Damien Kayat previews selected men's and women's US Open matches coming your way on 7 September 2021.
2021 WTA-ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
US Open Tennis
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre
Selected Round of 16 Matches and Quarterfinals- 7th September
4th Round Matches
Novak Djokovic 1/50 | Jensen Brooksby 12/1
Is there anything that can stop Novak Djokovic’s seemingly inevitable calendar Grand Slam? His four-set victory over the pugnacious Kei Nishikori took his 2021 Grand Slam record to 24-0. He hasn’t exactly looked vintage this year. But that’s almost a part of his master plan. He flatters to deceive in early rounds, then steadily picks up momentum when it matters. Jensen Brooksby has set this year’s US Open alight with his unconventional style and never-say-die attitude. He looked down-and-out against Aslam Karatsev, apparently mouthing to his coach that he couldn’t move due to a hip injury. But to the delight of the US crowd, he managed to dig deep and take down Karatsev in five gruelling sets.
Verdict: Djokovic in straight sets at 27/100- I actually think that Brooksby is the type of player who could trouble Djokovic in ideal circumstances. He forces his opponent to dictate the pace and would have denied Djokovic easy counterpunching possibilities. But ultimately that marathon match against Karatsev and a lingering injury cloud should offer the Serb an easy ride into the quarterfinals.
Bianca Andreescu 5/4 | Maria Sakkari 61/100
Andreescu made a little bit of history after destroying Greet Minnen in their 3rd round match. She joined Monica Seles and Evonne Goolagong Cawley by winning her first 10 consecutive US Open matches. Andreescu couldn’t defend her 2019 title last season due to injury. She clearly has a huge affinity for this arena. Since losing in the Miami Final earlier this year she has been pretty abject (she lost in the opening round of Roland Garros and Wimbledon). Her next opponent will be the hard-hitting Greek Maria Sakkari. Sakkari has looked sensational this week and she went up another level against Petra Kvitova. She won an incredible 90% of her points behind that first serve.
Verdict: Sakkari to win at 61/100- Andreescu did win their only previous match in a thrilling three-set affair in Miami earlier this year. This should be yet another classic dogfight between two supreme fighters. Much will depend on first-serve percentages in this match (Sakkari and Andreescu can both be devastating on serve). But I think that the Greek has better footwork and will retrieve more than the Canadian in the end.
Botic van de Zandschulp 12/1 | Danil Medvedev 1/50
This is a match-up between the totally expected and completely insane. 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev is surely the biggest threat to Djokovic’s 2021 Grand Slam hegemony. He has won three titles this year and is 15-2 in his last 17 matches. He was exemplary against Dan Evans, hitting 43 winners and just 20 unforced errors in arguably the most intimidating performances of the tournament. By stark contrast, the unheralded van de Zandschulp has completely crashed the party this year. He’s just the 3rd man (following Escude in 98 and Muller in 08) to reach the 4th round here as a qualifier. But he’s really enjoyed a dream draw. The two seeded players he has defeated- Casper Rudd and Diego Schwartzman- are avowed clay-curt enthusiasts. I don’t see how he can possibly translate that form against a hardcourt monster like Medvedev.
Verdict: Medvedev in straight sets at 29/100- Look, I could try and dress this up into a more appealing package. Maybe Medvedev in four because they have never met. But this is about as nailed on as you get for a straight-sets victory.
Leylah Fernandez 37/50 | Elina Svitolina 41/100
Hasn’t Fernandez been a breath of fresh air this year? Not to diminish Osaka’s mental issues, but it has been refreshing to see unbridled joy in the women’s draw? She has now beaten two former champions in consecutive matches (Osaka and Kerber). In both matches she dropped the first set and trailed in the 2nd. She seems to thrive under pressure and doesn’t mind involving the crowd. She has captured a spirit that has at times been absent at this year’s event. And then you have Elina Svitolina, a player I have often criticized for lacking true big-match temperament. But she has looked extremely composed this year, defeating old enemy Simona Halep with ease in their round of 16 match. The eight-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist will be looking to make her 3rd Grand Slam semi-final and 2nd in New York. This year’s chaotic Slam could be the perfect opportunity for her to land her maiden Slam.
Verdict: Fernandez to win at37/20- Wow, this one has me torn. Svitolina won their one and only previous encounter at Monterrey last year. Interestingly enough, Fernandez would go on to actually win the Monterrey title this season. I know that Svitolina has looked confident this year and perhaps ready to step up to the Grand Slam mantle. But this is generally around the time when those self-doubts creep in. And I think that lefty Fernandez will enjoy the lion’s share of the support this week. This could prove a vital psychological edge in this encounter. Expect a cauldron of fiery Fernandez support. It’s almost as if all the goodwill generated for Osaka this year was transferred to Fernandez in that 3rd round match.