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Ricky’s Picks For The U.S. Open Tennis Men’s Semis: Nadal vs. Berrettini And Medvedev vs. Dimitrov

By Ricky Dimon

Only one member of the Big 3 is through to the U.S. Open semifinals, and it’s Rafael Nadal. Now a massive favorite for the title, Nadal will continue his campaign against Matteo Berrettini on Friday. The other match pits Daniil Medvedev against unseeded Grigor Dimitrov.

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

(24) Matteo Berrettini vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

This should be the more straightforward of the two semifinals. It will obviously be an extremely tough task for Berrettini, who has never played in a Grand Slam semi and has never faced Nadal. Needless to say, that is not a good combination. Berrettini may know what to expect, but will he know how to handle it?

Moreover, the underdog Italian is coming off a thrilling five-setter against Gael Monfils, whom he beat in a decisive tiebreaker. Nadal got everything Diego Schwartzman could throw at him on Wednesday night, but the world No. 2 still did not surrender a set and he has lost only one to Marin Cilic throughout the fortnight. He has been in stellar hard-court form this summer, having triumphed in Montreal before getting some rest by withdrawing from Cincinnati. That looks like a good decision right now, just as it was in 2017 when he captured a third U.S. Open title.

Berrettini has the big serve and forehand that can give Nadal trouble, but the 18-time Grand Slam champion is serving well enough and returning well enough such that he will not let the world No. 25 dictate play. A steady diet of heavy topspin forehands will pepper the Berrettini backhand, and perhaps the biggest factor will be the discrepancy in experience.

Pick: Nadal in 3

(5) Daniil Medvedev vs. Grigor Dimitrov

This will be the first Grand Slam semifinal without any member of the Big 3 since Wimbledon in 2018 (Kevin Anderson vs. John Isner). Medvedev’s presence in the semis is not entirely shocking aside from the fact that he found himself in world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s section of the bracket. Djokovic, however, retired while trailing Stan Wawrinka two sets to love in the fourth round and then Medvedev defeated Wawrinka 7-6(6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on Wednesday afternoon. The 23-year-old Russian’s energy-sapping, crowd-enraging run also includes victories over Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Hugo Dellien, Feliciano Lopez, and Dominik Koepfer. One more win would propel Medvedev into an incredible fourth consecutive title match. He finished runner-up in Washington, D.C. and Montreal to begin his hard-court summer before lifting the trophy in Cincinnati.

Dimitrov’s summer had been a nightmare, but his U.S. Open has developed into a dream. The 28-year-old Bulgarian was a disastrous 1-7 in his eight most recent matches prior to arriving in New York City, where he has suddenly reeled off wins over Andreas Seppi, Kamil Majchrzak, Alex de Minaur, and Roger Federer–the latter in five sets on Wednesday night. Dimitrov has been both lucky and good this fortnight, as he got a walkover from Borna Coric in round two, Majchrzak was a lucky loser, and Federer was dealing with an upper-back injury. Still, the world No. 78 has been showcasing his best tennis since winning the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017.

It could continue, too, as Medvedev may not be 100 percent due to a left-quad issue and general fatigue. That being said, two days off instead of one will do the favorite a world of good. For both good and bad reasons, Medvedev has arguably been the biggest story on the ATP Tour this summer–especially at the U.S. Open–and it only feels right for him to make final number four in a row. If Medvedev is close to 100 percent, he will likely be too consistent and win too many free points on serve for Dimitrov.

Pick: Medvedev in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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