Tuesday, September 04, 2012

2012 US Open QF Preview, Pt.2

Hello all and welcome to the second quarterfinals coverage. I don’t like Murray particularly for a lot of reasons and I've always had an indifferent attitude to Cilic. But, hey, hey they both played well to get here and I will concentrate on their strong points.

…Murray leads 6-1, but Cilic routinely beat him 7-5/6-2/6-2 when he was the finalist from the previous year and was a pre-tournament favorite. Also, because of a withdrawal, the head-to-head is only 5-1 but Murray is still in control. Also, they have met at every grand slam with Murray putting Cilic to the sword earlier this year at Wimbledon, 7-5/6-2/6-3. Full details here.

=Cilic(12) Route Through=
R1: def. Matosevic
..fine, Cilic is in the quarters, but did he deserve to make it there? If you survive a tough match you should have lost, does that mean you deserve to be through because you survived, or you don’t because you played badly? Well, Cilic scraped through against Aussie Marinko Matosevic 5-7(57m),2-6 (40m),6-4(48),6-2(33),6-4(59) and perhaps he does deserve to have scraped through. In just under 4 hours he was through after an ugly affair. 63 unforced errors, 5 more than his opponent and poor serving stats (only 50 percent of first serves in isn’t great) show that when Cilic is off ,he’s very ordinary. But no matter, the important thing is that he survived a very tough opener. And in a grand slam, it’s all about surviving to the next round. Luckily for Cilic, he had a really easy match on paper up next in the form of the German Daniel Brands.

R2: def. Brands
…Cilic smashed Brands in the first two sets before he crumbled in the most incredible way. I always thought the only way he could have done this is by doing it on purpose. But -- somehow,someway -- he won 6-3 (44),6-2 (31),5-7 (55),4-6,(44),7-5 (46) in 3 hours and forty minutes. So thus far, against two opponents he should really beat easily, Cilic has been taken to five in both and spent 7 hours and 36 minutes on court. Ouch. In any case, he increased his first serve percentage to 54 percent and hit 16 aces, one more than his opponent and only 7 doubles to his opponents 12. He also had just 38 unforced errors compared to the German’s 71 and outdid him in winners 49 to 41. Still, this was a painful match and even worse he had a really tough match up next. And against his next opponent he would have to step his level up.

R3: def. Nishikori (17)
…I have a friend who is a massive Nishikori fan and he was so excited about this match because Tsonga had gone out and Kei had a huge opportunity to basically move through to the quarters. But then something happened that neither of us expected. Nishikori didn’t turn up. I’m not saying Cilic did, but he didn’t play too badly. He eventually got through despite throwing away another lead (what is it with this guy?) 6-3 (43), 6-4 (51), 6-7 (82), 6-3 (37). That was another 2 hours 33 minutes on court which meant he’d now been on court for 10 hours and 9 minutes. His first serve percentage was just 46%.That’s poor, especially for any match in a slam. However, out-acing his opponent 3 times over with 12 aces to 4 and only hitting 4 doubles, which was half of Kei’s double faults, so maybe if the first serve percentage went up he’d do a lot better. His winners and unforced errors were both at 46. However, having watched this match he basically out-rallied Kei from the baseline and whenever he was in trouble hit a big serve. My friend I mentioned earlier was gutted because frankly up till now Nishikori had been on form and Marin had been average at best.

R4: def. Klizan
…after defeating Tsonga in the upset of the tournament so far, Klizan got through to the fourth round playing like Nadal in parts of it. He sent Chardy packing in straight sets and I genuinely thought that he’d beat Cilic. However, yet again Cilic proved me wrong. Spending only 2 hours and three minutes on court against Klizan, Cilic sent Martin back to Bratislava with a 7-5 (43),6-4 (48),6-0 (32) scoreline. I watched this match whilst writing my Federer/Berdych preview and -- I know this will sound stupid -- Klizan could have won. He had breaks and so many chances in both the first two sets. I think he got nervous and then faded. This time Cilic got his first serve percentage up to 56% and hit the same number of winners and unforced errors:23. 7 aces and 2 double faults is also Ok. But Cilic has scraped through to the quarterfinals and I know this may kick start a new chapter of his career, but if he wins the 2012 US Open I will eat my laptop, charger and all.

