ATP World Tour: Men’s Semi-Finals Preview

ATP: Men's Semi-Finals - Masters 1000 Series

Our tennis writer previews the ATP World Tour, Masters 1000 Series at the Cincinnati Open. 

There’s a famous Bob Dylan song that springs to mind when you consider this week’s semi-final line-up in Cincinnati: the times, they are a changing. Clearly, there’s the injury absence of Djokovc, Cilic, Wawrinka and Murray to consider, with Roger pulling out at the last moment. But for Rafa to fall in rather ignominious fashion to the petulant talent that is Nick Kyrgios.

Tennis seems to have finally caught up to some extent to those seemingly untouchable top 4 and that can only be good for the future success of the men’s game. Having said that, Spanish veteran David Ferrer is representing the old brigade in a semi-final lineup with many tantalizing subplots.

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ATP Masters 1000 Series | Cincinnati Open | Men’s Semi-Finals | 19 August 2017

Nick Kyrgios (4/10) | David Ferrer (19/10)
Could you possibly have a more stark contrast in players, both stylistically and in demeanor? Kyrgios and Ferrer both operate primarily off the baseline, but it’s the Aussie who likes to contract the points and let his awesome power on both sides tell. Ferrer, ever the clay-court masochist, is willing to indulge in protracted rallies, maneuvering his foe from one side of the court to the other in almost callous fashion. He is also an exemplar of competitive spirit, whereas Kyrgios occasionally wades in and out of matches with the casual indifference of an aristocrat.

The 35-year-old Ferrer has already tasted victory this season, and his performance against Thiem in the quarter-finals was nothing short of brilliant. I can’t remember seeing the Spaniard play that well in ages, with a straight sets victory that only comprised 12 unforced errors. He will need to draw on all his experience should the ‘real’ Kyrgios show up. The Aussie is such a mercurial figure, it’s almost impossible to fully vie for him. But when he gets a sniff, he usually applies himself more fervently: just think of that agonizing semi-final defeat to Roger Federer in Miami.

Their head to head record gives us little to draw on, with Ferrer winning their one and only match in 2013. Kyrgios has all the weapons to beat Ferrer. He has the stronger serve and can hit winners from all angles. But Ferrer is just the sort of metronomic player who could frustrate the Aussie. The depth and vigor of Ferrer’s baseline play on Friday was truly astonishing and I have to take him at this price. His mental clarity and experience in these types of situations could see him through to another Masters 1000 final.

Verdict: Ferrer Win (19/10)

John Isner (11/10) | Grigor Dimitrov (7/10)
Unfortunately dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ for some time now, Bulgarian Dimitrov has battled to consistently maintain the charge for the top that many have foreseen in his armor. He managed to absolutely decimate Yuichi Sugita in a quarter-final that lasted all of 15 games. The Bulgarian has looked more consistent this week, with that backhand side working well. Dimitrov is always a threat when his single-handed backhand is on song. He should fancy Isner in that sense, with the American unlikely to employ a huge amount of topspin, allowing Dimitrov to flatten out the backhand side.

John Isner has been incredibly consistent on the familiar American hard courts. He has already won the Atlanta open and overcame a spirited performance by compatriot Jared Donaldson to win his quarter-final. Isner’s characteristically booming serve has been immaculate, and the Amercian will be hoping to make it his fifth final of the year. Of huge consequence is the fact that Isner has won eight out of his last nine hard court matches, and all 4 of his finals have been in America this year.

These two have only met once, with Isner overcoming the Bulgarian in the 2015 Miami Masters. It’s rather strange that the two haven’t met more often. But generally, I feel that the American should be able to exploit these fast conditions and have too much firepower for ‘Baby Fed’. Isner is building up some real momentum in his quest to mount a concerted charge at the US Open title.

Verdict: Isner Win (11/10)

Written by Damien Kayat for

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