Rafael Nadal is now the firm favourite to lift his fourth US Open title after arch rival Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out by the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday in the final grand slam of the year in New York. Joining Nadal and Dimitrov in the last four are the Russian Daniil Medvedev and the Italian Matteo Berrettini.
The second seeded Nadal is only within two wins away of his 19th grand slam title, only one short of Roger Federer’s tally of Twenty after he overcame a dogged fightback by the Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the night session on Wednesday. Nadal led in both the opening sets before Schwartzman rallied in each set. However, the 20th seeded Argentine could not take his chances and Nadal made the most of it and went on to win 6-4,7-5,6-2. The Spaniard who won his maiden title in 2010 to complete a career slam, also won in 2013 and 2017.
Nadal got off to a flying start with a double break before Schwartzman broke back twice and even had a break point opportunity to go 5-4 up. Nadal saved it and then broke serve to claim the opening set 6-4. He also led 5-1 in the second only for Schwartzman to level at 5-5 before losing serve in the twelveth game to enable the Spaniard to take the second set 7-5. It was smooth sailing for Nadal in the third set as he broke twice.
Nadal, who has won 83 tour level titles of which 18 have come at the majors, faces the 24th seeded Matteo Berrettini who upset the 13th seeded Gael Monfils of France in five sets 3-6,6-3,6-2,3-6,7-6(5) on Arthur Ashe stadium in three hours and fifty four minutes. Monfils paid a heavy price for 16 double faults, while Berrettini had 15 aces. The 23 year old Italian needed five match points and becomes the first Italian since Corrado Barazzutti in 1977 to reach the last four at the U.S. Open.
There was heavy drama on Tuesday as both Daniil Medvedev and Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the last four at the expense of former champions from Switzerland, Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer respectively. In the afternoon session, the fifth seeded Medvedev continues his amazing run on the American hard courts as he defeated the 24th seeded Wawrinka, a winner in 2016, 7-6(6),6-3,3-6,6-1 to advance to his first semi-final at a Grand slam.
The Russian who was labeled as the Villain after his third round win over the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez at the Louis Armstrong stadium, won the all important first set on a tie-break. The pair exchanged the next two sets 6-3, but Medvedev stamped his class with two breaks of service in the fourth set to advance.
Medvedev who was the finalist in Washington DC and Montreal before going on to claim his maiden Master’s series title in Cincinnati, next faces the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who ended the hopes of the five time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland 3-6,6-4,3-6,6-4,6-2. Federer got the lone break of serve in the first set, but Dimitrov nicknamed baby Federer levelled the match at one set apiece with only one break of serve. Normal service seemed to be restored in the third set which Federer won with two breaks of service.
However the Bulgarian broke early in the fourth set and had to save five break points while serving out the fourth set in the tenth game. The Swiss maestro who won five consecutive titles between 2004-2008, and was also a runner up in 2009 and 2015, got off to the worst possible start in the decider in which Dimitrov broke twice to lead 4-0. Federer held his serve in the next two games but Dimitrov was not be denied as he entered a third career semi final at a major, the first at Wimbledon 2013 and the latest being at the Australian Open in 2017.
In the ladies section of the draw, the American Serena Williams dropped only one game in decimating China’s Wang Qiang 6-1,6-0. She now faces the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who ended the run of the Briton Johanna Konta 6-4,6-4. The other semi-finals pits the Canadian Brianna Andreescu and the Swiss Belinda Bencic. Andreescu, came from a set down to beat Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6,6-2,6-3 in the night session on Wednesday on Arthur Ashe stadium after Bencic beat Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6(5),6-3.
Following then are the line ups in the men’s and women’s last four with my pick mentioned first:-
Daniil Medvedev (5) v. Grigor Dimitrov (-)
Rafael Nadal (2) v. Matteo Berrettini (24)
Serena Williams (8) v. Elina Svitolina (5)
Belinda Bencic (13) v. Brianna Andreescu (15)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]