Predicted Winners in BOLD
Marin CILIC vs. Juan Martin DEL POTRO – At the 2010 Australian Open, Cilic won a 5 set match over Delpo that seemed to draw battlelines for a coming decade of big man tennis. These are the two best practitioners of Big Man tennis in my view. When healthy, each can paralyze opponents and win by dictating play. Each man has a US Open title (Delpo 2009 & Cilic 2014), Delpo has 2 olympic medals in singles, and Cilic just won a Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati. Both men are listed at 198 cm and play a right-handed two-handed powerbaseline game. Who would have thought Marc Rosset was onto something with being taller than most yet rallying from the backcourt? Cilic has had a better year than JMDP based upon his titles in Cincinnati and Basel. Delpo leads their head-to-head 8-2, but they have not played since Del Potro’s most recent comeback began earlier this year. I think Cilic will dictate play often enough to keep Delpo’s forehand from deciding the match. If stamina and backhands are the keys, Cilic has an edge. Throw in a partisan crowd, and I see Cilic in 4 sets. JMDP does seem to have extra strength when playing for Argentina (see Rio 2016) and Cilic lost a 2 sets lead vs. the US in Davis Cup earlier this year so it could be an instant classic.
Ivo KARLOVIC vs. Federico DELBONIS – This match is quite tricky to predict. If Delpo wins the 4th match, will Croatia be deflated? Can Delbonis break Karlovic? Will the crowd will Croatia to victory if it is close? If Delbonis can hold serve, he could shock the world and deliver a deciding point to Croatia, but I again lean toward the home team. I think Karlovic wins in 4 or 5 sets if it comes to it.