. So what happened in his opening matchup against No. 73 ranked Russian Alex Bogomolov in the first round of the US Open was very unexpected. Don’t get me wrong here, Murray went on to win the game in three straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, but it was far away from the confidence booster that his closes rivals would had love to see from him.
For the better part of the match Murray looked very uneasy. Alex Bogomolov managed to brake his first two service games and was down a break and 2-4 in the second set before he began to look remotely comfortable. For a moment there he was as far away from a Grand Slam winning form as anyone could wish, but without missing a beat, he dig deep inside of him and managed to get things running soon enough. He never panicked and that allowed him to get things under control. Murray managed to even things at 4-4, and then won 8 of the next 9 games for a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win to dissipate any doubts about his game.
Perhaps he will get significantly better as he starts to play more and more games in the fast courts of Flushing Meadows. Let’s not forget that most of Murray’s struggles on his match against Bogomolov can be attributed to a lack of hard court preparation coming into the tournament. Murray played just three hard court matches leading up to the Open. At the Toronto Masters he won a round but then withdrew prior to his second round match with a knee injury. At the Cincinnati Masters a week later he lost in the second round, to unseeded Jeremy Chardy. He played thirteen games in grass courts in preparation to both Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics. Now, let’s only hope that he can make the needed adjustments as soon as possible and that he can be a real contender for the 2012 US Open title.