Tag Archive | "Wimbledon"

Federer on Track for Seventh Title at Wimbledon

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Federer on Track for Seventh Title at Wimbledon


For the second year in a row, Roger Federer is on course to equalize Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is also through to the second week as he goes for his third French Open-Wimbledon duo. While Novak Djokovic, the hottest player this season, is in great form through three matches.

The world’s top three players are still the ones to beat heading into the round of 16 while world number four and hometown pick Andy Murray is also alive with an outside chance. Here’s a review of the past few days and a look at the rest of the tournament.

Federer has looked superb through the first three rounds of play. The Swiss dominated his third round match against a less than 100% David Nalbandian who’s had his number previously.

In the fourth round, Federer takes on Mikhail Youzhny. Federer has won all ten of their prior meetings and the Russian has never been beyond the round of 16 at this event.

David Ferrer tied his best showing at the All England Club by reaching the round of 16 and will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was a quarterfinalist last year. The winner of that contest will probably battle Federer in the quarterfinals.

After straight sets triumphs his initial two matches, Djokovic had to bear down against Marcos Baghdatis to move on in four in the third round. On Monday, Djokovic meets Michael Llodra in the fourth round. Although Llodra is sensational on grass, he should be no match for Djokovic.

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Venus and Serena Williams Maneuver Their Way into the Second Week at Wimbledon

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Venus and Serena Williams Maneuver Their Way into the Second Week at Wimbledon


A definite truism which applies to Serena Williams is that she’s always hungry for another major. The two time defending champion demonstrated that despite some first week cobwebs, she is prepared to fight for a “three-peat” at the All England Club.

Venus Williams, a five time champion at Wimbledon, is still in contention for another title on her most successful surface. Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, is almost playing to the standards expected of her. Sharapova is trying to get pass the fourth round for the first time since 2006 at this venue.

The most stunning early departure was 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva. Here’s a mid-tournament summary and a preview of the interesting match-ups to come.

After going the distance her first two rounds, Serena Williams cruised in the third round against Maria Kirilenko. The next round, Serena will have to bring her best stuff against Marion Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon finalist. Bartoli is playing with great confidence since winning her maiden grass court title in Eastbourne.

Subsequent to a comfortable opening match, Venus Williams clawed past 40 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second round. However, in the third round, Venus coasted to victory. Next up for Venus is Tsvestana Pironkova.

In a rematch of last year’s semifinal, Pironkova avenged her lost to Zvonareva in the third round. In 2010, Pironkova reached the semifinals by upending Venus in the quarterfinals. Pironkova also ousted Venus at the Australian Open in 2006. With Pironkova’s 2-1 against Venus, this tussle could be another doozy.

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field


For the first time at the All England Club, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds. Defending champion Nadal will fight to collect his third hardware at this venue and his third French Open-Wimbledon combo. Djokovic who registered his maiden loss of the year at the previous major after a forty-one match unbeaten run will attempt to reach his first final at SW 19.

Two other competitors are also hoping to make history. Third seed Roger Federer tries to equalize Pete Sampras’ all time record of seven titles while fourth seed Andy Murray carries the aspirations of an isle on his shoulders. This fortnight, Murray aims to terminate his nation’s 75 year drought at its home major. Here’s the breakdown of the 2011 Wimbledon draw.

For world number one Nadal, it should be smooth sailing until the third round. In that session, the defending champion could be bothered by phenom Milos Raonic. Again in the round of 16, Nadal will be on crash alert with Juan Martin Del Potro his likely opponent. Consequently, there are various rocks along the road early on for the top seed.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal could face a rematch of last year’s final with Tomas Berdych. Considering Berdych’s average performance this season, the Spaniard should have the advantage. However, a semifinal against either Andy Roddick, a three time finalist, or Murray will be a harder challenge.

Having won the Queen’s Club trophy for the second time, Murray has once more found his mojo. Murray’s potential third round counterpart is Marin Cilic and either Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. While these are all worthy adversaries, Murray should have the upper hand.

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Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy

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Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy


The Williams sisters made their long awaited return to competitive tennis this week. Despite being rusty, with nine of the last eleven championships at the All England Club, Venus and Serena are among the favorites. Moreover, the Wimbledon draw sets up the potential for a fifth all Williams final. Here’s a more detailed analysis.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki hopes to validate her ranking with a first major. However, Wozniacki will need to do some heavy lifting to achieve that feat.

In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki may have to go through 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. In addition, for the Dane, a semifinal encounter with defending and four time winner Serena or reigning French Open champion Na Li may be in the cards. Needless to say, Wozniacki will have to work hard to earn her maiden major.

