Yet another Grand Slam-less year for Rafael Nadal. His second in the last 12 years and also his second in the last two. The last Grand Slam that Nadal won was the French Open in 2014. Since then, Novak Djokovic has won 6, Andy Murray 1, Stan Wawrinka 1 and Marin Cilic 1. Nadal was on a resurrection path after being sidelined due to injury. He won the gold medal in doubles and narrowly missed out on a medal in singles at the Olympics. Though US Open has been Nadal’s best Grand Slam this year in terms of performance, it was still subpar. Roger Federer was hoping that Nadal could reiterate what Federer had done back in 2008. Federer won the Olympic gold medal in doubles and went on to win the US Open. Well, Nadal winning the US Open was a stretch of expectation ofcourse, but it wasn’t impossible.
Credit to Lucas Pouille for having played a great match and for sticking to his game plan. Nadal did not play a bad match, he was just out of focus when it mattered the most. The match witnessed Nadal’s grueling backhand winners, kissing-the-line forehands, fist pumps and shouts of Vamos!. But, Pouille knew what he had to do and did not let go of any opportunity that was offered to him. Nadal was a break up in the fifth set but couldn’t sum up the match even after having taken the lead. Pouille clawed back into the match and won it in the tie breaker (US Open is the only Grand Slam to have a tie breaker in the fifth set).
The French have taken New York by surprise with three of them reaching the last eight. Jo Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille are into the quarter finals and all three have recorded their best performance at the US Open. Monfils is in line to qualify for the Year-end World Tour finals if he continues his deep runs in major tournaments. He plays countryman Lucas Pouille in the quarters. Tsonga will take on defending champion Novak Djokovic, who seems to have had it easy so far which wouldn’t be the case against Tsonga for sure.
Juan Martin DelPotro v. Stan Wawrinka is going to be the best quarter final match of this tournament. DelPotro, considered the most dangerous man in tennis currently, is having a dream run. Coming off a superb Olympics, everything just seems to be working out for him. He is a former champion at the US Open and is sure playing like one. He has also become the lowest ranked player since 1991 to reach the quarter finals at the US Open. He is currently ranked 142 but will make a giant leap in the rankings next week. He enjoys a 4-2 Head to Head record against Wawrinka having won their previous 4 matches. They have never played on hard court and the match could swing either way.
My take for the upcoming matches:
J M DelPotro v. S Wawrinka – DelPotro in four sets
N Djokovic v. J W Tsonga – Djokovic in four sets
L Pouille v. G Monfils – Monfils in five sets
A Murray v. K Nishikori – Murray in four sets
Djokovic’s Wimbledon loss has brought Murray within sight of the No. 1 ranking. Should Murray win the US Open and perform well in the tournaments that follow, he might not only become No. 1 but also finish the season at the top spot. Djokovic has to defend everything from now on (US Open, Beijing Open, Shanghai Masters, Paris Masters, ATP World Tour Finals), which is going to be a difficult task even for Djokovic and he is likely to drop a couple of points.
And then there is Serena Williams, creating history with every match she wins.