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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

US Open Tennis Day 10 Picks 2017 (September 6th)

My first experience of the US Open live and in person was absolutely special and aided by two magnificent women's matches featuring home players which ignited the atmosphere on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It's not quite over for me as I have got the opportunity to return to Flushing Meadows on Wednesday as I was desperate to get the chance to see Rafael Nadal compete this year. Either on Sunday or Monday in the days ahead, I will put up a longer blog with a few pictures I took from around the grounds, but I would definitely highly recommend to anyone that visiting the US Open is well worth the time.

The final four Quarter Final matches are scheduled for Wednesday and my picks are below.

Rafael Nadal - 7.5 games v Andrey Rublev: There is so much expectation on the shoulders of Andrey Rublev who is one of the up and coming stars on the ATP Tour. He hasn't received the same sort of attention as the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev as far as the casual fans are concerned because Rublev had not had a huge breakthrough tournament like the one he has been enjoying at the US Open.

The wins over Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin have to be completely respected, but I think both of those players are not of the same level and intensity that Rafael Nadal will bring to the court. Dimitrov was really poor in his loss to Rublev, while Goffin has not looked the same player since his fall at the French Open which forced him to miss Wimbledon with an injury, but those charges can't be levelled at Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard plays every point like his life depends on it and it is rare to see him lacking fire in matches even when he is not playing his best tennis. That is important in this match and I think it is going to help him cover what looks a big handicap for a Quarter Final of any Grand Slam.

My reasoning is that Rublev has overachieved so far in this tournament and his numbers are going to be tested to the extremes by Nadal. Rublev was also convincingly beaten by Ernests Gulbis and Hyeon Chung in tournaments prior to the US Open and his numbers against top 20 Ranked players prior to the US Open were nothing to write home about.

Some will say Rublev's two wins over top 20 players in this tournament, the first in his career, may have changed that, but I don't really agree with that. He was down a break against Dimitrov in both the first and second set but the Bulgarian did not playing anything near the standard he should have done at those times and I am not sure Rublev gets away with that against Nadal.

Despite some slow starts to matches this week, Nadal has won all four matches so far at the US Open by a margin of at least nine games each time. Credit has to be given to Rublev for this surprising run, but I expect that to come to an end here and Nadal's intensity likely to wear him down in a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: It is hard to forget the 2009 US Open men's Final which may be the best Final I have watched at this tournament. On that day Juan Martin Del Potro, one of my favourite players on the Tour, was able to get the better of Roger Federer although the head to head has been dominated by the latter for much of their careers.

Things have changed since 2009 with the wrist injury suffered by Del Potro taking away some of the dangerous groundstrokes he used to win the title here. However he is just glad to be back playing tennis at this level, although Del Potro has also been dealing with a virus this week.

In some ways he may be a little fortunate to be in this Quarter Final after going 2-0 down in sets in the Fourth Round against Dominic Thiem and also saving two match points before winning that match in five sets. While that will give Del Potro plenty of confidence, the level of competition definitely moves up a couple of gears in this Quarter Final with an improving Roger Federer in front of him.

There have been questions about Federer's health in the lead up to the US Open and his opening two matches at the tournament suggested there were some limitations in his game. However Federer has looked much stronger the last couple of matches and has admitted that he is feeling much stronger now than he was ten days ago.

That is important for him as he takes on someone who can take the racquet out of his hands. However the backhand wing has become a real vulnerable area for Del Potro and he will need to serve at his very best to remain competitive as far as I am concerned. He can do that on his day, but it is a big ask for Del Potro who was beaten routinely by Federer when they met for the first time in four years at the Miami Masters back in March.

Federer should prove to be too good again with the improving performances he is producing and I am looking for him to do enough to win and cover this number of games.

Karolina Pliskova-Coco Vandeweghe over 22.5 games: There is little doubt that there is likely to be plenty of big hitting off the serve and the groundstrokes when Karolina Pliskova and Coco Vandeweghe meet in the first of the women's Quarter Final matches to be played on Wednesday. The conditions are not ideal with the wind picking up in New York City, but there is every chance the roof is required today which is only going to make it 'easier' for these two players to look to dominate behind the serve.

The serve is going to be a huge weapon for both players in this one and I have to say the player who is able to produce as close to their best from that shot is likely to deliver the win.

Both players should be full of confidence after impressing in the Fourth Round and both have had to show their mettle to get through a couple of three setters. Karolina Pliskova has even saved match points as the World Number 1 looks to continue her run at the US Open where she reached the Final in 2016, but she will also have to deal with the crowd who should be fully behind the American Vandeweghe.

I am leaning towards Pliskova as the winner because I do think she can be the more consistent player of the two. There have been are times when Vandeweghe can put in a seriously sub-par performances which can make it hard to trust her, but she is the underdog in this one and I think that may ease some of the pressure she has to be feeling in a big match in her career.

Overall it does feel like this could be a close match and this is another that is likely to be dominated by the two serves. That could mean even a long two set match could see the total games surpassed like it was in Coco Vandeweghe's last match against Lucie Safarova, while there is every chance the tension of the match could see a couple of swings that produces yet another women's match needing a deciding set.

The women's draw has been fantastic in the last few days and I think this match may add to that. I will look for at least a 7-6, 6-4 result to come out of this one, but don't be surprised if we see three sets in this latest Quarter Final.

Madison Keys v Kaia Kanepi Pick in the 'MY PICKS' section.

MY PICKS: Rafael Nadal - 7.5 Games @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova-Coco Vandeweghe Over 22.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Madison Keys-Kaia Kanepi Under 19.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

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