U.S. Open R3 preview and pick: Nadal vs. Dodig

Rafael Nadal is back in action at the U.S. Open on Saturday as he faces Ivan Dodig. A place in the fourth round and a possible showdown with John Isner is at stake.

Rafael Nadal and Ivan Dodig will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in round three of the U.S. Open on Saturday afternoon. Dodig is one of the few players on tour without a losing record against Nadal. He toppled the Spaniard 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in their most recent meeting at the 2011 Toronto Masters. They had previously squared off a few months earlier on the clay courts of Barcelona, where Nadal rolled 6-3, 6-2.

Another Dodig upset would, of course, be even more shocking right now. After all, Nadal is the undisputed best player in the world at the moment and the run-away 2013 race leader. The 12-time Grand Slam champion dominated the clay-court swing and he is even undefeated on the hard stuff with titles in Indian Wells, Montreal, and Cincinnati. So far in New York, Nadal has made mincemeat out of Ryan Harrison and Rogerio Dutra Silva.

Dodig may be more consistent in doubles than he is on the singles circuit, but he has posted some decent results of late. In fact, the veteran Croat registers just six spots off his career-high ranking at No. 38 in the world thanks in part to a semifinal showing in Eastbourne and a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon. Dodig, clearly a dangerous player on fast surfaces, booked his spot in the last 32 with defeats of Fernando Verdasco (in five sets) and Nikolay Davydenko (in straights).

This could be competitive for a while with Dodig in relatively confident form and armed with belief from his past performance against Nadal. However, the underdog had not been stellar on American hard courts prior to this fortnight and there is no reason to think he will serve well enough from start to finish in order to seriously scare Nadal–and serving unbelievably well is Dodig’s only hope of truly making this interesting.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 8-10 games

26 Comments on U.S. Open R3 preview and pick: Nadal vs. Dodig

  1. On-court Interview:

    Rafa: “I started the match with a high intensity. I lost to Ivan the last time we played in Montreal and he won two hard matches here against Fernando Verdasco, a lefty like me, and Nikolay Davydenko. I think I played my best match of the week so far today. This court is very special. I have many unforgettable memories of this court so thank you for making me feel like I am at home.
    “I have to improve a little bit of everything to keep going in the second week.
    “To win matches if you are not playing your best, it’s impossible.”

      • Pity he blew the lead when he looked to have Tommy on the ropes. Had it gone to five sets………………….Oh well, a huge learning curve for young Danny. Eccentric and unorthodox but so refreshing to watch.

        Do you reckon he has what it takes to rise up through the ranks?

  2. They didn’t show the Robredo/Evans match today. There was so much else going on and when the networks take over exclusive coverage on the weekends, it’s so much about the American players.

    Kohls played really well against Isner. He will give Rafa a good match. This will be the first decent player Rafa will face. It’s time to step up a notch.

    I didn’t remember that Kohls beat Isner here last year in the third round. I think they said it was one of the longest matches ever played. So he is like Isner’s kryptonite. I remember Kohls getting some good wins against Delpo with a bunch of close sets and tb’s. He really came out focused and served well, groundstrokes were sharp and good nerves against the big serving guy. I do love that shbh!

  3. Rafa says he has to improve a little bit of everything…not sure what much can he improve. He is playing great, IMO

  4. Rafa’s post-match interview on August 31 (full transcript):

    Rafa says he needs to serve a little bit better.
    An excerpt:
    —RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t felt that I was serving great that first three days. That’s the real thing. I served okay, not bad. First day I didn’t serve very well. Second day and third day I was able to play a little bit better. In important moments I did a few good serves, but I am winning because I am playing well from the baseline and I am making the right decisions in the right moments. It’s something I am going to work a little bit more tomorrow. I need to serve a little bit better, and I hope I gonna do good.—

    • Strange, I felt his serve has been excellent so far and his forehand, especially in the Dodig match, has been a little suspect.

      • Fed is also rolling over his opponents

        I’m scared a bit for Rafa about Fed

        Fed plays like an underdog no pressure against Rafa n can come out n swing freely n faster hard courts of uso are his fav

        I was never worried about isner for Rafa

    • Fed didn’t play well against Manny, he even managed 20 UEs in a match that was being handed to him on a plate.

  5. I also thought that Rafa’s serving could improve. It’s been good enough but Rafa knows that this was against players who really couldn’t challenge him. He always knows what has to be done as he gets into the crucial second week of this tournament.

    I think Rafa’s groundstrokes are brilliant. There is depth and accuracy. I want to see Rafa going for the dtl backhand and cc backhand. He has a few more gears in him. I think he is going to only get better as he moves along.


    You always worry about Rafa and upcoming opponents. You have to remember who Fed is playing right now. These players are not Rafa! Now it’s true that Rafa hasn’t been challenged yet either. I think that Kohls will be good preparation for the quarterfinal match with Fed. He will push Rafa enough to make him raise his level of play. I think that Rafa needs a bit of a challenge before Fed.

    As far a pressure, I don’t see that Rafa has any pressure. He can only gain points with each round. The pressure is what he puts on himself. He wants to win this tournament. If Rafa had not won Montreal and Cincy. no one would consider him a favorite to win the USO.

    I do think Fed has pressure. He wants to gain points and move back up in the rankings. No way does he want to sit at #7. He has been losing points all year. He has only one title. Fed has the pressure of his own expectations and his legacy of greatness.

    I have said that I think it will be a tough match. Fed did find some answers in the quarterfinal match with Rafa at Cincy. He is going to come out to win the match. But Rafa will have his own tactics and will be ready.

