Previewing Djokovic-Murray and more U.S. Open quarterfinals predictions
NEW YORK -- The men's quarterfinals kick off on Wednesday at the U.S. Open, highlighted by a Big Four clash between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. On the women's side, we could see a rematch of last year's final if Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka can fend off the upsets.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 9 Andy Murray (second night match, Arthur Ashe Stadium): Never have these two friends, born just a week apart, played as early as the quarterfinal round at a Grand Slam tournament. Djokovic leads the head-to-head 12-8 and won their only 2014 meeting, a 7-5, 6-3 victory at the Sony Open in March. The big question is whether Murray has sorted out his mid-match wobbles to make this a compelling match. Aside from his first-round win over Robin Haase, which took four sets and saw Murray struggle with cramping, the 2012 champion has looked sharp. His straight-set takedown of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round was particularly impressive, as Murray hit 45 winners to 18 unforced errors in his best performance of the summer.
Prediction: Djokovic in 4.
No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 12 Flavia Pennetta (first night match, Arthur Ashe Stadium): New York never fails to bring out the best in Pennetta. Five of her six quarterfinal appearances at the Slams have come here, and she was a semifinalist last year, when she lost to Azarenka. But her run likely ends against Williams. The Italian has taken only one set off Williams in five matches (Pennetta retired down 0-4 in one of them). If Pennetta can't make her first serves, Williams will prey on her soft second serve, which averages around 75 mph. Williams has not dropped a set in the tournament. I don't think she'll drop one here.
Prediction: Williams in 2.
Prediction: Wawrinka in 3.
No. 17 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 18 Ekaterina Makarova (not before 12:30 p.m., Arthur Ashe Stadium): Makarova took out Eugenie Bouchard in the fourth round and comes into her fifth career Slam quarterfinal having not lost a set. Bidding to reach her first major semifinal, her summer form suggests that she's more than capable of advancing here. Azarenka leads their head-to-head 3-2 and has won their two hard-court encounters, but this is their first meeting this season. The injury-plagued Azarenka has been rounding into form with each match she's played in New York, but this will be her first match against a seeded player.