The hits just keep on coming.

First Novak Djokovic. Then Naomi Osaka. Now Roger Federer.

Similarly beaten by a combination of a very feisty opponent and the frailties of his own body, Federer’s 2019 grand slam campaign came to the end at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov in five dramatic sets, 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. The first year since 2016 Federer has gone without a major title, the Swiss once again finds himself with a particularly large amount of question marks over his head.

Whether he still has the answers, I suppose we’ll see in due course, but for now, credit to Dimitrov. Yesterday I gave the Bulgarian about as much chance of winning as Carlos Ramos has of umpiring one of Serena Williams’ matches, and yet, he came out playing once more like a guy who belongs among the game’s elite players.

Here’s hoping he’s got more to come in the semi-finals, but for now, read on for a look at all the second-half of quarterfinal action in NYC on Wednesday:

All matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Day Session – 12:00pm start

Belinda Bencic (SUI) [13] v Donna Vekic (CRO) [23]

Considering she’s only 22 years old, it might seem a bit strange to say Belinda Bencic’s return to the quarterfinal stage of a major has been a long time coming, and yet it’s taken five years for her to get back here. Now she gets Donna Vekic, who besides being a first-time quarterfinalist herself, is also a former doubles partner, so she likely knows the Swiss as well as anybody. Each having one win apiece against the other, neither woman will be short of belief, particularly as Bencic having just upended Naomi Osaka, and Vekic staging a remarkable fourth-round comeback against Julia Goerges. Who wins this one, it’s very hard to say – Vekic should be able to make this a more grinding affair than Bencic would prefer, but in the end, the latter should still be able to edge it.

Matteo Berrettini (ITA) [24] v Gael Monfils (FRA) [13]

With Elina Svitolina doing her part to ensure the “GEMS Life” will make an appearance in the US Open semis, the question now is, can Gael Monfils make it two-for-two? First, he’ll have to deal with Matteo Berrettini, who after being demolished by Roger Federer at Wimbledon has picked himself back up and made a first major quarterfinal, playing some fantastic baseline tennis. A first career meeting between the two, Monfils and Berrettini should make for a fascinating clash of defence versus offense, with plenty of scintillating rallies as a result. In the end, it should be very close, with the difference maker being whether Monfils can stop Berrettini from finding opportunities to load up on his forehand and instead create angles to employ his own improvisational brilliance – in either case, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took five sets to find out.

Night Session – 7:00pm start

Bianca Andreescu (CAN) [15] v Elise Mertens (BEL) [25]

It’s been an American hard court swing to remember for Bianca Andreescu already here in 2019, but the way she is playing, it can still stand to get a lot better – assuming she gets through Elise Mertens, that is. Having had one of the easiest paths to a major quarterfinal you’ll ever see, it’s hard to know what to make of Mertens but considering she’s actually been a step further than this stage once before at the ’18 Aussie Open, it’s fair to suggest she’s not a complete sitting duck. Still, there’s no denying Andreescu is a commanding favourite, and if she comes in with the same brutal forehand she’s been hitting all tournament, you have to think she should have the goods to win this one.

Diego Schwartzman (ARG) [20] v Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2]

Because apparently the tennis gods deemed downing a literal giant wasn’t enough for Diego Schwartzman when he beat Sascha Zverev in the fourth round, now the diminutive Argentine gets a figurative giant who looms even larger in the form of Rafa Nadal. Leading the head-to-head 7-0, Nadal comes about as strong a favourite as he could be at this stage of a minor tournament, and indeed, it’s hard to see how El peque can even hope to scale the mountain in front of him. That said, Schwartzman’s tenacity certainly counts for something, and while Nadal will eventually batter him into submission, it will take some of the most hard-fought tennis you’ll see anywhere to do it.


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