The men's quarterfinals start today. The Big Three: Check. The world's number four, five, six, seven, and eight: Nope. So while these last rounds will probably turn out to be entirely predictable, the rest of the quarterfinlas should produce some very entertaining tennis. The non Big Three players are live-dogs, and it's all well worth watching. The absence of Murray helps Djokovic the most, as they were scheduled to meet in the semifinals, and with Murray defeating Djokovic last week in Dubai, it has to be a relief to the top ranked Serb.
Novak Djokovic vs. Nicolas Almagro
Gilles Simon vs. John Isner
Juan Martin del Potro vs. Roger Federer
David Nalbandian vs. Rafael Nadal
Nicolas Almagro has had a very successful week, defeating Tomas Berdych in the round of 16 and generally playing some of the best tennis he has all year. He has a great opportunity against Djokovic, especially with Djokovic needing three sets to put away unheralded Spaniard Pablo Andujar in the round of 16. Djokovic still has to be the favorite here, given his recent run and general domination of the game, but Almagro has the ability to make his life miserable, and in a best of three match, potentially steal one from the world number one.
John Isner has been quietly slashing through the draw, not dropping a set. Gilles Simon has been much less quiet, being taken to three dramatic sets by Ryan Harrison and Dudi Sela before winning. He also defeated Stan Wawrinka, and now he gets Isner. This is a classic puncher vs counterpuncher match-up, and any rally longer than three balls should favor the Frenchman Simon, but Isner, especially in two out of three matches, has a way of winning these. The relatively early start time yesterday and this being the late match should help the last remaining American in the draw.
The del Potro- Federer match is the marquee quarterfinal. Both major winners, they have played quite a bit over the years. Since the 2009 US Open final, Federer has beaten del Potro every time, but they have been very competitive. Del Potro is playing very well, and Federer has been suffering from an awful head-cold, so this should be very interesting. Federer struggled against Tomas Bellucci in the round of 16, and if he plays like that again del Potro won't let him off. Then again, Federer has played his best against del Potro in the past, so this is up for grabs.
David Nalbandian is on the comeback trail, and he took a huge step in defeating world number six Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 16, but now he gets Rafael Nadal. No one had defeated Nadal but Djokovic recently, and I don't see Nalbandian doing that. It should be enetertaining, and Nalbandian has the smoothest backhand on tour, but Nadal is Nadal.
Quarterfinals: Djokovic def. Almagro, Isner def. Simon, Federer def. del Potro, Nadal def. Nalbandian
Semifinals: Isner def. Djokovic, Nadal def. Federer
Final: Nadal def. Isner