Nick's Picks will be breaking down the Sony Ericsson Open everyday! Follow along for predictions, picks, and insight into the tournament on the blog and on TennisWeek.com.
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Tsonga needed three sets to get by fellow Frenchman, Gilles Simon, in the fourth round. He saved all five break points against his serve, while breaking Simon three times. This is only his second time playing the Sony Ericsson Open and this is his best showing. He has already won two titles in 2009 (Marseille and Johannesburg) and I am sure he would like to add this one to his trophy case.
Djokovic didn't need long to beat Tomas Berdych, taking him out in just over an hour and 12 minutes. He broke him five times and won 63% of the points on Berdych's second serve. So far in the two big tournament in 2009 (Australian Open and Indian Wells), Djokovic has yet to get past the quarterfinals.
Tsonga is 4-1 against Djokovic, and has beaten the Serbian the last four times they have played (including once this year). The only time Djokovic won was in the finals of the 2008 Australian Open. This is going to be one heck of a match, because both of these men are crowd favorites. Tsonga is a big boy with incredible strength and he has really calmed down on the court. He has all the talent in the world and is finally playing consistent tennis week in and week out.
You know that Djokovic can do a little bit of everything. He moves exceptionally well, has a monster serve and both of his groundstrokes are superb. This is a tough match to call. On paper, you would think he is the favorite, but I just think Tsonga is so dangerous and with his experience and track record against Djokovic I have to give him a slight edge. Djokovic has got to get this match over quickly because the longer it goes the more it favors Tsonga.
Nick's Pick - Tsonga in 3 sets
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
Roddick was down a break in the first set against Monfils with the Frenchman serving, but was able to hang on and break back to even the first set and eventually win the match in two. He is looking to claim his second title of 2009, adding to the one he won already in Memphis back in February.
Federer defeated the resurgent Taylor Dent to reach the quarterfinals in Miami for the seventh time in his career. He last won this title back in 2006 and you know he wants to get back on that stage to have a chance at winning it again!
Federer is 16-2 against Roddick and beat him earlier this year in the semifinals of the Australian Open. However, Roddick upended Federer in the quarterfinals in Miami last year for one of his two victories against the Swiss star. This is going to be a big match for Roddick, because if he wins it would be a huge lift for American tennis. To me, this match boils down to one thing: Roddick's serve. If he has a so-so serving day then he has no chance at defeating Federer but if he has a huge serving day then he could find himself with a chance. Without a doubt, the edge goes to Federer, but don't count Roddick out if his serve is on. Roddick will have to beat Federer in two, because the longer this match goes the more it favors the Fed.
Nick's Pick - Federer in 3 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Nadal got a stiff test from Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round, but many players would have a tough time duplicating what Wawrinka did. Every time I watch Nadal, I'm even more impressed by his focus, discipline, and confidence. He reminds me of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods with his ability to come through in the clutch!
Del Potro comes into the tournament ranked #7 in the world and having won the title in Auckland earlier this year. Thus far in 2009, he has been to the quarters of every single tournament he's played. Talk about consistency!
Nadal is 4-0 against Del Potro, including a win over him last week at Indian Wells. The thing that many people don't realize about Nadal is that he has one of, if not, the best support team in all of tennis. His Uncle Toni and the rest of the team know just how to get the absolute best out of him, and I fully believe that without this team in place Nadal wouldn't be where he is today.
Del Potro is going to have to have one of the best serving days of his life to beat Nadal right now. He will have to gamble all the time, going for winners and big shots. With Nadal's improved serve, his excellent return of serve, and his unbelievable movement and groundstrokes, how can I bet against him?? This will be a fun match to watch, but in the end its going to be Nadal.
Nick's Pick - Nadal in 2 sets