On Saturday, tennis fans will be treated to a pair of very intriguing matches, as four men remain in contention for the 2013 U.S. Open crown.
While it was expected that former U.S. Open champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal would still be in the mix for the title at this stage of the tournament, both Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka have surprised many by advancing to the final four of the year's final Grand Slam.
Now, with just two of the ATP's top five players remaining, Wawrinka and Gasquet may be staring down at their most realistic chance at winning one of the sport's most prestigious events, so they'll be motivated to put forth their best efforts against truly elite opponents.
Heading into today's matches, here's an early look at who will advance to the tournament final.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Novak Dkojovic
As a No. 9 seed, Wawrinka's run to the semifinal round is more than a little bit surprising, especially given the giants he's had to slay to get this far.
So far, the 28-year-old Lausanne, Switzerland native has taken down a pair of the world's best in reigning U.S. Open champion Andy Murray and No. 5 Tomas Berdych, and only dropped one set in the process.
But Wawrinka's record against Djokovic, the 2011 Open champ, is mediocre at best, so he'll have to play the match of his life in order to reach the first Grand Slam final of his career.
Earlier this year, Wawrinka fell to the slick Serb in an epic five-set affair during the fourth round of the Australian Open that lasted more than five hours, so it's conceivable that he could give Djokovic a run for his money.
A year ago, Djokovic had his way with Wawrinka at Flushing Meadows in straight sets (though Wawrinka retired midway through the third set), and the six-time Slam winner hasn't lost to the Swiss star since 2006.
Prediction: It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Djokovic will advance to his fourth straight U.S. Open Final, especially given how dominant he's been in New York this summer thus far. After having only dropped two sets through his first five matches, the 26-year-old appears to be firing on all cylinders, so it would be a massive upset if Wawrinka were to pull out a victory. Djokovic will roll on in straight sets. 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Richard Gasquet vs. Rafael Nadal
After missing last year's tournament due to a lengthy injury-related absence, Rafael Nadal has been very impressive through his first five matches, beating a pair of quality opponents in Tommy Robredo (who saved his fellow Spaniard from facing Roger Federer) and Philipp Kohlschreiber to set up a semifinal showdown against No. 8 Gasquet.
On paper, Nadal has to be considered a heavy favorite, because the 12-time major champion has thoroughly dominated the Frenchman in all but one of their 11 meetings.
Not only has Nadal beaten Gasquet every time they've faced one another since their first match in 2003, but the powerful 27-year-old hasn't dropped a set against Gasquet since 2008.
Now, after surrendering just one set through his first five matches, Nadal should advance to take on Djokovic in what would be a thrilling conclusion to a very unpredictable tournament.
Prediction: As to be expected, Nadal will overpower the 27-year-old French challenger, who has just one previous Grand Slam semifinal appearance to his name. Nadal's been unstoppable so far, and that won't change in the semifinal, but Gasquet will prove to be at least a somewhat formidable foe. 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
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