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Thursday, 4 September 2014

US Open Day 11 Picks 2014 (September 4th)

I caught up with the Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray Quarter Final this morning before I left for work and I have to say I was impressed with the determination that the latter showed even if he came up short.

Murray is a top player that happens to be in an era with three of the all-time greats and winning two Grand Slam titles is not something to be ignored. He isn't quite up to the level of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but Murray is someone who seems to get a hard press when he clearly deserves more praise than he gets.

Don't misunderstand, there are elements of his game that I am not a big fan of, while I hate the clutching of various body parts that he has a habit of doing through events. However, Murray is going to be a player that is perhaps appreciated more once he leaves the sport and I mean that from the perspective of the casual fans rather than the media. There is no doubt the British media will miss the presence of a top 10 British player that followed hot on the heels of Tim Henman, especially as there doesn't look like a lot of ready-made replacements for Murray.

There is still time to rectify that in the changing world of tennis where hitting your 30th birthday is no longer the death knell on a career so I expect Murray to be around for a few years just yet. If he can get himself fully healthy, there is every chance he is challenging for three of the four Grand Slams in 2015 (I discount the French Open while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are around) and it may be a big year for Murray upcoming.

Kei Nishikori's win over Stan Wawrinka may be the point in the career of the Japanese star where he really breaks through as a force in the men's game. One of my big concerns about Nishikori has been his ability to hold up physically in a long tennis season, but his back to back five set wins here have shown he is capable and I am looking forward to the Semi Final against Novak Djokovic and for Nishikori to develop into a threat at Slams moving forward.

The lack of power could be a concern and makes him vulnerable in the earlier Rounds compared with the top guys, but David Ferrer has given him the blueprint to be a success on the Tour and I do believe Nishikori can perhaps push that benchmark a little more.

The two women's Semi Finals have also been set and the tournament schedule has changed slightly to give all four a real chance to win the tournament. There is no longer a full Super Saturday schedule at the US Open which means the Semi Finals are played on Friday, but the women's Final is not set until Sunday.

That is good news for those looking for a really competitive Final and also makes sense for the men's Final to remain on Monday so both players have ample time to prepare for that too. I am not so happy the men's Final is scheduled for a 5pm Eastern Time start, especially with the first NFL Monday Night Football set to start at 7pm Eastern Time and I have little belief the US Open Final is completed in two hours.

After Stan Wawrinka's loss in the fifth set, it took a huge recovery from Serena Williams, who dominated after going down a double break to open her Quarter Final against Flavia Pennetta, and Novak Djokovic's four set win to continue producing an upturn from results in this tournament.

It has been yet another strong Grand Slam showing, which has been the case over the last two years of the blog, and I am hoping for a strong finish over the next five days.

Tomas Berdych - 2.5 games v Marin Cilic: I am a big fan of Marin Cilic, but I am interested to know how much he has left in the tank after a long five set win in the Fourth Round against Gilles Simon, particularly against an opponent like Tomas Berdych who has improved in each passing Round.

Berdych had to come through a five set match earlier in the tournament, but he has dismissed his last two opponents without too many issues, although Cilic may have the mental edge after beating the Czech player at Wimbledon in straight sets.

However, I would favour Cilic on the grass courts against Berdych who, despite reaching a Final at Wimbledon, has never convinced me as being completely comfortable on that surface. On courts other than grass ones, Berdych leads Cilic 5-1 in the head to head including a routine win in Rotterdam on the indoor hard courts earlier this season.

Both have big serves, both are fairly aggressive on returns and there is going to be a lot of big time tennis being played in this Quarter Final which is played during the heat of the day. I can see the first two sets being split, but Berdych's physical condition then being the difference in a four set win and I expect him to cover these games.

Roger Federer win 3-1 v Gael Monfils: If anyone had seen the Gael Monfils win over Grigor Dimitrov, I don't think it is wrong to say that there could have been a real collapse from the Frenchman if Dimitrov had taken his set points in the second set.

Monfils looked angry, tired and frustrated at various times in that Fourth Round win, but he managed to keep himself together just enough to come through with an impressive three set win. This match is scheduled in the evening which may help Monfils and his physical state, but Roger Federer has the experience of the conditions and should prove too strong.

It has been a fairly routine path through the draw for Federer bar a blip against Marcel Granollers, but the last two matches against Monfils have been tough thanks to the big serving the latter has and the more aggressive stance he is taking.

I'd be surprised if this isn't another competitive match between them after the three set match they had in Cincinnati last month and I think Monfils is playing well enough to take a set. However, Federer should keep his mind in the match for longer periods and may break the Monfils resistance in a tough third set which ultimately leads to a four set win.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer Win 3-1 @ 4.00 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

US Open Update: 19-13, + 15.76 Units (58 Units Staked, + 27.17% Yield)

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