US Open: Men's Quarter-Finals Preview

Tennis Player Holds Racquet

Our tennis guru takes a closer look at the men's quarter-finals at the US Open with games set to start on Tuesday 5 September. 

So the quarterfinals have been decided, with 2 starkly different propositions in terms of the draw. The eagerly awaited fairy-tale semi-final between Rafa and Roger is still a go in the top half, with former champion Del Potro and wunderkind Andrey Rublev hoping to disappoint an entire tennis community. And in the 2nd half of the draw you have a litany of upsets, with Andy Murray’s late omission always likely to create a lob-sided draw.

Diego Schwartzmann takes on Pablo Carreno-Busta while Kevin Anderson takes on Sam Querrey in a big-serving bonanza. Schwartzmann has defied the sceptics- giving his height- while Rubelv looks to become the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since a certain Rafa Nadal in the 2005 French Open.

2017 US Open | Men’s QFs| Tuesday 5 September - Wednesday 6 September | Flushing Meadows

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Roger Federer 2/11 | Juan Martin Del Potro 36/10
I would never have guessed that it would have been a repeat of that 2009 final at around 1:00 AM, that’s for sure. How on earth Del Potro managed to pull that one out against Thiem is a mystery that I’m sure I will never solve. One thing is for sure: New York loves Del Potro. As much as they love the pageantry of a possible Nadal-Federer semi-final, they simply love Del Potro. His easy, casual manner is such a tonic to the typically self-serious, professional tennis player.

Roger was in no mood to suffer fools in a demolition of Phillip Kohlschriber that extended his head-to-head dominance of the German to 12-0. Federer will clearly still have some demons to deal with after that 2009 turnaround, but he still leads Del Potro 16-5 in their head-to-head. Furthermore, Federer easily overcame the Argentine in their last meeting, winning in straight sets on the Miami hardcourts. Having said all that, Del Potro is still a dangerous opponent with the type of power game that will challenge any player on his day.

Verdict: Roger has to be fancied here, especially with the physical strain that this would have put on a player who is still essentially returning from a long period of dormancy. 

Rafael Nadal 1/14 | Andrey Rublev 6/1
Andrey Rublev has become the youngest man to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2001. The 19-year old Russian prodigy absolutely trounced 9th seed David Goffin. Admittedly though, the Belgian number 1 was visibly ailing as the match progressed. And his reward? A quarter-final meeting with World Number One and 2 time US Open Champion: Rafael Nadal. So it’s hardly going to get easier for a man appearing in his first Grand Slam Quarterfinal.

Nadal was utterly ruthless against a slightly hapless Dolgopalov. It was one of those slightly embarrassing affairs that the notoriously ruthless Nadal is capable of. So the odds are clearly hugely stacked against the young Russian. But he could draw a lot of hope from the fact that he is an unknown quantity to Nadal. The last monumental loss in the year for Nadal came at the hands of Shapovalov in Montreal. It was also the first time he had played the Canadian. And Rublev’s game is similarly based on strength and bountiful enthusiasm. Since winning his first title as a lucky loser in Umag, Rublev has won 13 out of 17 matches, meaning he won’t be short on confidence here.

Verdict: Clearly Rafa is a huge favourite, but there may be enough gamble in me to suggest backing the young Russian at that price. As he said in his 4th Round, post-match interview, he has nothing to lose. So Rafa should win, but 13/2 looks solid for a relatively unknown quantity in Rublev. 

Kevin Anderson 11/10 | Sam Querrey 7/10 
Kevin Anderson has been my dark horse from the off, and I’m still confident that the South African serving machine can pull of something remarkable at this year’s event. He dropped a set- and indeed his serve- for the first time in the tournament against Lorenzi, but I’ve been really impressed with the consistency of his serve and the intensity of returns when they have really mattered. He certainly isn’t in the Ivo Karlovic ‘smash and dash’ service style that hinges on big first serves and little else. His opponent is in many ways an American replicate of him, a strong server with deceptive baseline abilities: Sam Querrey.

Querrey’s brilliant run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon has certainly been a hard act to follow for the journeyman American to follow. He did pick up a victory in Los Cabos, but generally his hardcourt season has been beset by inconsistency and struggles for fitness. Funnily enough, these two actually played doubles together at Houston earlier this year. Querrey leads the series 8-6, while their hardcourt head-to-head stats read 5-5. Perhaps more telling is the comfortable straight sets victory that Anderson enjoyed in Montreal.

Verdict: Anderson to win at 23/20. My feelings haven’t changed in the slightest and I foresee a victory for the South African, who has just radiated quiet confidence the entire week. 

Pablo Carreno-Busta 4/10 | Diego Schwartzmann 7/4
This will be the first meeting between these two, both first-timers in the round of 8 section. They have both certainly benefited from Andy Murray’s late withdrawal, which has effectively created a top heavy draw. Carreno-Busta has looked impressive though. He beat Denis Shapovalov in perhaps the tightest straight sets victory you are likely to see: 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. The Spaniard seems to have been able to successfully transpose his stereotypically strong clay-court abilities onto the American hardcourts. He serves accurately and haunts the baseline in characteristically European fashion.

Schwartzmann has become the shortest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since Jamie Yzhang reached the last 9 of the 1994 French Open: and I’m talking about odds I think, however, that the Argentine has been dealt something of a cheap ride thus far. Cilic clearly hadn’t overcome the injuries that afflicted him in that Wimbledon final, while Lucas Pouille- his 4th round victim- has been in horrible form of late. I just cannot see how the Argentine will be able to cope with the consistent barrage that emanates from Busta’s racquet.

Verdict: While it may be tempting to take a swipe at the Argentine at that price, I can’t see the diminutive baseliner overcoming a man yet to drop a set this tournament. Carreno-Busta to win at 9/20. 

Written by Damien Kayat for

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