It was a poor day for our bets at the US Open on Sunday, with Alex De Minaur getting beaten by Grigor Dimitrov, while outright hope for the semi finals David Goffin was trounced by Roger Federer.
I talked about Goffin’s good starts and capitulations against the elite in my preview of Sunday and he was at it again, leading by an early break against Federer and going on to win just two more games in the match in a rerun of his showing against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.
Speaking of Djokovic, he succumbed to his shoulder injury and opened up the draw a bit in the top half and with Daniil Medvedev also looking likely to be near the end of the road with his fitness, Federer looks well placed for the final now.
The quarter finalists in the bottom half of the men’s draw will be decided on Monday, with Rafael Nadal among those in action on a day that’s expected to potentially be affected by scattered thunderstorms.
The storms are forecast all day, but it’s pot luck as to whether they hit the exact area of the tournament site or not.
Nadal has had few problems so far this tournament, breezing through to the fourth round without dropping a set, although he has played one match fewer than most after Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew.
Nadal has a stellar 39-6 record in the fourth round of majors (87% win percentage) on all surfaces and 19-3 (86%) on hard courts only, so by this stage of Slams he usually has his game dialled in.
That said, he hasn’t had to face anyone with anything like the power of a Marin Cilic this tournament so far, however is this 2019 version of Cilic up to the job of taking down Nadal?
On all evidence we’ve seen so far this season you’d have to say ‘no’, but we said something similar in the 2014 US Open as well and he went on a tear in the last three rounds, not dropping a set against Berdych, Federer and Nishikori.
And that came after being bagelled and breadsticked by Stan Wawrinka in Cincy the tournament before, so Cilic has done it before. Question is, can he do it again?
It’s possible, but he’ll need a huge improvement on his recent form that’s seen him go 3-16 in his last 19 completed matches against top-10 opposition.
He did beat Nadal (technically) in Melbourne at the start of last season when Nadal retired injured, but he’s nowhere near the form he was in that day at the moment and making way too many errors to compete with the Spaniard.
If you’re backing Cilic you’re hoping he’s going to recapture his form of old, which is perfectly possible, but not a betting proposition for me.
Instead, I prefer the chances of Diego Schwartzman to upset Alexander Zverev, but it shows the respective form of the two players that the Argentine is only slight underdog here (he was a 4.19 shot when they met in Paris indoors at the end of last season).
If we take the respective stats of the pair of them on outdoor hard at main level in the current season we find that Schwartzman has outperformed Zverev in pretty much every category (other than first serve points won).
Indeed, Schwartzman has been impressive, winning 13 of his 19 matches and recording a superb hold/break total of 113.5 in that time, while Zverev is 13-6 and 104.2.
Going further and looking at numbers from each man versus the current top-25 on all surfaces this season we can see that Zverev has struggled, losing eight of his 11 matches and posting a hold/break total of just 90.1.
Schwartzman has won eight and lost eight of his 16 and with a hold/break total of 96.4.
It could be argued that Schwartzman is actually better suited to hard courts, as he gets more out of his serve and groundies in faster conditions and it’s him that posted the best numbers on serve as well as return than Zverev this fortnight.
Schwartzman has held serve 89.7% of the time this tournament (Zverev 85.1) and broken over 50% of the time, but it’s fair to say that his opposition hasn’t been of the highest quality.
Zverev has been a fraction better this tournament than we’ve seen form his for most of the season, but he’s relied on his serve to get through some very tight matches once again.
He probably won’t have that luxury against the excellent returning of Schwartzman and I’m happy to take the underdog in this one.
Gael Monfils turned 33 on Sunday and his first match at that age will be against a surprise name in the fourth round stage of a hard court major, Pablo Andujar.
Indeed, this is the first time that the 33-year-old Spanish clay courter has made the fourth round of any of his 33 major appearances and he’d only previously made the third round twice before this week (Wimbledon and French Open in 2015).
On paper this should be a routine win for Monfils, but when has Lamonf ever delivered a straightforward and drama-free victory at a major (or anywhere, come to that)?
After a five setter that should really have been over in four the previous round against Denis Shapovalov the main worry for Monfils backers here is fitness, with the Frenchman never a cert to see any contest out due to one ailment or another.
Indeed, the last time that Monfils won a five setter at a major (he’d lost five of his last six prior to beating Denis Shapovalov) he retired in the next round to Goffin here in New York in 2017.
Prior to that he played back-to-back five-setters at the 2015 French Open and then lost to Federer, while at the Australian Open of the same year Monfils beat Lucas Pouille in five and then lost to Jerzy Janowicz next up.
I had to go back to the 2011 Australian Open to fins an occasion on a hard court that Monfils had won the next match after a five setter at a major and given his injury concerns coming into New York I’d be worried about his fitness here (unless he gets an extra day off due to the expected bad weather).
Given the way that Andrey Rublev is playing at the moment, beating one of the big servers in my database for the fifth time in six matches when he took out Nick Kyrgios in round three, he looks a fair favourite against Matteo Berrettini.
Rublev defeated Berrettini on indoor hard earlier this season in lively conditions in Marseille as slight underdog and I’d expect his fast arm to be a real problem for the Italian, whose movement isn’t the best.
Latter stages of majors aren’t usually the best places to go value-seeking and so just half a point on Schwartzman today is all for me.
0.5 points win Schwartzman to beat Zverev at 1.98