Serena will begin her title defense by facing the talented Aravane Rezai in the first round. In the fourth round, Serena could see another sizeable French hurdle in 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli.

Later, in the quarterfinals, Serena may clash against Li who is no push over. In Li’s case, Sabine Lisicki may present difficulties in the second round. Lisicki has been regaining her form and confidence as is evident with her recent title in Birmingham.

Sharapova is again in the mix at another major. While a first round match with countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze could be testy, Sharapova should come through. Sharapova is likely to have a tougher time in the fourth round if Samantha Stosur is the opponent.

Serena had been out of commission nearly a year. For the seventh seed to claim her fifth Wimbledon crown, she will have to come up with the type of performance which resulted in her surprise victory at the Australian Open in 2007. With Serena’s track record, it’s certainly hard to bet against her. Yet, with Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Flavia Pennetta and Julia Goerges in the top half of the draw, there is an endless list of players capable of pulling off an upset.

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title



For the second consecutive day, the French Open became a part of history as Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1 to equal Bjorn Borg with six French Open titles. Nadal also became the seventh man in the exclusive club of those with 10 or more major trophies.

The last time the two clashed in a final at a major was the 2009 Australian Open. This was the twenty-fifth meeting between Nadal and Federer, their fifth at Roland Garros and their fourth final.

In 2008, Nadal blew Federer off the court 6-1,6-3,6-0. After ending Novak Djokovic’s 2011 unbeaten run at 41 matches, Federer came in rejuvenated and relaxed, it was evident in the first set.

Subsequent to guarding serve, on a backhand error by Nadal, Federer had double break point. Despite Nadal getting to deuce, on his fourth opportunity, Federer seized the break and consolidated for 3-0.

After constructing a 5-2 advantage, as Nadal’s forehand sailed long, Federer had set point. However, with the dropshot missing its mark, Nadal was at deuce and later captured the game.

Serving for the initial set, Federer’s first serve which was instrumental in building his lead deserted him. Federer netted a backhand to hand Nadal break point. When the Swiss misfired on a volley after a passing shot, the players were back on serve.

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Roger Federer Holds Press Conference at Sony Ericsson Open

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Roger Federer Holds Press Conference at Sony Ericsson Open



Two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion Roger Federer held his first press conference today at the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open. Here is what he had to say to the media.
 
​Q.  What is it that you love about playing tennis?  Simple question.

​ROGER FEDERER:  I guess, you know, it’s myself to blame if I win or lose, which I kind of like, and that it’s one on one, or if you like, in doubles two or two. ​But there’s a distance, so there is always a lot of fair play.  There’s no ugly plays in that way.  Good sport to watch on TV; good sport to watch live.  It’s atheltical and has a bit of everything.  I think it’s really nice.
 
​Q.  How are you finding the transition from one court to the next?

​ROGER FEDERER:  Well, it’s still hard court, so should be all right.  It’s a bit more humid here.  It hasn’t been brutal, so it’s been all right.  It was nice and warm as well in Indian Wells, so it’s been okay. Obviously I’ve played a lot of tennis, so maybe just I’m a touch tired, but I’m happy I still have a few more days.  So there’s no issue there. ​I practiced yesterday and today here and I feel fine, you know.  There’s not much to say really yet.  Conditions are obviously slightly different, adjusting, you know, string tensions, just understanding how far the ball flies, how it bounces, and all those things. ​That’s why I just need a couple more practice sessions and I’ll be okay.
 
​Q.  A few weeks ago Andre Agassi said of Andy Roddick, if it weren’t for you, that he would have had a tremendous career.  Do you take a little bit of joy in knowing you’ve knocked Andy out of sort of that major block?  What do you see in him down the road?

​ROGER FEDERER:  No, I’m not happy at all.  I think he’s done actually really well.  I mean, he achieved all his dreams basically  you know, except maybe winning Wimbledon  but he was in many great matches in finals there, which he can always look back on. ​I think that was very nice, as well.  Clearly he’d like to win those, but not everybody can say they’ve been in multiple Wimbledon finals, you know.  He’s won the US Open, was world No. 1, won Davis Cup. ​How much more do you really need to be happy as a tennis player?  So I think he’s actually  considering that everybody always is so negative around him, you know, especially in terms of the press, I think he knows what he achieved.  The players know it, too, and that’s why he’s so respected. ​His career is not over yet.  There are still things to achieve out there.  I’ve always enjoyed my matches with him. And, no, I don’t feel happy that I did any  I had a part in maybe making his career worse or better or whatever, you know.  Who knows, if I wasn’t around maybe somebody else would have been around, you know.  So you never know.
 