    • any chance on earth that robredo will push Fed n stretch him officers I know he won’t beat Fed but any chance of 4 or 5 sets

      • Robredo was troubled by a problem with his left leg last night. Had the trainer on the court several times and in the final stages of the match was limping. Dont know how bad it was but he had to work hard very hard for the win and looked knackered at the end. Roger’s match was a doddle so little hope of Tommy stretching him for more than a game or two.

        NNY is right, Kolbi will be a good warm up match for Rafa. Maybe even four sets.

  6. Although Khols is a much better all round player than Izzy, Izzy’s game is difficult to plan for and play against. Khols’ game is more conventional and therefore easier to plan against. He will give Rafa rhythm and thus practice his ground strokes more. I am calmer about Khols. He may break Rafa’s serve but he is not beating Rafa.

    I am relaxed about Fed. Fed is the one with the pressure, a lot to prove. If Rafa beats I’m then the H2H is sealed, his fans cannot even use the “Fed is better on HC” argument. Fed has compounded the pressure on hi self by coming out after he beat the French guy that it was Rafa’s fault they had never played each other in NY. Well, if Rafa beats him, what next will he say, that he is too old?

    Rafa knows what is at stake. A win over Fed assures him a finals berth, no way is he losing to whoever in the semis. A win over Fed completes the “Fed Slam” ie, Rafa will have beaten Fed at all the Slams, chipping away at the GOAT status. A win over Fed brings him closer to #1. He may not attain it at the US Open, but the year end surely.

    Having said this, Fed is playing the best tennis I have ever seen him play, even in the weak era. He also knows what is at stake and will bring it………


    • Sorry why is it Rafa fault that fedal never happened in newyork

      Has Fed forgotten 2010 n 2011 wer he blew 2 match points in semis I think they both r at fault Rafa in 08 n 09 n Fed in 10 n 11

      I don’t care if he beats Fed in 3 4 or 5 as long as he beats him

      • One would think by now Fed has learnt his lesson: trash talking does not work against Rafa but no, he has to go there! Benito will tell Rafa all this prior to their match and Rafa will be even more fired up, not that he needs extra incentive. Let Fed serenade the journos in the press room, Rafa will do his talking on court.

        This is no disrespect to Khols who I think will give Rafa a good competitive match. I just do not think he has enough to beat Rafa.

  7. I agree with ed about Robredo. They didn’t show the match here in the states on tv, but I heard that he was injured. In fact, when Fed was interviewed on court after his win over Mannarino, he mentioned it. I bet he is relieved that Robredo won’t be a big threat. Fed needs the easy wins now to conserve his energy. Rafa is the one who thrives on tough matches. I do think that Kohls will give him a good match. Rafa is ready for a test. He needs to be pushed a little. It will bring out his best. Kohls is much better preparation for Fed.

    As far as worrying about Fed in the quarterfinals, now that Isner is out of the picture I am not going to stress out. I did not want Rafa to play Isner and Fed back-to-back. Now it won’t happen. I expect the match with Fed to be another competitive one like in Cincy. There is a lot on the line for both Rafa and Fed.

    I agree with ritb that the real semifinal is the quarterfinal match. No matter who gets through to the semis in that part of the draw, they will not beat Rafa. What are the possibilities now? Ferrer? He can’t beat Rafa in a slam and especially a Rafa in this kind of form. Raonic? No way! Tipsy? Please! There is no one left who can be a threat in the semis. So a win in the quarterfinal is a ticket to the final. Djoker and Murray will most likely be slugging it out in the other semi.

    I do think that Fed is playing well, but we know very well that how well he plays against everyone else doesn’t mean much against Rafa. I think Fed is going to put it all on the line in that match. He was very aggressive against Mannarino. But that guy did not have the game to hang with Fed.

    Both Rafa and Fed have had pretty easy draws. Rafa’s early rounds turned out to be not as nerve wracking as they have been in the past. That’s because he is playing so well in the first week of this slam. I want to see how Rafa handles Kohls. I want him to get tested a bit, so that he can go up another gear.

    I have to believe that the quarterfinal match with Rafa and Fed will be at night. The atmosphere will be out of this world!

  8. My internet connection was so slow yesterday I couldn’t join in the cheering during the match. Rafa is playing well, his level did drop after the first set but not enough for Dodig to do any damage.

    It was very quiet here during Rafa’s match against D-Silva so I’m surprised to see so many of you turn up for this one. I guess it’s a lot to do with time zones.

    My prayers were answered – Isner is OUT. Thank you, Philipp!

  9. Rafa’s interview to SkySports (a lot of fun):

    Commentator: We were wondering, who’d you rather play [Kohlschreiber or Isner]. We expeceted you were possible cheering on the German.
    Rafa: I will not say. [Laughing].
    Commentator: Come on! You know you don’t want to play the Empire State Building. [Rafa laughed]

  10. No preview and picks for today’s matches 🙁

    Guess Berdych is on his way to the QFs. He’s picked up his game a lot since Kudla gave him a fright on Friday.

  11. Murray has the match under control BUT he has reverted to the old ‘I’ve been dragged out of bed to play tennis’ mode. You would never guess he was the defending champion 🙁

  12. ‘I’ve been dragged out of bed to play tennis’ mode hahahaha…that was funny ed..this is indeed the case with andy ! He just cant be fully focused against easier opponents…He will be fully ready for berdych/wawa and esp djokovic though ! Come on andy! My dream final here would be andy vs rafa !

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