- A Dull Beginning
Today started out about as dull as the weather was and there were two interruptions due to rain. I wasn’t very excited at all for what lied ahead, but as soon as the first two quarterfinals were out of the way things started improving. I started watching the Federer vs Simon match and as expected Simon provided very little resistance with his pushing game. Did people really think Simon would make this competitive on grass? The most exciting part of the entire match was when Federer dropped serve for the first time in the tournament when serving for the second set at 5-4.
And he dropped serve to love. But in no time Simon lost his serve again and Federer served out the second set 7-5. Federer ended up winning 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. I regret using this match as one of the predictions matches. Djokovic vs Cilic was much more unpredictable. But more about that later. In the other quarterfinal, Murray also defeated Pospisil in straight sets as expected, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. No explanation needed for why that was dull because just about all Murray’s matches are dull.
- The Dark Cloud Lifts
As soon as the first two quarterfinals were out of the way the weather and the tennis started improving. Djokovic put on a masterclass against Cilic defeating him 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Granted the opponent also played a role, but he was a different player from the uninspired player that played against Anderson. But that is Djokovic for you and why he is the best. He finds ways to get through matches despite not being at his best and plays his best tennis when it matters the most.
I think it has to do with the fact that Cilic is not as powerful as Anderson, but Djokovic was more effective in every area of his game. He looked in complete control all the way through whereas against Anderson he looked in dire trouble all the way through until Anderson choked in the fifth set. But that’s what champions do. If they are given a second chance they make it count! Today he made a believer out of me again as far as his grass court game goes. Against Anderson, he just looked very ineffective.
Today he was the aggressor. His serve did much more damage and he went after his groundstrokes. His returns were lethal again and his net game was good too. I think he struggles with the big power players, and luckily for him he won’t be facing one of them in Stan in the semi-finals. This is where things got really interesting today. This was also one of our prediction matches and as I warned in my last post could happen, Gasquet pulled off the upset 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
So the ones that were too afraid to risk didn’t get the reward. I wasn’t convinced about Stan as a grass courter before this match yet. He’s never been past the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and he had a cakewalk draw until the quarterfinals. As soon as he came up against a decent grass courter he got broken almost straight away in the first set. He recovered to the point where it looked like he would progress to the semis, but Gasquet broke in the fourth set to force a decider.
This is where things really started getting interesting. Gasquet broke early in the fifth, but being a mentally fragile player, he handed the break straight back. To his credit, he hung in long enough to get Stan at 0-40 on his serve again. It wasn’t the first time. He’d already had Stan at 0-40 on his serve and failed to break. And again he missed the first two break chances. Finally on the third match point, he made a Djokovic-like return which Stan couldn’t handle and that was that.
Every time Gasquet got in a winning position he became tentative so I wasn’t sure he had the balls to pull it off, but somehow he made that amazing return to clinch it in the nick of time. This is the kind of matches in slams that I love. Most people just assumed Stan would get it done, but he’s never really proven himself as a grass courter. Gasquet, on the other hand, had been to a Wimbledon semi before with a win over Roddick. If the Federer match was bad for a prediction match then this one was perfect.
- Semi-final Preview
So we are down to the last four and this is where things really get interesting. There is no doubt that Djokovic would have breathed a sigh of relief at not having to play Stan again after what transpired at the French. Not that he would have lost, but Stan has the heavy artillery which can bother Djokovic. Gasquet is also far from what I would call clutch. I think Djokovic deserves it anyway after having to play three days in a row in two consecutive slams now and having a tough draw.
Federer, for instance, had a cakewalk draw so far and faces his first decent opponent in Murray now. I don’t think having played two weaponless pushers was great preparation for Murray who was severely tested against the likes of Karlovic and I think that may help him against Federer. The only time Federer was tested if you could call it that was against Groth in that tie-break that he lost and he was quite poor in it. Again today against Simon he didn’t respond that well when serving for the second set dropping serve to love.
He has looked good so far, but against whom? You can only truly tell what kind of form he is in when he gets tested, and I’m pretty sure Murray can at least test him. He is good enough now to do that. It’s easy to school pushers but what happened against Groth when he was pushed to a tie-break? How will he respond in such a situation against Murray? It’s likely that Murray will win one of the first two sets. That’s already pressure in itself knowing your opponent is younger and you have a poor five set record against the big four.
Federer would want to win the first two sets to make Murray lose hope. If Murray wins one of the first two sets it could well become a long match and Federer does not want that. Also, he will know Djokovic could well wait in the final and even if he wins in five sets that could cost him the final. I don’t think the fact that Stan lost helps Federer’s chances for an eighth Wimbledon title. It’s not impossible that Djokovic could make quick work of Gasquet and arrive in the final very fresh.
It’s also not impossible that Federer could make quick work of Murray for that matter, or Gasquet defeating Djokovic! But I guess realistically Murray is a much-improved player recently. He has had a very consistent season and is well ahead of Federer in the race. The last time he played Federer on grass at the Olympics he defeated him in straight sets. So I don’t think he has any doubts that he can win. But he will have to be aggressive and play with belief.
If he plays like he doesn’t belong there with Federer he will lose. His attitude will be crucial. He will have to come out with the attitude that this is now his time and that he wants to bury Federer once and for all. Then he will win. So for me Murray’s attitude will play a huge role in this match. If he stays positive despite setbacks it will go a long way towards a final berth, but if he starts getting negative and berating himself again then he can forget about it.
- The Prediction Game
Now the fun part. As was the case in the last two games I will take two prediction matches. I’m pretty sure everyone is going to go for Djokovic over Gasquet or is someone gonna take the risk? And even if you get the winner right you still have to get the amount of sets and the order for the extra points. So make sure you consider your prediction well. The Federer vs Murray match will be great for a prediction because I find it quite tough to call. Bias won’t help you!
Edit: I forgot all about the rankings and the winner of today. The winner was Darrell who I can’t believe was the only person together with Josefina who took the risk to go for Gasquet and he got the number of sets right as well. Well done! Overall you all did quite well thanks to the predictability of the Federer match. Darrell moves to the top of the rankings after picking up 15 points and Josefina made a big move as well. Come on Josefina I’m rooting for the lone woman around the top(and come on Ronnie)!
The is in your court.