​Q.  As you know, there was earthquake disaster in Japan.  If you don’t mind, could you leave a message for the Japanese people.

​ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, it’s been very sad news, of course.  I’ve followed, you know, what happened in Japan, and it was devastating, you know, to say the least. ​It’s always one of those natural disasters, that really, you know, touch everybody, to see those terrible pictures.  And then obviously thinking of my good times in Tokyo when I was there and good times I had, which I really enjoyed, you know, obviously the fans I have in that part of the world  or in Japan in particular, you know. ​I can only tell them that I’m thinking of them as well and that I wish them only the best and that they can rebuild and get stronger out of how it was before, because it’s not an easy situation right now.
 
​Q.  Kim Clijsters said yesterday that she wouldn’t go to Asia because of the radiation; she wouldn’t take her kids, et cetera.  Does that sound like anything that you would consider?

​ROGER FEDERER:  Um, I haven’t even thought about it yet because I’m not going to Asia, you know, in the next couple weeks.
 
​Q.  She said Shanghai.  She said no China.  No Japan.

​ROGER FEDERER:  Really?  No, it hasn’t even crossed my mind yet.  I will only think about that when the situation is right in front of me.  But we’ll get the green light or not from someone else, you know. ​At the end of the day you always have to take your own decision, but I don’t think it’s gonna be a problem by then, to be honest.
 
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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title

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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title




Coming into this year’s Australian Open championships, most analysts tagged Kim Clijsters as the outright favorite.  Today, the Belgian demonstrated that they were correct in pegging her as the one to beat.  Clijsters fought off China’s Li Na 3-6,6-3,6-3 to claim her first major in Melbourne, the fourth of her career.

Subsequent to a love hold, Clijsters broke Li at love thanks to a net court winner and took a 2-0 lead in the opening set.  However, with Clijsters donating four straight errors after having game point, Li erased the advantage.  Later, serving at 2-3, Li overcame a 15-40 deficit to reach deuce.  Despite resistance from Clijsters, Li equalized the set at 3 all.  With Clijsters flubbing a forehand volley, Li arrived at double break point.  She capitalized and obtained a 4-3 edge when Clijsters dumped a backhand crosscourt into the  net.  After staving off a break point, Li consolidated for 5-3 and with a forehand crosscourt pass winner broke Clijsters for the third time to secure the set.

Clijsters was acutely aware that Li would not be an easy put away.  In the semifinals, Li salvaged a match point before upsetting world number one Caroline Wozniacki to become the first Chinese female to book a spot in the final at a major.  Moreover, just two weeks ago in Sydney, Li defeated Clijsters in the final.   More importantly, although this was Li’s initial major final, she was doing a great job at bottling her nerves.

In spite of two game points at the start of the second set, Li failed to maintain serve, double faulting to hand Clijsters the first game.  Yet, like in the previous set, on her second break point opportunity, Li provoked a backhand mistake from Clijsters to get back on serve.  Still, the very next game, with a crosscourt winner, Clijsters broke for a 2-1 lead.  Relentless, on her fourth break point, Li struck a forehand crosscourt winner to level the set at 2 all.  Then, Li obliterated double break point to hold serve for 3-2.  But Clijsters would not be denied.  Following a tough service game, Clijsters again was at double break point.  This time with a backhand down the line winner, the Belgian broke for 4-3 and ultimately consolidated.  Next, with Li gifting a few errors, Clijsters closed the set with another break of serve.

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010


No room for dispute, 2010 was a banner year for Rafael Nadal.  The Spaniard captured three majors, regained the world number one ranking and completed the career grand slam.  As such, Nadal’s domination left no ambiguity as to who was the most outstanding player in 2010.  With the year at a close, here’s a snapshot of the stories which caught the headlines this foregone season.

After a slow start, Nadal found his footing on clay with his first calendar title at the Monte-Carlo Masters.  Subsequent to banking titles at the Masters in Rome and Madrid, Nadal culminated his clay campaign with his fifth big prize at Roland Garros.  At Wimbledon, the Spaniard defended his 2008 title to seize his second major at the All England Club.  Finally, at U.S. Open, with troublesome obstacles removed from his half of the draw,  Nadal reached his first final in New York.  Nadal stared down a strong challenge from Novak Djokovic to hoist his first U.S. Open trophy.  With a total of seven titles, Nadal topped his peers in 2010.

