U.S. Open R3 previews and predictions: Federer vs. Lopez, Nadal vs. Mayer

Roger Federer and, to a lesser extent, Rafael Nadal have looked far from invincible through two rounds of the U.S. Open. The top two favorites will try to pick up the pace as play hits Labor Day Weekend on Saturday, when they have respective meetings with Feliciano Lopez and Leonardo Mayer.

(31) Feliciano Lopez vs. (3) Roger Federer

During second-round action at the U.S. Open on Thursday afternoon, Federer faced a 35-year-old opponent against whom he had been 16-0 lifetime. The story heading into Saturday night is a similar one: on the other side of the net is a 35-year-old who is 0-12 against Federer. That would be Lopez, who is a hopeless 0-19 in the last 19 sets of this matchup. But the 35th-ranked Spaniard should take heart from the fact that Mikhail Youzhny turned in his best-ever showing against Federer in the form of a competitive 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 loss. Frances Tiafoe also pushed the Swiss to five in the opening round, so it is clear to everyone–Lopez included–that Federer is vulnerable.

Lopez, meanwhile, avoided any five-setters en route to the last 32. He took care of Andrey Kuznetsov in four before doing the same with countryman and former doubles partner Fernando Verdasco. The back-to-back victories were much-needed for Lopez, who had been a mere 2-5 in his last seven matches since capturing the Queen’s Club title. As for Saturday’s showdown, Lopez will not have too much say in the outcome. The analysis is straightforward: if Federer is close to 100 percent, he wins; if he is anything like he was against Youzhny, he loses. Through two rounds, there appears to be little hope that he is close to 100 percent.

Pick: Lopez in 4

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (LL) Leonardo Mayer

For once it is Federer who is struggling physically whereas Nadal is enjoying perfect health. The Spaniard’s problems, however, can be found in the surface. He has not won a Grand Slam away from the French Open since 2013 and he compiled a disappointing 6-3 record in his three tournaments in between Roland Garros and the U.S. Open this summer. Nadal has avoided the kind of drama Federer has already endured in New York, but the world No. 1 still had to battle back from a set and a break down against Taro Daniel to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday night.

Next up for Nadal on Saturday afternoon is a fourth career contest against Mayer, who is 0-3 in the head-to-head series. The 30-year-old lost 6-1, 6-3 at the 2012 Indian Wells Masters, 6-1, 7-5 a season later in Acapulco, and 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 three years ago at Roland Garros. Mayer is ranked incredibly high (59th) for someone who played in qualifying, but his rise came after the U.S. Open entry deadline when he triumphed at the 500-point tournament in Hamburg. The Argentine suffered a bad loss to Maximilian Marterer but got in as a lucky loser before capitalizing on the opportunity with defeats of Richard Gasquet and Yuichi Sugita. The competition level ratchets up exponentially in the form of Nadal, who has owned Mayer in the past and should be confident having turned things around so well midway through his date with Daniel.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 8-10 games

25 Comments on U.S. Open R3 previews and predictions: Federer vs. Lopez, Nadal vs. Mayer

  1. If Fed keeps playing this way and finishes this in straights, I consider him as a pretty heavy favorite again. Back doesn’t seem to be affecting him at all.

  2. two love within less than one hour.
    wow Fed makes it look easy so far.

    if he continues like this, he will pass QF test

  3. Fed on absolute fire!! So glad to see him like this. He said he thought his back would free up as the tournament progressed and looks like he was right.

      • I thought of you a bunch of times during Fed’s match, Benny! I was definitely impressed with how well he served tonight. It seems like when he serves well, other things typically will follow. All in all, seeing Fed and Rafa play in the flesh, with the incredible atmosphere of Ashe Stadium, was everything I’d dreamed it would be. 🙂

        • Thanks Kev and yeah that is awesome. Nothing beats watching these guys live and up close. I saw Fed back in 2014 US Open from nosebleed seats in Ashe but what’s pleasantly surprising is that you can still see the ball well from up there!! Never have seen Rafa though that is quite incredible you got to see both in one day and both in good form winning too!!