=Murray(3) Route Through=
R1: def. Bogomolov Jr.
…the 73rd-ranked Russian number three has beaten Murray before. Although that was when Murray was in awful form and that was after his humiliating thrashing in the final of the Australian Open at the hands of Djokovic. This match was scrappy and of bad quality. The first few minutes of this really awful two-hour and 15-minute slugfest -- not in a good way, either -- which sounds one-sided but actually wasn’t in reality, were particularly poor in that there were no holds for the first five games.

R2: def. Dodig
…the man famous for beating Nadal when he was a no one 1-6/7-6/7-6 at last year’s Montreal Masters in Canada took on Murray in the 2nd round and he’s a dangerous opponent. He’s got a big serve and is a real fighter. But Murray was clinical and pretty much smashed him 6-2 (36),6-1 (34),6-3 (41) in just under two hours. With 10 aces and only one double fault, and with 30 winners to just 21 unforced errors, Murray started to come into his own and began to look good. There’s not really that much to say about this match, to be honest. Murray avoided the slim chance of an upset and was rarely troubled. But waiting for him in the 3rd round....

R3: def. Lopez (30)
…the swashbuckling, serve-volleying, swinging, super Spaniard Feli or Deliciano, as he's known, too. I’ve always had time for Lopez's old school game that is so take-no-prisoners and so great to watch. But I digress, disappointingly from my point of view, Muzza won 7-6(5) (59m), 7-6(5) (64m), 4-6 (42), 7-6(4) (68) despite having an OK first serve percentage of 61% he was out-aced 18-16 and hit three more double faults than his opponent’s four. Feli hit 68 winners to Andy’s 53 too. However -- and I’m gonna say it like it is -- both men deserved to win this match and I really think Feli could have won this for the upset. It was so entertaining and I love the way Feli serve-volleys and the way he hits his slice backhand. This match should be up there for most entertaining when the Open comes to a close, you know when Federer triple-bagels Djokovic in the final. No not really folks, I’m sure Djokovic can nab a game somewhere down the line.

R4: def. Raonic (15)
…I picked this to go to five epic sets. It didn’t and that’s because Murray matches up so well against the big servers. I had forgotten that, but I won’t do it again. He has such a strong return, Muzza, and he loves a target. He can also lob and can defend as well as anyone. And he ruthlessly dispatched the Canadian young gun 6-4 (35), 6-4 (47), 6-2 (38) in exactly two hours. He hit 6 less aces but still had 8, which is respectable, and had a decent 64 percent of first serves landing in the court. And only one double fault to boot. He also had only 12 unforced errors to the Canadian’s 27, but Raonic had 34 winners, which is three more than Murray. Murray was on fire and completely dominated Milos and didn’t give him any room to work his game. And that frankly is just impressive.

=Why Why Cilic Beats Murray=
…when you’re the underdog but you have a shot at an upset, it’s a wonderful experience and I have had that experience many times before as has everybody, except perhaps Serena Williams. And he can go out there with nothing to lose and just start swinging. He’s got a really good return he hits hard and deep straight up the middle of the court which cuts off his opponent’s angles and he’s got a big game. He can even chip and charge if he has to.

=Why Murray Beats Cilic=
…because Cilic has had a bad first serve percentage all week and if it’s bad again against Murray then Murray will just use his second serve as batting practice. If he can beat Raonic so easily then he’ll surely dispatch Cilic just as easily. He can outdo the lanky Croat from the baseline and he can out-finesse him in the forecourt. Also he can exploit Cilic's movement with the drop shot he so fondly overuses.

=What I think will happen=
…Murray will safely get through to the semifinals after a tricky first set. He will make Cilic look ordinary in the last two sets. However, I do think Cilic has finally got his career back on track and maybe nicking a set isn’t out of the question. Also, neither one of these players will win the US Open, in my personal opinion.

Murray 7-6 (9) 6-1 6-4

Ta-Ta for now and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here for the next two which could star Djokovic and Ferrer, who is currently two sets up on Gasquet. Also go to WTA Backspin because it’s fab!

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