For Roger Federer, this year was a mixed bag.  After grabbing his sixteenth major in Australia, Federer had a fourth round loss at the Sony Ericsson Open to Tomas Berdych which sent him into a tailspin.  As defending champion at the French Open, Federer was beaten in the quarterfinals by Robin Soderling which ended an unprecedented streak of twenty-three consecutive semifinals at the majors.  Furthermore, defending champ Federer was ousted in the quarterfinals by Berdych at Wimbledon.  In fact, Federer’s ranking dropped to number three, his lowest since November 2003.  Yet, with his second title of the season at the Cincinnati Masters, Federer seemed again on the right road.  However, Federer failed to take advantage of match points in the U.S. Open semifinals against Djokovic and went down in flames.  After the New York fiasco, Federer resurfaced with a fresh coach, Paul Annacone, and won three of four finals including the ATP World Tour finals where he toppled Nadal.

The Australian Open appeared a turning point for Andy Murray.  Easily handled in the final by Federer, Murray could do nothing right with the racket for a while. Eventually at Wimbledon, Murray advanced to the semifinals only to be disappointed by Nadal.  With the defense of his title at the Rogers Cup, Murray seemed to be back.  But, another setback occurred at the U.S. Open where Murray was stunned in the third round by Stanislas Wawrinka.  In besting Federer in the Shanghai Masters final, Murray looked to be heading for a strong finish.  Yet, at the ATP World Tour Finals, Murray took another  downturn.  This was emblematic of the Scot’s tumultuous year which included a rupture with coach Miles Maclagan, a brief ceding of the world number four spot to Soderling and only two titles.

With solely two titles and a U.S. Open final appearance, Djokovic had a so-so year.  The Serb even ascended to number two for a bit, but finished at number three.  While individual success was sparse, Djokovic led his country to its first Davis Cup title.  Along with countryman Viktor Troicki, Djokovic mounted a brilliant comeback to stop France from a tenth trophy.

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A Tale of Two Seasons:  Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes

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A Tale of Two Seasons: Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes


Although the familiar saying states “all good things must come to an end”, when it comes to tennis it’s not necessarily the case.  While the 2010 season is over, in the blink of an eye the new one will commence.  Before turning to a fresh chapter, it’s important to reminisce and ponder what made this past year noteworthy.

At her first tournament after rejoining the tour, Justine Henin was a finalist in Brisbane.  The Belgian followed that result with a run to the final at the Australian Open.  In a compelling match, Serena Williams edged out Henin to defend her title and claimed her twelfth career major.  Despite Williams’ conquest, the road to victory was far from routine.  Thus, early indications were Williams would be fighting tooth and nail to retain the number one ranking.  Yet, in the end, injury became Serena’s speed bump rather than her fellow competitors.

Following Australia, a knee injury caused Williams to put her feet up for a few months.  In May, a healthy Serena returned to competition.  Subsequent to being stunned in the French Open quarterfinals, Williams successfully defended her Wimbledon title.  However, days after her triumph, Serena suffered a freakish foot injury.  Initially, the damage seemed inconsequential.  But, as the weeks went by, Serena withdrew from tournament after tournament and underwent surgery.  Ultimately, Wimbledon proved to be Serena’s last event of 2010.

Ironically, Serena’s similar fate befell Henin.  After being booted in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, Henin turned her focus to Wimbledon the underlying reason for her comeback.  With a title at a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Henin was a serious contender to capture the sole major which has eluded her. But, after easily carrying the first set against Kim Clijsters, Henin fell on her elbow and eventually loss in the round of 16.  What at first seemed an innocuous tumble prematurely terminated Henin’s year.

After being upended in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open by Na Li, Venus Williams caught a full head of steam and defended back to back titles in Dubai and Acapulco.  Then, Venus made the finals at the Sony Ericsson Open and the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.  Consequently, Venus’ ranking peaked at number two.  Days after celebrating her 30th birthday,  the five time Wimbledon champion stepped on the grass with high hopes for a sixth crown.  However, in the quarterfinals, Venus was sent packing by Tsvetana Pironkova.  Later at the U.S. Open, Williams watched an opportunity to advance to the final evaporate, going down to Clijsters.  Bothered by a knee issue, after New York, Venus sat out the remainder of the season.

No ifs and or buts, Clijsters is back.  After besting Henin in the Brisbane final, Clijsters rebounded from an early exit at the Australian Open by thrashing Venus in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Although a foot injury prevented Clijsters from participating at the French Open, the following month the Belgian reached the semifinals at Wimbledon.  Subsequent to a sensational win in the final in Cincinnati, Clijsters repeated in New York and earned her third U.S. Open title.  Clijsters capped the year with the number three ranking and the WTA Championships trophy in Doha.

In placing one’s bet at the start of 2010, Maria Sharapova, Henin and Clijsters would have been regarded as the candidates likely to supplant Serena at number one.  Instead, Williams was toppled from that spot by a great Dane.  Last year, as a runner-up at the U.S. Open, Caroline Wozniacki demonstrated that she is a legitimate rival.  With Serena sidelined by injury, Wozniacki scaled up the ranking by winning six tour titles and making the finals in Indian Wells and Doha.

