ATP Tour: WInston-Salem Open Semi-Finals Preview

Tennis Player hits ball

Damien Kayat previews the semi-finals of the ATP's Winston-Salem Open taking place on Saturday 25 August. 

Steve Johnson 1/1 | Pablo Carreno Busta 15/20
It’s been yet again another year of thirst or famine for American Steve Johnson on the ATP Tour. Johnson’s best performances have characteristically come in his home nation and he will be hoping to further entrench his status as a home-ground bully this week. His year started in fairly innocuous fashion until a semi-final run at Delray Beach further underlined his status at home. He would then reach the semi-final in a Challenger event in Irving before yet another brilliant showing in Houston. He won that event before a semi-final run on the clay of Geneva. He would demonstrate his all-court abilities with another victory on the grass courts at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. His US hardcourt season had been disastrous up until this point, with three consecutive losses leading up to this event. But he is yet to drop a set thus far, including a crushing victory over Kyle Edmund in the quarters.

Just to give you some impression of Carreno Busta’s consistency this season, he has managed to reach three semi-finals on top of four quarter-finals. He hasn’t perhaps quite managed to fulfil the potential suggested by that semi-final run at Flushing Meadows last year, but there have been signs of encouragement of late for the Spaniard. Started the year with a decent run to the final 16 in Melbourne, it was on the American hardcourts in Miami that he enjoyed his best moment of the year. He beat the likes of Anderson and Verdasco en route to a brilliant semi-final finish. He had a decent clay-season- highlighted by that quarterfinal in Rome- while his hardcourt season is building up a decent head of steam. He reached the quarters in Cincinnati last week while he has looked impressive this week. He beat the indefatigable Chung in straight sets last time out, making this clash a real conundrum.

Carreno-Busta leads the head-to-head 2-1. That head-to-head importantly includes a victory this season on the Miami hardcourts. So it would seem that Carreno Busta is the nominal favorite. I just have a feeling that the American has a real chance after that demolition of Kyle Edmund in the quarters. He is yet to drop a set and could be a dark horse to win this title. 

Danil Medvedev 9/20 | Taro Daniel 16/10
It seems as if I have been writing extensively about the exploits of Danil Medvedev of late. He has surprised all- myself included- with this run to the semi-finals. Taken hand in hand with a run to the Round of 16 in Canada and Medvedev can be fairly well pleased with his exertions on the hardcourts thus far. It is clear from his title in Sydney and subsequent successes in the early hardcourt season that he has a huge preference for the faster surfaces. He reached the quarters in Rotterdam after an arduous qualifying campaign while his run to the final 32 in Indian Wells contained glimpses of his ability. I think it’s safe to fully discount what was a mildly disastrous clay-court season.

American-born Taro Daniel is a Japanese player who currently resides in Spain. That’s quite a lot to digest. It’s been something of a breakthrough season for the 25 year-old Daniel. He has largely been unable to breakthrough into the upper echelons over the course of the last few years. This season he won his first ATP Title in Istanbul. His most impressive showing was likely still Indian Wells. He came through a hectic qualifying campaign to reach the main draw, where he would go on to beat the likes of Cameron Norrie and Novak Djokovic. He lost a Challenger final in Poznan and recently picked up back-to-back quarterfinals in Switzerland and Austria.

This will actually be the second time that these two have met. Medvedev won their only encounter with a comprehensive straight sets victory in Bordeaux in 2016. While there’s a part of me that would love to be brave and back the little guy, there have been far too many encouraging signs from the racquet of Medvedev to avoid. Medvedev to win in straight sets at 23/20 could be worth your while. 

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