The men's singles semifinals take place Saturday at the U.S. Open. No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic will take on No. 9 seed Stanislas Wawrinka in the first match, followed by No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal taking on No. 8 Richard Gasquet. It promises to be an exciting day of tennis as the best of the best try and punch their ticket to Monday's finals and a Grand Slam trophy.
Djokovic figures to have the tougher time on Saturday, though he is heavily favored. He's been blazing through his competition this tournament, but doesn't matchup with Wawrinka as Nadal does with Gasquet. Djokovic has had a great run thus far, dropping just one set as he had to go four to take down Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals.
His strong run comes after a somewhat disappointing year, given that he lost to Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final and dropped a five-set semifinal loss to Nadal in the French Open back in May. But rather than let that get to him, he's responded by looking far and away the best player in the field this year.
Wawrinka, to his credit, has some impressive wins to his name thus far. Wawrinka managed to take down No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych in four sets in the round of 16, and absolutely dominated No. 3 seed Andy Murray, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for Wawrinka, he's dropped his last 11 matches against Djokovic, and has only won two of the 15 matches betwen the two. The last time the two met, however, Wawrinka pushed Djokovic big time. He took the fourth set at the Austrlian Open in the fourth round, winning a narrow tiebreak, but eventually lost the fifth set at 10-12.
Wawrinka would have to play an absolutely perfect game to get past Djokovic right now. It's not impossible, but it's also not very likely.
For Nadal, his matchup with Gasquet seems a lot less ... competitive. That's because Gasquet has never beaten Nadal as a professional. He has lost all 10 matches the two have played together. Nadal has won 23 of their 27 sets, and has won 14 sets in a row.
Gasquet does have some other momentum going for him, though. He could be playing exceedingly well due to the fact that this is his first semifinal Grand Slam appearance since 2007, and only his second ever. He also recently bested David Ferrer, the No. 4 seed in the tournament. Gasquet did have to squeak by Ferrer, though, going up two sets and then dropping the next two to force a fifth.
That's two consecutive five-set matches for Gasquet, who has battled with stamina issues in the past. Nadal can go all day so long as he's healthy, so he'd have to play a very complete match from the get-go to try and prevent this one from going five sets. He can't depend on Nadal falling behind and being unable to recover from a mental standpoint, either.
If Gasquet can't hold his serve, then this one is over before it starts. He's traditionally a very technically-sound server, but if he can't keep Nadal from seeing the break points, he'll fall. Either way, smart money is on both Nadal and Djokovic advancing on Saturday.