US Open 2018 Day 9: Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinal Preview

published: Sep, 04, 2018

by: Ben Stevens

It’s been a wild ride to get here (bye, bye, Roger), but finally, we’ve reached the money rounds. The 2018 US Open quarterfinals are upon us.

Featuring an eclectic mix of players, from up-and-comers, to comeback kids, to reigning champions, to perennial bridesmaids and even all-time greats, there really is something for every sports fan in the men’s and women’s last eight. Who will rise and who will fall? Only time will tell, but read on for a look at what to expect as quarterfinals action gets underway on day 9 in Flushing.

All matches on Arthur Ashe (12:00pm start)

Sloane Stephens (USA) [3] v Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) [19]

A second straight US Open quarterfinal between Stephens and Sevastova, a repeat of last year’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 affair would be a more than welcome occurrence. Holding a 2-1 head-to-head advantage – including a recent 6-2, 6-2 win in Montreal – Stephens comes into this one a strong favourite, but it would be unwise to completely dismiss Sevastova’s chances of upsetting the American. Possessing an all-court game that, while possessing no true weapons, also has no real weaknesses, when “on” Sevastova can exploit Stephens’ tendency to get too comfortable behind the baseline and use sudden changes in direction to create attacking positions, and with her ability to finish at net, Stephens could have a harder time counter-punching her way out of trouble. That said, if Stephens picks up where she left off in her previous match against Elise Mertens, Sevastova – and the rest of the women’s draw – should look out.

 (Not before 1:30pm)

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [3] v John Isner (USA) [11]

A match for all the big serving, hard hitting, quick-games-yet-long-sets aficionados out there, Isner v Del Potro is the tennis equivalent of two boxers trading haymakers for 12 rounds. A very even rivalry in recent years — Isner has won four of the last seven after losing the first four meetings — and there’s no reason not to expect that continue here, especially with the form both men are in. A matchup inevitably predicated on the first-strike points, simple execution will matter the most – obviously on serve, but also in the contest between Isner’s forehand and Del Potro’s backhand. If the Argentine continues to hit that his two-hander as he has so far this tournament, you have to give him the slight edge, but nothing is guaranteed against Isner – especially here where he can just play for the tiebreak – and that means this has every chance of being a real nail biter.

Night Session (7:00pm start)

Serena Williams (USA) [17] v Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [8]

A final shot at a slam in 2018 that Serena wants as much as Pliskova needs, someone is going home very disappointed after this one. Their first meeting since Pliskova upset Serena 6-2, 7-5 here in  the 2016 semis, Williams comes in the favourite again here, and yet the Czech has every right to feel confident in her own chances, considering she is yet to drop a set this tournament. Indeed, if Pliskova gets a little help from Serena on serve, and is able to control the baseline by getting the consistent depth needed to set up her massive backhand, the American will be hard pressed in this one — but that’s a big if. Anything less than Pliskova’s best, and Serena blows her off the court – just don’t completely discount the chance of an upset.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] v Dominic Thiem (AUT) [9]

The King of Clay and the would-be man to dethrone him, things are set to get very interesting when Rafa Nadal and Domi Thiem face off. Their first match not on clay in their 11th meeting, Nadal leads the head-to-head 7-3, and yet while it certainly wouldn’t be a shocker to see a repeat of his Roland Garros demolition job earlier this year, you have to wonder if the change of surface will give Thiem something extra. Certainly it will help the Austrian’s ability to hit through the court, particularly in terms of countering Nadal’s attacks to his one-handed backhand by either flattening the shot out, or stepping around it to crunch forehands, but whether he can do it over five sets against a man who simply won’t wear down, well that remains to be seen…

Ben Stevens

Contributor to TennisConnected. Long time player, coach and fan. Still waiting on Mark Philippoussis to break through at a major.

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