  4. I hope Fed’s win now will spur Rafa on to do better vs Dolgo; no more early match wobbling for Rafa, now that he’s into the second week and opponents getting tougher to beat.

    I didn’t watch Fed’s match but I always feel Feli will bow down to Fed as usual; Kohl will be a bit tougher but not good enough to beat Fed. Unless Fed has his wobbling again, I expect him to reach the SF (Delpo and Thiem not playing well enough to beat Fed imo).

  5. Can’t understand why Rafa would be nervous against Mayer, he’s played him before, knows his game, has beaten him bofore comfortably.

    I can understand him getting the yips against Taro Daniels, it was the first time playing him, needed time to figure his game out but Mayer?

  6. As I suspected, Fed just needed to play into a bit of form. As long as his back is ok -and I didn’t see any sign otherwise against Feli- Fed will be very hard to beat here.

    • I told everyone not to panic, even some of Roger Federer fans here, R. Federer is one of my favourites and i know he will win the title but some of Federer fans are doubting him, that’s disappointing.

      I really like R. Nadal and i mean it but Roger Federer will win his 3rd Slam this year.

  7. As I said, Fed would have much easier time with Feli with short points and S&V game from Feli. I also said that Fed’s back was not acting up and that the reason for his lousy game in the first two matches was Fed being tired from overplay. I would add now ” not ready to play long rallies”…Fed just loves matches like this where he doesn’t need to hit more than 3 times most of the match! His brilliant serving showed he has no lingering injury. He said it himself but people failed to believe him.

    Kohls will be annoying to Fed as Fed will get an extra ball back to him, But Fed will handle him! The old man is tired hense his inexplicable errors but he will still be winning his matches that’s how good Maestro is!

    BTW, most of Fed’s five-setters are shorter than Rafa’s four setters and Rafa seems so far to spend much longer time on court…

    • so natashao..do you see Rafa reaching semis against Dolgo sand maybe Goffin/rubulev later?

      how do you see the Rafa/Fed semi panning out if it happens?

      • Rafa seems to have nervous start in all his matches now and I believe the trend will continue due to Rafa doubts about his own game and lack of confidence thereof. However, we have to bear in mind that what Rafa fears the most are big serving machines and strong flat hittters, the type of players the favorable draw allowed him to avoid this time. That’s mainly why Rafa gains confidence mid match, showing strong fighting spirit and believing he would win in the end! We witness two Rafas on the court: the early one who is aware of his error prone FHs and difficulties on ROS but once he breaks his opponent he suddenly starts playing better and his FHs gain precision. I would not say Rafa lacks either form or that his level is not high. It’s only Rafa not trusting his game on fast courts and especially indoor conditions. TBs are the big indication of Rafa not being confident enough…

        I expect Dolgo to be challenging for Rafa, probably for one set and a half. The crucial thing is for Rafa to win the second set and to try to wear Dolgo down. I think Rafa’s fitness is so essential for his matches and it will be of key importance for his possible matchup with either Goffin or Rublev!

        I do not like to think ahead when Rafa is concerned because we all know that it’s always on Rafa’s racquet and if he plays badly he could lose to anyone these days mainly because Rafa being perfectionist himself gets doubtful when his game is not perfect and loses focus and mental strength in key moments. However, again, avoiding big hitters in this USO and playing opponents where Rafa can construct the points works in Rafa favor…

        Rafa is honest with the public and he said it the right way: he would not like to see Fed on the other side of the net in the semis. However, if Rafa finetuned his game to reach the semis this Rafa will be strong opposition for Maestro!

        BTW, I will in in NY for the semis…?

  8. anyone knows what will the weather be say on Monday Wednesday and Saturday for Rafas matches? Sun smiling or all covered/indoor?

  9. I’m glad Rafa DID show his fighting spirit, showed us he really wanted to win, and not to lose meekly. His actions ( fist pumping, lawn mowing fist pumping), let us know his strong desire to win and the joy of winning the match in the end.

    I was wrong about him (that I said he didn’t fight hard enough to turn the match around). Rafa needs to improve his BP conversion which is poor by any standard. Mayer wasn’t playing that well but Rafa had to take so long to overcome him!

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