Wimbledon Day 9: Gasquet Upsets Wawrinka in Five-set Thriller

  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)!

Happy predicting!

  • Highlights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5hTl0VCVqM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMrIRplctNk

The is in your court.

Posted in Grand Slams, Wimbledon.

29 Comments

  1. Ruan what are your views on who are the favorites now ? Like for instance who is the favorite to win it now and who are the favorites for the semis. I think logically the favorites are Federer and Djokovic to reach the finals and for Djokovic to win it. But of course I am heavily invested emotionally so I would say Federer and Djokovic with Federer winning the final. I have no doubt Djokovic is reaching the final but I think the Murray match could be too close to call. I want to know what you would actually predict at least in terms of winners without considering games or sets played. Especially since you seem to him become unbiased to the point where I think you like Djokovic almost as much if not more as Federer. I think your opinion would also give me a good idea of where things stand.

    As for the Federer not being tested part, no I don’t agree with you at all. You can only play who is in front of you. The way you put it you made it look it all easy. I mean the guy has won 121/122 service games and lost a single set among his last 25. I mean thats pretty crazy no matter who the opponents were. Also if you think about it, the tiebreaker that he lost against Groth only made him focus more as he moved on. I think not having the service game winning streak is actually good for him if anything. All in all Federer cannot have asked for more. Sure Bautista Agut and Simon were not great tests but that was only so because he made them look that way. I mean they are both top 20 players with Simon especially having caused Roger trouble in all their matches except in Rome (including the one in Shanghai with a lightning quick court which is way faster than Wimbledon). Roger made everyone look ordinary and that’s all there is to it.

    Having said all this I don’t ever remember a slam where three guys are all playing crazily good as this one. I caught all the three guys playing and man were they playing lights out. Djokovic was also playing some pretty scary tennis and Murray was playing much much better than last year. I think the Federer Murray match could go down to the wire but I really hope it doesn’t because I don’t want a tired Federer losing in the final to Djokovic again.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    But Federer hasn’t been tested. Would you call the match against Groth being tested? I wouldn’t. Murray has the ability to test Federer, and so does Djokovic. Sure he’s played great so far but like I said if the opposition is crap it doesn’t really say much. You can’t honestly tell me RBA and Simon are known for their grass court exploits. We will see how he plays when he gets tested. Maybe he cracks like he did in the TB vs Groth, or maybe not. We won’t know until it happens.

    I don’t think Murray is probably mentally strong enough anyway. But if he wins one of the first two sets then he could win. And yes, I expect Djokovic to win but it’s not a foregone conclusion like Federer vs RBA or Simon. Gasquet has a good grass court game. On the other hand, he doesn’t have the heavy artillery which troubles Djokovic on faster surfaces. Djokovic should handle his serve comfortably, and his fh is quite weak which Djokovic can take advantage of.

    [Reply]

    Hilda Reply:

    We’ll see. I think that Roger is looking the best right now but than he hasn’t been tested. Whatever. I suppose on Friday we’ll see whether Roger is ready to win this title or not. I agree that winning in 5 would make it difficult going into the final. I don’t know. I was interested to see Ru-an’s views. I am not sure if he is truly unbiased either. I suppose we’ll find out. Roger could beat Murray and lose in the final too. Until he wins it, you can’t tell.

    All I know is that it would be a privilege if he makes it to another Slam Final – especially at Wimbledon. Last year was tough and it would be epic if he could come back and bear Djokovic at his best on grass. But first he has to beat Murray and it won’t be easy. But I believe in Roger. :-) )

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No, I am not truly unbiased. I have already said that I have favorites. I’m just not a fanatic anymore.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    How should Roger adapt if Murray stands several light-years behind the baseline when returning serve?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Serve a slower first serve to give him more time to get to the net. If he is on top of the net knocking off a volley will be much easier.

    [Reply]

  2. Ru-an,
    I’m going to have to echo your take on this final four. The toughest call is Murray v Fed. I think you hit it with the Murray attitude factor. He’s so invested in this tournament, has already won it. . . if he gets some confidence early (like you said) with a set, Fed will have his hands full and the youth/strength factor could be too much in 4 or 5 sets for Roger. If Rog can get up early, Murray might go fetal position. The Roger camp has to be thinking come out of the gate swinging, make big early statement. Or else.

    The coaching factor? Edberg has Roger playing pretty well right now. On the other side, I thought it was Mauresmo calling the shots, but apparently Bjorkman is much more instrumental and Mauresmo actually is on leave after Wimbledon. Murray has had a splendid spring, solid warm-up. Thinks look good in that camp, as well. Tough call.

