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Ricky’s Tennis Previews and Picks for the Men’s Quarterfinals @ The US Open • Including Djokovic vs. Berrettini

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is three wins from completing the calendar Grand Slam. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic’s bid for the calendar-year Grand Slam continues with a familiar foe in Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday at the U.S. Open. Djokovic could be on a semifinal collision course with Alexander Zverev, who faces unseeded Lloyd Harris.

Ricky previews those two men’s quarterfinal matches and makes his predictions.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (7) Matteo Berrettini

It will be a rematch of the Wimbledon final when Djokovic and Berrettini meet again on Wednesday night. Djokovic triumphed 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 at the All-England Club to take a 3-0 lead in the head-to-head series. This will be their third consecutive encounter at the Grand Slam level, as the top-ranked Serb also got the job done 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in the French Open quarterfinals.

Will anything be different this time around? It is true that Djokovic has not been at his absolute best in New York, but after each of the three occasions on which he has dropped a set he has responded by dominating his opponents the rest of the way (Holger Rune, Kei Nishikori, and Jenson Brooksby). Berrettini is not playing as well as he was before and during Wimbledon, either. The eighth-ranked Italian isn’t looking as dangerous in these conditions as he was on grass, and Djokovic should learn from his slow-starting mistakes of recent matches to turn in a more consistent performance.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev faces Grand Slam quarterfinal debutant Lloyd Harris for a spot in the US Open semifinals. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

(4) Alexander Zverev vs. Lloyd Harris

Is Zverev the biggest threat to Djokovic’s calendar-year Grand Slam bid? Daniil Medvedev is the second favorite for the title behind the world No. 1, but a lot of that has to do with being on the other side of the draw. Nobody–not even Medvedev–is looking as good as Zverev right now. The fourth-ranked German is 15-0 since Wimbledon with Olympic gold, the Cincinnati title, and U.S. Open defeats of Sam Querrey, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Jack Sock, and Jannik Sinner. Only Sock took a set and the other three opponents forced a grand total of one tiebreaker.

Up next for the No. 3 seed is a third career contest against Harris, who trails the head-to-head series 2-0. The 46th-ranked South African went down 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 last fall on the indoor hard courts of Cologne before most recently losing 7-6(3), 6-2 in Cincinnati less than a month ago. Harris now finds himself in the biggest match of his life following wins this fortnight over Karen Khachanov (five sets), Ernesto Escobedo, Denis Shapovalov (6-4, 6-4, 6-4), and Reilly Opelka. As well as the underdog is playing at the moment, there is not much he can do unless Zverev’s level comes down. Given that there is no sign of that happening, Harris’ run will probably come to a relatively swift end.

Pick: Zverev in 3

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