Roger Federer vs. Gael Monfils
The Swiss has been cruising along in his first four matches, barely breaking a sweat and dominating his rallies. Federer has gone up against more dangerous players early on in previous years, but he usually got through, anyway, and once he reached the quarterfinals, he was raring to go, winning five straight US Open titles from 2004-08.
However, Federer eventually began to ease up, largely because as he grew older he wasn't quite as fast. He reached two semis here against Novak Djokovic in 2010 and 2011 and fell in both matches 7-5 in the fifth sets. In 2012, he finally fell in a quarter, losing to a high-flying Tomas Berdych. In 2013, a charging Tommy Robredo stunned Federer in the fourth round.
But this has been different in New York, as Federer isn’t hurt or unsettled. That is why Federer should look very comfortable when he enters against Gael Monfils, whom he leads 7-2 in head-to-head matches. Monfils has been playing terrific, but can he win three sets when he’s cracking from way back behind the baseline? Perhaps, given how fast he is, but I doubt it. Federer will mix and match and make sure that he can wait and buy his time until he smokes the balls. He has to take over the net and make sure he can return the numerous serves that Monfils will bomb away.
The Frenchman is a heck of a lot of fun to watch, but Federer will win three out of five and reach the semifinals.
Tomas Berdych vs. Marin Cilic
It was hard to figure out how good Berdych would be during the tournament, as the tall Czech has been up and down this year, and he really hasn't been spectacular since February. But the solid and strong Berdych has played much better in New York, whacking balls and not being afraid. Berdych is a very big hitter, and the guy has gone deep into Slams before.
This time he will go up against Marin Cilic, a Croatian who once reached a major semifinal at the Australia Open and is more creative these days. Here at the US Open, Cilic showed a lot of heart, overcoming No. 18 Kevin Anderson and No. 26 Gilles Simon. The 25 year old is coached by Goran Ivanisevic, a former Wimbledon winner who has helped him to become stronger—both mentally and physically. It has taken a while, but Cilic was willing to attack against the better foes, and he upset Berdych in the third round of Wimbledon this year.
The Czech did smoke the Croatian in the final of Rotterdam in February, so this match should be very close. Both can bomb big serves, and both can own their ferocious forehands and take over the net when they are feeling right. Berdych would love to go far, but Cilic now believes in himself again and will pull off the victory in four sets.