Nick's Picks is back for the US Open and we are in New York City for the entire tournament to provide live coverage! Once again, we've partnered with Tennis Week for even more coverage and you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr!
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Federer looked great in the first two sets against Robin Soderling, then the Swede stepped up his game forcing a fourth set. Federer won that in a tiebreaker before things got extremely interesting. This is his 22nd straight appearance in the semis of a Grand Slam, which is simply unthinkable. That stat more than any other exemplifies just how dominant Federer has been over the last five or six years.
Djokovic earned a four-set win over Fernando Verdasco in the quarters and is in the semis for the third straight year at the US Open. Amazingly, this is the first time in 2009 that Djokovic has reached the semis of a Grand Slam. Djokovic hasn't played his best tennis at this year's US Open, but he has played well enough to win and that is all that counts. He will definitely have to play his best to take down Federer.
Federer and Djokovic have met 12 times previously with Federer holding an 8-4 advantage. Three of those matches have come this year, and Djokovic is 2-1 in those, but Federer hasn't beaten him in the last two US Opens. I was very impressed by the stamina of Djokovic in his last match against Verdasco. The knock on Djokovic has always been his conditioning, and against Verdasco that didn't affect him at all. Djokovic has every shot in his repertoire, he is playing with less frustration, and with Todd Martin in his corner he seems extremely confident. Having said all that, how can I pick against Federer? He comes up with all the big points when he needs them, he is attacking more, and he is in full control of himself. I see Djokovic winning a set and making this interesting, but I have to go with Federer.
Nick's Pick - Federer in 4 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
It took a while, but Nadal was eventually able to put Fernando Gonzalez away in three sets. He doesn't have much time to think about it though as he has to take the court again on Sunday to play Del Potro. Nadal has already regained the #2 ranking in the world, and he still has a chance to get to #1 if he wins this tournament. I am sure Nadal would love nothing more than to show everyone that he is still one of, if not, the best players in the world.
Del Potro lost the first set to Cilic, but then bounced back right away to win in four sets. This is Del Potro's second appearance in the semis of a Grand Slam, with the first coming earlier this year at the French Open. Del Potro has never been to the finals of a major, and I think this is his best chance to date. He is playing very confident tennis right now and is an extremely dangerous player.
Nadal is 4-2 against Del Potro, but the Argentine has won the last two times they have faced (including a win a couple of weeks ago in Montreal). Gonzalez made 59 unforced errors in Nadal's last match, and I don't think you will see Del Potro come close to that number. He is extremely solid from the baseline, moves well for a big guy, is hitting the ball so clean, and has a sonic serve. The question is, how many free points will he win with the serve? He is going to need quite a few, because he doesn't want to get into long rallies with the Spaniard. Nadal served a little better against Gonzalez, and he is going to have to step that area of his game up against Del Potro. If Nadal isn't more aggressive on his serve, than this is going to be a real barnburner. I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see Del Potro win this match, but it is so difficult to pick against Nadal. He is able to come up with big points and he can just wear his opponents down physically and mentally. This will definitely not be over in three sets, and in the end I like Nadal.
Nick's Pick - Nadal in 4 or 5 sets