Tuesday, September 08, 2015

U.S. Open Day 8: Kudos, Kevin -- We Krown You King

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Well, that was a late night. And it was a night all about Kevin Anderson. Andy Murray was world number two just two weeks ago, but for the first time since the 2010 U.S. Open he did not make the quarterfinals of a slam he has actually entered. Anderson was always going to be dangerous, always going to be tricky and so it proved. But he improved to 1-7 in slam quarter-finals and now he has a chance to go at Wawrinka. And, frankly, he could win that. I think Stan will be too good, but there is still a chance.

And now Wawrinka can challenge for the top three. And Federer can make safe the world number two ranking. But for Murray this is not just a blip. Oh, he’ll make slam semi-finals next year and he will be back, but I think this is the beginning of the end. He looked angry and frustrated throughout. But I think in two U.S. Opens he will not be in the top five. He may still be in the top ten, but really I think we’re seeing the end of the top four as not only a force but the end of the top four in general. Murray and Nadal are literally fading before our eyes. And Roger has outlasted them both. And is still number two. And that has to be so frustrating. He just made his 46th quarterfinal at slam level. Combined Murray and Nadal have just seven more.

But this is fully deserved. Anderson has made all the right noises and he has had a fantastic career. He is so solid, so consistent. He never fails to make his seeding. In fact, he often goes a round beyond that. The only time this doesn’t occur is under exceptional circumstances. Gasquet beat him at the French Open, but the Frenchman pulled that match out of his a-... err, he produced some incredible magic to win through there.

BACKSPIN salutes you Kevin. And all that you have achieved.

QUESTION: The last South African man to make a slam quarterfinal at the U.S. was who and when?

...Could we have our first [I think] all Swiss Semi-final ever at slam level looming? That remains to be seen, but the seeds and the form would indicate this is so. Gasquet won’t beat Federer over five sets. He may not even get a set, sadly. But Anderson could cause an upset, though Stan should be too good on paper. Wawrinka is through after getting past a courageous, athletic, driven Donald Young 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, and 6-4. The 52 winners are good but the 48 errors aren’t. Wawrinka needs to play more consistently now that he is playing an explosive big hitter. He has to find consistency and he has to make Anderson play. Anderson leads the head to head 4-3 and won in straight sets this year at Queens, though that was on grass. Wawrinka last beat Anderson in 2013. The South African went 3-0 in 2014 and 1-0 this year. But this is over five sets. I still think that match will be closer than people think. It will definitely go four.
...Since 2013 and through 109 service games, John Isner has defied the break. He has held his serve here in New York for 109 games. I don’t think I hold that many in a year. And he has done it consecutively on the biggest stage. But he lost it as Federer got past him 7-6[0], 7-6[8], 7-5. It took Federer until his tenth break point to finally snap the streak, but that’s why he is the greatest. He can snap streaks. He broke Djokovic’s run on his worst surface and he has broken the long run of Isner, too. He defies the strength and the streaks of other players. Nadal did it, too, when he was relevant. And, yes, it feels strange saying that. Federer hit just 16 errors and 55 winners in this masterclass. Isner managed 53 winners but he couldn’t take any of the five break points he got. He won just 22 per cent of receiving points. And that 72 per cent of second serves won is phenomenal. Federer has Gasquet then probably Wawrinka next. Stan can beat Roger. But I think Roger is too hot to handle right now. He isn’t even dropping serve. And add to that he has an easier quarter-final matchup, too. The final surely beckons for the world number two.
...Armstrong gave us two classic four setters. Actually this whole set of fourth-rounds was pretty perfect, though a five-setter would have been nice. Anderson got his first top ten win with a tough, gritty 7-6[5], 6-3, 6-7[2], 7-6[0] victory over the word number three. The last breaker was the best I’ve seen perhaps ever, bar one. Verdasco beating Nadal in the fourth set breaker in their match in Melbourne all those years ago. But that one was perfect from Anderson. His 25 aces now give him 92 aces, some 12 ahead of Cilic. If Cilic loses or Anderson loses but hits, say, 12 more aces than the Croat the South African will seal top spot here on the aces count. Murray looked weak here. His opponent won a higher per cent of receiving points and hit 81 winners to Murray’s 49. This was a match where Anderson dominated and Murray was passive. Anderson stepped up big and he’ll have to do so again against Wawrinka. But for Murray there is so much work that needs doing going into the final stages of the season. And this is the kind of loss that will either inspire him or make him crumble.
...Could this be the performance of the day? Richard ripped past Berdie in the end 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1. This is his [ready for this?] 20th fourth round appearance. And he is 4-16. It’s just baffling and mind-blowing. The sheer consistency and frustration in equal measure. And he is 3-0 in slam quarter-finals, but that streak is coming to an end against Federer. That much is for sure. The Frenchman needed only two hours and 20 minutes to get through the match. Gasquet matched his opponent’s 12 aces and hit just one less winner than the explosive Berdych. He did hit 12 less errors, however. He also won the breaks war with five to the Czech’s two. But he cannot only win 54% of second serve points against Federer. That is like blood in the water around Amity. So in honour of their upcoming match shall we have a throwback? I heard a "yes" over there. That’s enough of an excuse.


In the women’s doubles some order has been restored. Seeds 1, 4, 5 and 9 are all still around as the ladies doubles finally showed us their quarter-final line-up. The third seeds Babos/Mladenovc were ousted by the 15th seed. Casey and Yaroslava will play the twelfth seeded A-Pavs/Alla Kud. After that they have achieved their seeding and made the semi-finals. They should meet 5th seeds Garcia/Srebotnik in that semi-final. But unseeded Groenfield/Vandeweghe could throw a spanner in the works. It’s just been that kind of a tournament.

ANSWER: It was Wayne Ferreira, but did you get the year? If you said 1992 you would have been right. He went down 6-1 in the 5th to Chang who lost in five in the next round to Edberg, the eventual champion.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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