Apologies I couldn't make this post sooner but I have been busy with work and a few other bits and pieces. The big news from yesterday was Mardy Fish pulled out from his 4th round match against Roger citing “health reasons” as the issue behind his withdrawal.
I was very surprised at him pulling out to be honest, I went to play tennis myself before Feds match, looked at the US Open app about an hour before play was scheduled to start and Roger's name had a big fat red tick next to it without a ball being hit. I suppose looking back you can say Fish looked massively fatigued after the Simon match and that probably played a part in his withdrawal.
I don't think there's been any specific details released but I've heard it maybe related to stress/anxiety caused by his accelerated heart beat in the year.
Is Fish's Withdrawal a Good Thing?
I find it quite hard to weigh up withdrawals, on the one hand it means Roger spends less time on court against a potentially tough opponent but it also means he's got a long time off court just as he was finding his game midway through the tournament.
The last withdrawal I remember was Fognini before he faced Djokovic in the Quarter Final at the 2011 French Open. At the time I said that was bad for Djokovic as it meant he had 4 days off and could lose focus on the job at hand. Is that still the case here for Federer?
Tough one really. There's positives and negatives to it. Obviously it means Federer is well rested and comes into the match in great physical shape, but on the flip side he's made the Quarters with zero testing matches. I think the walkover helps hugely but only if he beats Berdych comfortably. That way it means he's into the semi final on Saturday feeling very fresh and with no tournament fatigue ready to play the final on Sunday should he make it. I suppose another positive is that Roger got a walkover at the Australian Open this year and he won his next match comfortably so losing focus likely won't happen.
Federer vs. Berdych Predictions
Matches against Berdych are usually pretty tricky for Fed as for one reason or another the Czech always brings his A-game and plays in the zone.
The H2H stands at 11-4 in favour of Roger and he's won the last two meetings in Bercy at the Paris Masters and on the blue clay of Madrid. But despite that Berdych has won 3 of the last 6 meetings, one of which was in Cincinnati which plays pretty similar to New York.
With this one I'm forgetting all about the stats as I think Roger 3.0 is getting the job done here, he's wary of Berdych after he lost to him at Wimbledon so I think he knows what he has to do and how to play to make sure he's the guy hitting balls into the stands after the match has finished.
Berdych is a power hitter off both wings and he's capable of serving big so I think Roger has to use his variety, drag Berdych out wide on the backhand side so he's hitting at stretch and then move in to punch volleys into the open court. Maybe the best way to describe it is controlled aggression and I think that will be rewarded on the hard courts.
Roger's serve will also be key and he has to make a lot of first serves as Berdych can be pretty ruthless on the second serve return as he's willing to take a step in and go for winners.
We all know Berdych's nerve isn't the best under pressure and I reckon that although the match might be quite close it's Roger who will keep up the pressure and win through in 3 or 4 sets.
I've included a clip of the Madrid final highlights from earlier this year, as we now know Roger wasn't 100% in that match suffering a hip injury yet he still won despite dropping the first set. I think the highlights show pretty well both what Berdych is capable of doing (serious damage when you drop short or are on the back foot) and also some of his weaknesses (pressure, defending). Obviously the Quarter Final isn't clay but I think Fed can use some similar ploys to good effect on Ashe tomorrow.
Hopefully the rain doesn't effect tomorrows schedule!