U.S. Open Singles Semifinals Breakdown

This year’s U.S. Open has already yielded many spectacular matches, and there’s still four days left of play. After 25 years of coverage on the USA Network (ESPN and the Tennis Channel will pick up the rights next year), the athletes are providing a worthy sendoff. We’ve already seen an epic showdown between the Williams sisters and a grueling five-setter from Novak Djokovic and Tommy Robredo. However, unranked or low-seeded players have given the likes of Rafael Nadal and Dinara Safina a run for their money. Below I’ve previewed both the men’s and women’s semifinal matches, which will begin tomorrow.


Dinara Safina RUS (6) vs. Serena Williams USA (4)

The spotlight has always just missed Dinara Safina. Though the 22-year-old has won a Grand Slam doubles title, a singles championship has always eluded her. Also, it doesn’t help that she’s the little sister of 2000 U.S. Open men’s champion, Marat Safin. Safina lost to Ana Ivanovic in this year’s French Open final and earned the silver medal in Beijing. Unfortunately, two-time U.S. Open women’s champion Serena Williams now stands in her way. After losing to Venus at Wimbledon, the sisters put on a phenomenal show last night at Flushing Meadows, with Serena emerging the victor. Given Safina’s emotionality on the court and her focused desire to win the same championship as her brother, tomorrow’s match is a must-see.

Elena Dementieva RUS (5) vs. Jelena Jankovic SRB (3)

Elena Dementieva is another top-ranked player who’s never won a Grand Slam, a testament to how competitive the WTA Tour has been this year. However, it was Dementieva that took the gold from Safina in Beijing. She’s also beat Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, and Svetlana Kuznetsova in previous tournaments. Her opponent, Jelena Janokovic, continues her campaign for her first Grand Slam championship as well. Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the women’s competition is that the winner will not only receive the U.S. Open trophy, but the world No. 1 ranking (from Ivanovic) to boot.


Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Andy Murray GBR (6)

By now, most sports fans should be acquainted with Rafael Nadal, even if they’ve covered their ears at the mention of tennis. Some say that the rivalry he has with Roger Federer has resurrected the sport. While that may or may not be true, those two have definitely set a high standard of play and their matches are a pleasure to watch. Still, there’s no question that Nadal is this year’s dominant player, having won the French Open, Wimbledon, and the gold medal at Beijing. Murray, on the other hand, has never won a Grand Slam tournament. Both are very quick and eclectic players, so count on seeing dozens of drop shots and volleys at the net. It seems like more and more matches are being forced into the fifth set. (Nadal’s last match finished at 2:15 ET this morning!) This one shouldn’t be any different, with each player bringing out the best in the other.

Roger Federer SUI (2) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3)

Of all the matches in the singles semifinals, this will be the most exciting to watch, for a couple of reasons. First, Roger Federer is on a mission. He seems to like having the No. 2 ranking by his name; it’s almost as if a certain weight has been lifted that allows his to make amateur mistakes and take the same risks he did when he first joined the tour. He’s not playing like he did four years ago, but the this is his tournament, and he’s going for his fifth U.S. Open championship in a row. Novak Djokovic, was his opponent in 2007 final at Flushing Meadows. The New York crowd fell in love with the Serb, in part because of strong play against Federer, but also because of this hilarious video that has since surfaced. Unfortunately, New York’s adoration is a double-edged sword, and its cheers have since turned to boos over the past two days. Both Tommy Robredo and Andy Roddick criticized Djokovic for taking too much time during matches to nurse his injuries. Roddick was a bit more vocal, causing Djokovic to take offense. After Djokovic destroyed Roddick on his home turf, he was interviewed (in front of the 20,000+ crowd) and addressed the derogatory remarks. You can decide if the crowd’s response was justified. Either way, I find Djokovic completely entertaining. He’s also a gifted tennis player and a good bet for stopping Federer’s reign at the U.S. Open.

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