My predictions have gone extremely wobbly this week, but then again some of the results have been very surprising. It is nice to see a few notable mens matches and I enjoyed the end to the Hewitt-Youzhny match tonight. Lleyton Hewitt still managing to compete at the top level is pretty magnificent, but he had the match in his hands and will be gutted to have lost the last 5 games against Mikhail Youzhny having served for the match.
1. Richard Gasquet v David Ferrer
Monday was a landmark day in Richard Gasquet's career as he reached just his second Grand Slam quarter-final, a first since making the last four at Wimbledon in 2007. Gasquet has widely been discredited for his mentality in the critical moments of big matches, but he put up one hell of a fight as he saved a match point in a 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(9) 7-5 in 4 hours and 40 minutes. Gasquet now takes on David Ferrer, who needed four tough sets to get past Janko Tipsarevic for the second consecutive year at the US Open.
I do find it amusing that we were all looking for upsets in this quarter, but it is has held firm with Gasquet and Ferrer proving their worth. Gasquet heads into this match with just 1 win over Ferrer in 9 encounters with the last of those matches taking place at the US Open in 2012. Gasquet surely will have picked up some confidence from his win over Raonic, but Ferrer is still the big favourite in this one.
Prediction - Ferrer to beat Gasquet in 5 sets
2. Flavia Pennetta v Roberta Vinci
Sara Errani was the highest ranked player in the third quarter, but it is her Italian counterparts, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta who will contest an unlikely US Open quarter-final. I spoke last week of how the changing of the guard in Italian tennis has thrown up very few match-ups between Pennetta, Schiavone, Errani and Vinci, but we will get another one here with Pennetta experiencing some kind of revival this week. Vinci has had an extremely favourable draw having yet to play a seed, but credit to her for taking full advantage of it.
Pennetta has had a much tougher draw and beaten Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Simona Halep along the way; the last of those wins against the in-form Romanian, who many had earmarked for the semi-finals, was a really fabulous win. Pennetta and Vinci are tied at 4-4 in the head-to-head, but they have not played since 2010. I think there will be a lot of nerves in this one with both gunning for a first ever Grand Slam semi-final... I am going for Vinci to win it, which would see her crack the top 10.
Prediction - Vinci to beat Pennetta in 3 sets
3. Victoria Azarenka v Daniela Hantuchova
Another absorbing match on the womens side saw Victoria Azarenka edge out a sparkling effort from Ana Ivanovic, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Once again though Ivanovic came up short despite playing a decent match against a pretty out-of-sorts Azarenka, who will have no chance of winning a first US Open title in her current form. Next up though should be a more comfortable match against Daniela Hantuchova, who has beaten 2 qualifiers and 2 wildcards in what must be one of the most pedestrian draws anyone has ever faced to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final. Like Vinci though, she has done all that is required of her and credit must be given for taking the opportunity with both hands.
Azarenka and Hantuchova are tied at 2-2 in the head-to-head, but Azarenka has won the last two matches they have played including a 6-4 6-1 win in Indian Wells earlier this year. Vika is not playing anywhere near her best right now, but I really cannot see Hantuchova challenging her in this one.
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Hantuchova in 2 sets
4. Rafael Nadal v Tommy Robredo
When I woke up to find Tommy Robredo had beaten Roger Federer, I was really quite shocked! Robredo had never beaten Federer in 10 previous matches and had also struggled with an injury at the end of his 3rd round win over Dan Evans. A 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4 victory for Robredo secured him his second Grand Slam quarter-final of the year, which once again, will be against a Spaniard. Rafael Nadal lost the opening set of his 4th round match with Philipp Kohlschreiber, which prompted vibes from Black Wednesday at this year's Wimbledon, but he stormed back to take the match in 4 sets.
This has been another superb tournament for Robredo, who I believe will crack the top 20 again by virtue of his exploits this week. I was so sure Federer would beat Robredo and looked what happened. However I feel confident in saying that Nadal will ease past Robredo in straight sets,
Prediction - Nadal to beat Robredo in 3 sets