US Open Semifinal Previews: Nadal vs Berrettini; Medvedev vs Dimitrov

US Open Semifinal Previews: Nadal vs Berrettini; Medvedev vs Dimitrov

The 33-year-old Spaniard is bidding for his fourth crown while the other three are into their first semifinals in New York.

Daniil Medvedev vs. Grigor Dimitrov

Game-wise, this will be smooth versus funky. Dimitrov patterned his playing style, right down to the service stance, on Roger Federer’s, while Medvedev doesn’t seem to have patterned his on anything that has come before. If the appeal of Dimitrov and Federer is that they make everything look easy, Medvedev’s appeal is enhanced because he makes everything look hard. With his strokes, and at his towering, gangly height, you can’t quite believe his shots are going to be as good as they are. But his summer of wins—he’s 19-2 since Wimbledon—has shown that he’s at the top of the sport to stay.

Medvedev and Dimitrov have split their two meetings, both of which took place in 2017. Dimitrov obviously had a breakthrough win over Roger Federer in his last round. Now the question is: Will that make him feel, finally, that he can beat anyone and win anything? Or will he suffer the letdown that so many other Federer conquerors have suffered before? The question for Medvedev concerns his health: Will his left quadriceps, which he pulled against Wawrinka, be OK? We’ve been waiting for his body to fall apart for about a month now, and he’s still going strong. Winner: Medvedev

Rafael Nadal vs. Matteo Berrettini

Nadal says Berrettini is a young player who is “making big steps every week.” But the 23-year-old, 24th-seeded Italian has outdone himself over these last two weeks by reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal, with little of the hype and hoopla that have greeted the ascensions of his fellow Next Genners. Berrettini is still something of an unknown quantity to most fans, and maybe even to Nadal, who has yet to face him. But his game includes some of the elements that often give Rafa trouble: He can serve in the 130-m.p.h. range, he can control points with his forehand, and he knows how to move forward and finish rallies. He also doesn’t seem scared of the stage. My question is: How good is Berrettini’s backhand? He has a two-hander, which helps against Rafa, but in this matchup he’ll need to be able to take the ball on the rise and punish it. Berrettini has the game to give Nadal a run, but with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer out of the tournament, Rafa must feel like this Slam is his to lose—i.e., win. “Now is the time to keep going,” he said after his last match. Winner: Nadal

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