By Jake Davies

  • The Men’s semi-finals take place on Friday at Flushing Meadows
  • Novak Djokovic [1] vs Gael Monfils [10]
  • Stan Wawrinka [3] vs Kei Nishikori [6]
NEW YORK, USA – Novak Djokovic may have coasted through to the semi-finals but can Gael Monfils upset the odds, while Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori do battle for the other final spot.

 

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Novak Djokovic [1] vs Gael Monfils [10] H2H: Djokovic leads 12-0

The World No.1, Djokovic, has had a rather peculiar route to the semi-finals of this year’s US Open. He has played just two complete matches, having received a walkover and two retirements in his other three matches.

Djokovic has not had a great amount of matches since the Olympics, but this has allowed him to recover properly from a wrist injury that has bothered him in recent weeks. Monfils, who is yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament, has given himself the best chance to challenge the World No.1 in Friday’s semi-final match.

The new-and-improved Monfils has ascended up the rankings with the assistance of Mikael Tillstrom, a coach from the Good to Great Academy, and that has largely been due to his transformation in mentality on the tennis court. Tillstrom has helped Monfils in concentrating on the big points and instilling primary focus during those points, which is something that Monfils did not necessarily do during the previous years on tour.

This will be an enthralling match up. It is not very often that you can say that a player can match the defensive capabilities that the World No.1 Djokovic presents on a tennis court but Monfils can do just that. Just like Djokovic, Monfils can make offensive shots from defensive positions of the court and that makes him a serious threat coming into this match.

Djokovic should come through this match, but for Monfils to make it a contest, he has to serve at the peak of his powers. Djokovic is renowned for an immense return game, but it often gets overlooked at how sneaky good his first serve can be, because of the prowess of his returning.

Djokovic was only 17 years old when Monfils got his only victory over the Serbian – that was in a Futures event in 2004. I think Djokovic will neutralise some of Monfils’ biggest strengths and demand too much consistency from the Frenchman.

Prediction: Djokovic in four sets

 

Kei Nishikori [6] vs Stan Wawrinka [3] H2H: Wawrinka leads 3-2

A major breakthrough occurred for Nishikori against the World No.2 Andy Murray as he delivered a five set stunner to advance to the semi-finals, but Wawrinka also had an impressive victory of his own.

No-one really knew what level of tennis Wawrinka would produce during this fortnight after a very patchy number of weeks and a serious back issue that halted his Olympics. After a serious scare against Dan Evans in the third round, Wawrinka has rebounded with impressive victories over Illya Marchenko and Juan Martin Del Potro.

Nishikori beat three Top 10 players en route to the US Open 2014 final: No.5 seed Milos Raonic, No.3 seed Wawrinka and No.1 seed Djokovic. In order for the Japanese star to win his first ever major he may have to blast past three Top 10 players in a row once again.

Wawrinka leads the H2H 3-2, but they are tied at 2-2 in hard court meetings. The two players played a classic at the Open in 2014, which went to five sets and I expect more of the same in their semi-final on Friday.

Wawrinka hits the ball a lot heavier than Murray and I think Nishikori will prefer the delivery of Wawrinka’s groundstrokes. Nishikori enjoys feeding off the pace and redirecting the ball from inside the baseline.

Another key factor to this match will be whether Wawrinka can make the most of Nishikori’s slow second serve. Wawrinka is not necessarily known for a great return of serve but will need to capitalise on the weakness of his opponent, if he is going to come out the winner in this semi-final.

Prediction: Nishikori in 5 sets.

 

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