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With the men's draw depleted from the start due to various reasons - pandemic-induced scheduling concerns (Rafa), injury (Roger) - it seemed Novak Djokovic was looking at his clearest run to a Grand Slam title yet. It would have been Grand Slam number 18... Would have been... but for his default and ultimate disqualification from the field.
On the women's side, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams - although she's struggled a bit so far this year - are no strangers to the biggest stages - leaving Jennifer Brady as the odd one out (by some margin, to be fair), although thus far she actually holds the best winning record in the 2020 US Open.
All players remaining have won five matches to get to the semi-finals. The data from these matches is very insightful, and can assist bettors in assessing both the future chances of each player as the tournament reaches the business end, but also which players are likely to carry over a high level to the regular tour, which moves towards clay courts for the remainder of September, in preparation for the French Open.
Various statistics for the men’s semi-finalists are listed below (sorted by combined service/return points won percentages).
*Time on court (minutes)
Here we can see that Daniil Medvedev leads the way in the vast majority of metrics. The Russian, after his straight-set win over countryman Andrey Rublev on Wednesday night, has the highest combined service/return points won in the men’s tournament so far.
Not only this, but he is yet to drop a set in the tournament, winning 15 from 15 so far - and 67.6% of games played, which places him top of the leaderboard in the games won percentage column.
Medvedev’s clash with Dominic Thiem on Friday not only features the two favourites, but also the two players remaining in the event with the generally best stats throughout the event so far. Thiem has dropped just the one set, and has a marginally lower games won percentage, and combined service/return points won percentage to get to this stage. It would appear the Austrian has well and truly recovered from his shock thrashing at the hands of Filip Krajinovic at the Western & Southern Open a couple weeks ago.
Statistically, it is tricky to make a strong case for either of the other two semi-finalists - Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno-Busta. Both have accumulated more court time - particularly Zverev, who has clocked up around four hours more time on court than Medvedev. Extra game time in a men’s Grand Slam, with the arduous best of five-set format, is never a positive - and unless Medvedev and Thiem play a four-hour plus epic tomorrow, they are likely to go into the final fresher than either Zverev or Carreno-Busta.
Carreno-Busta’s numbers to get to this stage aren’t hugely impressive for a Grand Slam semi-finalist, and of course, the Spaniard benefited from Novak Djokovic’s default in the first set of their fourth-round clash earlier this week. He also needed five sets to get the better of Yasutaka Uchiyama and Denis Shapovalov, which also won’t benefit him from an accumulated fatigue perspective.
Moving on to the women’s semi-finalists, the table below shows that three of the four are almost impossible to split from the combined service/return points won percentage accrued from their five matches so far.
*Time on court (minutes)
Jennifer Brady, Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka are all marginally above the 115% mark for this metric, with Serena Williams struggling to make an impression, with the worst return data of all four players to get to this stage. Williams has needed three sets to get to each of her last three wins, and her first two round victories over Margarita Gasparyan and Kristie Ahn remain her only straight-set victories since the tour resumed.
Given these three-set battles, it’s unsurprising to see Williams with more minutes played than any of the other players in the women’s singles - she’s played in excess of three hours more than Brady, who has won all of her 10 sets en route to the semis.
Brady is the only woman in the tournament who can boast a straight-sets path to this stage, with Azarenka dropping one set and Osaka, two. Brady and Azarenka, who have dropped the fewest sets, also have the highest games won percentage of the four remaining competitors. That may not bode too well for their respective semi-final opponents, Osaka and Williams...
But with Williams’ track record and illustrious winning past, the question now is whether she can find a way to dig deep and win yet another Grand Slam title. As mentioned above, her stats so far are relatively unimpressive compared to other contenders, but should she reach peak levels, could still be a favourite over any player in the field.
Cloudbet odds for US Open semifinals (at time of writing, subject to change)
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