The quarter finals of the men’s singles at the US Open will be set after Monday’s play in New York, with round four completing today.
It was one winner and one where I opted for the wrong option of two on Sunday when Novak Djokovic comfortably secured the ‘sure thing’ with a 3-0 win over Kyle Edmund, but Lucas Pouille did much more than the one set I expected of him.
Those on the +2.5 sets on Pouille would have collected within half an hour, but despite having played two previous five setters the Frenchman won another one with a stunning win over Rafa Nadal.
That was one worth staying up for and certainly the best match of the men’s event so far for me, but the weathermen got it wrong again yesterday, as the storm warnings proved wide of the mark.
Again the forecasters are saying it’ll be a day that will see 30mph winds in Flushing and that being the case it’ll be tricky for those on Armstrong.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Ilya Marchenko
Wawrinka was within a point of defeat against Britain’s Dan Evans in round three, but surely the Swiss won’t have quite so many problems against the Ukrainian.
This one should have been a popcorn match between Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios, but yet again the latter’s body let him down and he was forced to retire against Marchenko after leading the match.
So, it’s with some fortune that Marchenko finds himself at the fourth round stage of a major for the first time, but his chances appear slim against the number three seed.
He’s 1-6 versus top-10 opponents in his career, with the sole victory coming over an on the slide David Ferrer earlier this season in Doha and he doesn’t have any real weapons with which to worry the Swiss.
Evans utilised his cross court backhand slice very well to keep Wawrinka’s own backhand quiet and he came into net a fair few times as well, but that isn’t really Marchenko’s game and he’ll look to beat Stan from the baseline.
There wasn’t one single net approach in Marchenko’s win over Damir Dzumhur from either player in round two, while Evans came to net 63 times against Wawrinka and won 41 points there.
Wawrinka defeated Marchenko earlier this season on slow outdoor hard at Indian Wells and didn’t face a break point and I can’t see a hugely different result here either.
Unless Stan has a poor day (which is always possible) a straight sets win seems likely here and 3-0 to him at 1.82 is today’s ‘sure thing’.
Kei Nishikori vs Ivo Karlovic
The Japanese star has a fine record against big servers of late, with 15 wins from his last 18 matches against the ones in my database and Karlovic would have to serve brilliantly to win this one.
It would seem that today won’t be an easy day for serving if the forecast wind speeds are correct and in any case I’m never too keen on Karlovic’s game over the best of five sets.
For me he’s more of an impact player, who can beat the better players with his serve over two quick sets and if we look at his record over the shorter format we see he’s beaten top-10 opponents 16 times in a 16-42 record (36 percent wins).
In best-of-five set matches he’s 4-12 (32 percent wins) and on hard courts in majors he’s 0-6 versus top-10 opposition and he’s only ever taken five sets in total in those half dozen matches.
Surely the veteran Croat’s only chance of winning a set lies in a tie break, but it’s the Japanese that has much the better all-time tie break record at main level, with 62.4 percent wins to the 49.2 percent of Karlovic.
To emphasise the lack of success of Karlovic in majors this is the first time since making his debut here back in 2003 that he’s made the fourth round and it’s hard to see him getting further unless Kei’s injury jinx strikes again.
The 1.72 about Nishikori coming out on top -4.5 games on the handicap looks the one for me here, with Kei holding a fine 27.1 percent break of serve mark this season on outdoor hard and with a great record against this sort of opponent.
Sure thing: Back Wawrinka to beat Marchenko 3-0 at 1.82
Value bet: Back Nishikori -4.5 games to beat Karlovic at 1.72