Tennis Preview – Saturday November 5

Upsets have ruled the day in both Valencia and Basel, as all of the semi-final matches in both tournaments feature seeded players against unseeded players.

Order will likely be restored in Basel, while I predict one major upset in Valencia.

BASEL SEMI-FINALS:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC VS. KEI NISHIKORI

Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori enters the semi-finals in fine form, having recorded an impressive first round win over Tomas Berdych before subsequently dispatching Andreas Seppi and Mikhail Kukushkin.  Nishikori is one of the top young players in tennis and he has shown off his all around game in Basel, playing impressively off the forehand wing and displaying an impressive net game.

Djokovic, on the other  hand, has been playing at a little bit of a lower level than his otherworldly standards.  He surprisingly lost sets to players outside the top 50 in Xavier Malisse and Marcos Baghdatis.  Nishikori will easily be Djokovic’s stiffest test to date as he has avoided playing a top 35 player to this point in the tournament.

Look for Nishikori to come out guns ablazing and keep this match competitive until Djokovic’s experience and slightly better all-around game  carry the day.  I especially like Djokovic to begin deciphering Nishikori’s service game and pull away in the third set in what promises to be a competitive thriller.

PREDICTION: Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-2

STANISLAS WAWRINKA VS. ROGER FEDERER

Swiss tennis fans will undoubtedly be excited to see their top two tennis players meet in the semi-finals of their home tournament in Basel.  Olympic doubles partners, world top 20 players and good friends Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka square off tomorrow in what should be an interesting match.

While Wawrinka has certainly played well in this tournament, he has benefited from his draw in this tournament.  Specifically, Andy Murray’s withdrawal led Wawrinka to meet talented youngster Robin Haase instead of the world #3 in the second round.  Wawrinka has had to defeat a top 30 player (Florian Mayer) a top 40 player (Ivan Dodig) and a top 50 player (Haase) to get to the semis and he looked especially impressive in knocking out a hot Florian in the last round.

Federer seems to be rounding into form at exactly the right time.  After a rough first few games against American Andy Roddick, Federer began dominating his quarterfinal match before cruising to an easy 3 and 2 victory.

Historically Federer has not had a problem with his countryman and there is no reason to think that anything will change this time around.  Federer is 9-1 lifetime against Wawrinka and has won 15 out of the last 16 sets against his mate.  While Federer is definitely the more complete player, Wawrinka often seems in awe at the player on the other end of the net when they meet and his form drops.

PREDICTION: Federer 6-4 6-2

VALENCIA SEMI-FINALS

DAVID FERRER VS. JUAN MONACO

Two familiar opponents face off in Valencia as defending champion and world #5 David Ferrer takes on veteran Argentine and world #41 Juan Monaco.

Historically, these two have played very tight matches with both players winning three times in their six career meetings.  Most recently, Ferrer prevailed over Monaco in Acapulco earlier this year, however, an examination of that match shows that it certainly could have gone the other way.  While Ferrer converted 5/7 breakpoints, Monaco only was able to convert four out of his astounding 14 break point chances.  If Monaco were able to take adavantage of his opportunities, he would have been the victor.

Monaco historically has been able to handle Ferrer’s less than stellar first serve.  In their three most recent match-ups, Ferrer has prevailed on 61%, 67% and 61% of first service points.  This is well below his average of 73% of first service points won.

I expect Monaco to continue to challenge Ferrer’s serve and to convert more of his break opportunities.

PREDICTION: MONACO 6-7 6-4 7-5

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO VS. MARCEL GRANOLLERS

Count me as someone who thought that Marcel Granollers was going to fall outside the top 50 this week, as I felt that there would be no way that he could defend the 300 points that he gained from making the Valencia finals last year.  Well, it looks like I may have been off, as he gone on yet another amazing run in his home country by making the semi-finals.  Along the way, he has pulled off upsets against Alexandr Dolgopolov, Marin Cilic and Gael Monfils.  Defeating the latter two was no small feat as both had been coming off tournament victories in their most recent events.

Granollers’ luck will probably run out against Juan Martin Del Potro who is likely motivated by the chance to make the ATP World Tour Finals with a victory in Valencia and a good showing at the Masters 1000 event in Paris next week.

Granollers game relies on precision and consistency and I believe that he will have trouble with Del Potro’s big weapons.  When Del Potro is on, like his is this week, the only way for Del Potro to lose to a player like Granollers is to defeat himself.  Del Potro has too much on the line to let that happen.

Look for Del Potro to attack Granollers all match and force his opponent to play some offense.  Del Potro should cruise through to the finals against a very hot opponent.

PREDICTION: Del Potro 6-3 6-2

 

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