We were a tad unlucky with our bets at the US Open on Tuesday when Roger Federer did take a one-break opening set against Grigor Dimitrov, but won it 6-3 instead of 6-4.
With Federer struggling with a back injury he still led Dimitrov 2-1 and had five break chances from 0-40 to get it back to 5-5 in the fourth set and perhaps finish it off for a 3-1 win, but it wasn’t to be.
“I was playing with it [the back injury] the whole time, but I was able to play,” Federer said. “I needed treatment on my upper back.”
The Swiss veteran was unable to even be competitive in the fifth and incredibly, Dimitrov, who didn’t fancy his chances of even making round four, is into the semis and will play Daniil Medvedev, who again defied his body to win a match here in New York.
It looks like the weather may play a bit of a part again in proceedings on Wednesday, with more scattered thunderstorms and wind expected in the Flushing area in the afternoon.
That will probably mean they’ll play with the roof closed, which, according to the players, has made conditions slower and lower bouncing.
And that would probably suit Gael Monfils, who has a fine chance of making a second career US Open semi final when he takes on first-time major quarter finalist Matteo Berrettini.
There’s a lot to like about Monfils’ chances here anyway, with the Frenchman miles ahead on the recent outdoor hard court stats as well as holding a very good recent record against big servers and being much more experienced in these sorts of matches.
Monfils has recorded some great numbers this past year on this surface at main level, with a 15-6 win/loss mark and a service hold/break total of 116.7, which includes breaking serve 30.4% of the time.
Berrettini is nowhere near that level, with a 7-9 win/loss mark and a 102.9 hold/break total that sees him break serve half as often as Monfils at around 15%.
Monfils’ substantially better return game is highlighted in the fact that he’s won nine of his last 10 matches on outdoor hard (16 of his last 19 on all surfaces) against the big servers in my database and broken them almost 17% of the time.
So, I’m not too concerned about the big Berrettini serve, when Monfils has beaten Isner, Cilic, Anderson, Karlovic, Raonic and Querrey on this surface in his last 10 matches versus my big servers.
From the back of the court the variety that Monfils does possess, combined with his much better movement than the Italian and better backhand, suggests that he should be able to pull the big man around and make him hit off balance.
To do that he’ll need to not allow Berrettini the time on the ball that for some reason Rublev did in Berrettini’s last match here, but that’s well within his reach, assuming he doesn’t revert to being negative and too defensive.
Monfils has a fair amount of experience playing in major quarter finals (this will be his ninth) and although he has lost six of them, he was underdog in seven of his previous eight.
The one he was favourite for was here in 2016 when he beat Lucas Pouille in straight sets and I’m a little unsure as to how Berrettini will react on this stage in a major quarter final.
He was woeful against Roger Federer at Wimbledon and I think all told it’s a big ask for Berrettini, but I suppose you can never be really sure about Monfils, with his suspect brain and body always likely to let him down just when you think he’s on the right track at last.
But Gael has won 11 of his last 14 completed matches at main level when priced up between 1.50 and 1.69, so he’s been surprisingly reliable in today’s price range.
It looks a good match-up for Monfils to me and I’m happy to take him -2.5 games here at 1.77.
Most people, I imagine, have already advanced the name of Rafael Nadal to the semi finals and he probably will get there against Diego Schwartzman, but I’m not so sure this will be as easy as odds of 1.06 on Nadal suggest.
Schwartzman has given Nadal a decent match on both prior occasions that they’ve clashed at a major on a hard court and also took a set on clay at the French Open – and he’s improved since then.
As I’ve said before, I think he’s better suited to a medium paced hard court than clay, as he gets more out of his offensive play and while I doubt it’ll be enough to beat Nadal he’s got a good chance of making the overs land.
The superb return game of Schwartzman has seen him create 0.84 break point chances per game against Nadal in their three Slam meetings, which is almost identical to the 0.88 break opportunities that Rafa had had against Schwartzman.
Essentially, Nadal has been better on the big points in a very return oriented series (all surfaces) in which Nadal has only won 65.7% of the points on his first serve.
By way of comparison he’s won 75% of his first serve points (all surfaces) in his last 50 Slam matches, so Schwartzman, who’s broken serve almost 50% of the time this tournament so far, will surely get his chances on Wednesday night.
Whether he can take them or not is another matter, with Nadal saving 76.1% of the break chances against him versus Schwartzman in their three Slam clashes.
I imagine there’ll be a lot of long rallies in this and if we look at those last two meetings on hard courts at major level we find that it took Nadal 181 minutes to beat Schwartzman in straight sets at the 2015 US Open when Schwartzman was ranked 75th in the world.
It took him almost four hours to get by Schwartzman in Melbourne in a four setter last year (and 222 minutes to beat him on clay at the French) so over 150.5 minutes at 1.87 looks a bet here.