Despite being halted in the round of 16 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at the French Open and the semifinals at the U.S. Open, consistency week in and week out was the key to Wozniacki taking over at number one.

Another individual who had a spring in her step in 2010 is Vera Zvonareva. The Russian followed her first major final at Wimbledon with another at the U.S. Open.  Although Zvonareva fell to Serena and Clijsters respectively, because of her phenomenal performance, Zvonareva shot up to the number two ranking.

Other names to come into the spotlight this season include twenty year old Petra Kvitova who stunned Victoria Azarenka and Wozniacki before being knocked out in the Wimbledon semifinals by Serena.  Along with Li, countrywoman Jie Zheng advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open.  Perhaps the unlikeliest ones to rise above the fray were veterans Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur.

After beating Henin, Serena and Jelena Jankovic at the French Open, 26 year old Stosur booked her maiden major final spot.  With a victory over Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Schiavone sauntered into the French Open final as a result of Elena Dementieva retiring in the semifinals with a calf injury.  First time major finalist Schiavone took full advantage of her good fortune.  Less than a month prior to her 30th birthday, Schiavone prevailed over Stosur becoming the first Italian woman to win a major.

In doubles, Serena and Venus triumphed in the finals at the Australian and French Opens while Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were claimed by the new pair of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.  The number one doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber had an acrimonious divorce in April.  With the break up of Huber and Black and injuries affecting the Williams’, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko with six titles and the WTA Championships trophy ended the year as the top doubles team.

For the second consecutive year, Italy dismissed the U.S. to take the Federation Cup. Former French Open champion and world number one Ana Ivanovic redeemed her season by pocketing the Tournament of Champions trophy in Bali and reintegrating herself in the top twenty.  Nothing but bad news for former world number one Dinara Safina.  Limited by a back problem, Safina hardly played and finished the year ranked 63rd.

At the WTA championships, Dementieva dropped a bomb announcing her retirement after her last round robin match.  The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and two time major finalist felt at 29 years of age the time had arrived to seal this phase of her life and move on to another.

It is impossible to dissociate 2010 from 2011 with injury already a factor in the year to come.  With her foot still on the mend, Serena proclaimed she will not defend her Australian Open title.  As such, the first major of the year will be up for grabs.  Will Clijsters seize her first major other than the U.S. Open?  Can Wozniacki silence all doubters and show she really belongs at the top spot?  Will Zvonareva draw on the positives from 2010 and take the final step to the major’s winner circle?  Will it be Sharapova or Henin reliving their past success down under?  In contemplating the outcome of the Australian Open, the permutations seem infinite.  With all these questions, the first major portends that the upcoming season will be a fascinating one to follow.

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Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites

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Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites


The U.S. Open draw has been unveiled with the usual suspects at the top pack.  Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the highest seeds followed respectively by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.  For some, the path has multiple green lights, but for others it is lined with yellow flags.  Here’s a breakdown of the draw.

After his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon, Nadal is once more in pursuit of the U.S. Open trophy, the sole major he lacks.  In 2008, the Spaniard was halted in the semifinals by Murray and last year in the same round by Juan Martin Del Potro, the champion.  Although Nadal has been the most prolific performer on grass and clay this season, hardcourt has been a different story.  Nadal has a lone final appearance in January in Doha and went down to Nikolay Davydenko.  With neither injury nor fatigue an issue this time, Nadal is capable of going the distance.  However, there may be a significant boulder in his way in the quarterfinals.

Finally in shape after hip surgery, David Nalbandian has made himself part of the conversation and could clash with Nadal in the quarterfinals.  Although Nadal recorded the win at their last meeting at the Sony Ericsson Open in March, Nalbandian’s form has improved markedly since then.  Moreover, Nalbandian took the title as a wildcard at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic earlier this month.  As a result, the Argentine will not be an easy customer for the Spaniard.

While Fernando Verdasco, the eight seed, is technically another likely quarterfinal counterpart for Nadal, Verdasco is at best a minute obstacle.  With a 10-0 record against his countryman, in a five set match, Nadal is a sure bet.

De novo, Nadal has been placed on a collision course with Murray to reach his first U.S. Open final.  Twice on hardcourt this year, Murray has comprehensively beaten Nadal including the Rogers Cup two weeks ago.  After dreadful results most of the season, Murray is at last in form and defended his title in Toronto.  If they clash in the semifinals, Nadal will have a tough time getting a pass.

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