US Open Tennis 2012: Previewing Djokovic vs Ferrer and Murray vs Berdych

Mike Shiekman@TheRealShiekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:  Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts against Marin Cilic of Croatia during their men's singles quarterfinal match on Day Ten of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer sitting at home in these U.S. Open Semifinals, that opens the doors for Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray to rise back into the limelight.

Djokovic has had a turbulent 2012, including missing out on a medal at this year’s Olympics. This U.S. Open could be his redemption weekend.

Murray is attempting to validate a career with two more wins. Off the heels of a Olympic gold medal, the world will be watching if the Brit can finish the job on arguably a bigger stage.

All the while, lower seeds David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych will try to crash the party. Don’t count these two; they both have major semifinals history and have looked impressive in their tournament runs.

Let’s take a look at how these semifinal matchups shape up.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. David Ferrer (4)

David Ferrer is one of the most underrated players when he hits Flushing Meadows, coming into this semifinal matchup with a 17-9 record. He has already been a semifinalist in 2007, so the butterflies won’t be an issue against Djokovic.

Ferrer plays a hustle-filled, grinding tennis game that usually ends in a fifth set, which he has won four straight at Flushing Meadow heading into the semis.

The last win was the most grueling, taking four-and-a-half hours for the Spaniard to dispatch Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

Ferrer will have to shore up any shortcomings before his matchup with the Djoker, who is the odds-on favorite to take home this U.S. Open title.

Djokovic is a richer-man’s version of Ferrer, specializing not in power, but in returns and defense. Plus, he has the better pedigree to show for it. This will be Djokovic’s sixth straight U.S. Open semifinals, while he plays for his sixth Grand Slam title.

It seems Djokovic is back in form after a shoddy first-half of 2012. Ferrer won’t go away easy, though.

Prediction: Djokovic in four sets

Andy Murray (3) vs. Tomas Berdych (6)

Tomas Berdych is the latest Federer-slayer, defeating the five-time U.S. Open Champion in four sets. He collected the upset in dominating fashion, scoring 14 aces, including a 123 serve speed and only 21 unforced errors.

It was Berdych’s fourth win in seven matches versus Fed, and he has similar success against his next opponent, Andy Murray.

The Czech holds a 2-4 advantage over Murray, making it a good time to call himself the most dangerous man in tennis, no?

Murray isn’t helping the upset speculation either with his recent play.

Against 12th seed Marin Cilic, Murray choked the first set early 3-6 and needed four sets to beat him in all. Many had thought his Olympic gold-medal win may have been a turning point in his career narrative. Today, that theory seems short-sighted.

Murray will have to pull together an Olympic-esque performance to make the final. When in doubt, ride the hot hand.

Prediction: Berdych in five sets