    Again, that attitude is a huge factor. And maybe the wind plays a factor. I give Roger the edge in the wind though Murray’s game absorbs that, as well. Interesting stuff.

    Djokovic seems to be hitting his stride and the Stan absence is key.

    Djokovic will be tough to beat here on out.

    [Reply]

  3. You all might want to take a look at Murray’s body language in this interview. If he comes out on the court like that he will be in trouble:

    http://espn.go.com/tennis/wimbledon15/story/_/id/13222332/wimbledon-andy-murray-roger-federer-feeling-pressure-heading-semifinals

    Roger was also interviewed and seemed much more relaxed. I think it’s revealing that Roger said of Andy, “He’s got a great first serve.”
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    lol

    Fed at his passive aggressive best.

    [Reply]

  4. Well Ruan I see you have become a bit diplomatic in your new avatar as well. Giving Gasquet a chance against Djokovic in a slam semi. By the way watching Djoker play against Cilic maid one thing pretty clear he is the clearest favourite. Like some tennis guru’s I also thought Murray was the favourite before the tournament. But I think you called it right. Djokovic has become too damn consistent. Roger dosent have a chance against him on any surface in a slam now. I hope Murray wins against Roger now . Only that way we are going to have a descent final.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, Djokovic is the favorite but should I say Gasquet has no chance at all? What happens then if Gasquet wins? I’d look like a fool that’s what will happen. Look what happened against Anderson. Did you think Anderson could win? He almost did. So yeah, you’d expect Djokovic to win but you never know.

    [Reply]

  5. Ru-an, I really liked this post and also the previous one. Especially the part about how some of the balanced Fedfans made you realise that you are still a Feddan. You are the main reason which helped me become one myself. I still remember that my first comment on your blog was after last year’s Wimby final. I’ve come a long way since then. These days my expectations are at the lowest when it comes to Fed. Infact I’m already content with Fed’s run at Wimby this year and I’m okay with anything that happens from now. I just hope we get to watch some good tennis from both the players in the SF. It’s well known that Fed likes Murray’s game and knows how to handle him especially on fast courts. So I guess it’s safe to say that the match is more on Fed’s racquet. Talking about the ‘deserving’ part, I guess there is no better way for Fed to deserve it than by beating Djokurray in the last 2 rounds. Let the best man win!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Nakul. You are right, if Federer defeats Murray and Djokovic at his age he would have fully deserved it and no one can complain.

    [Reply]

  6. I am happy with Feds performance so far..n we got d semifinals we expected..Now Fed has to prove himself if he realm deserves it. But I know anything can happen. But I believe in Feds chances. I just know for sure Fed is gonna play his best. This is Wimbledon, he likes to play here and most importantly he wants to win it. It wont b like other tournaments where he kind of gives up sometimes. Lets see. I personally don’t like Murrays’ game. He is so boring and dull..and d way acts in d court like a kid.
    And finally djokovic proved why he is no.1..I don’t want to see anyone in d final apart from him.

    [Reply]

  7. Hello,

    I really would like to get your honest opinion on whether I see things fairly or do I have a bias? Basically, I’ve bee listening to two of the bigger Tennis podcasts lately giving me the preview of tomorrow’s match against Murray and they are all pretty much leaning towards Murray. He’s younger, he’s fitter and he’s better, they say.

    The fact that Roger has 66% second serve win percentage – oh that’s not important. Murray is a better returner, yada yada.

    I really would like to hear what you guys think.

    I am just going by the facts:

    Murray is 1:13 against The Big 13 since the beginning of 2014. His only win came against Nadal in Madrid.

    The two slams that he’s won, Roger and Nadal were out.

    This year he made the Finals in Australia only because, again Roger and Rafa were out.

    He’s been more consistent than Roger – but does that mean that he’s better than him?

    I see his second serve as suspect. He’s greT from the baseline, but on grass, is he really that naive in thinking that Roger would settle to exchange with him from the baseline?

    And most importantly, when has Murray taken a lead over Djokovic or Federer in a Slam lately? Yes, he’s strong to come back but in both of his matches against Djokovic, he was never in control. He was always the one to fight back.

    So let me know what you think? Am I the one who is missing something or is everyone just writing Roger off?

    Because even if Murray is better at the baseline, Roger is pretty good himself but he has much more weapons and is just a better player than Murray overall. Those Brits…

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Frankly your post is pretty biased. Federer has himself won numerous grand slam without defeating Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. That doesn’t take anything away from the victories. Also telling that Federer is just a better player overall makes no sense. If he is better then in the period in which Murray won 2 slams and an Olympics Federer also would have won something as big.

    Look here is the truth. Both are coming into this match full of confidence, completely fit, well rested and in very good form. So the match right now is in dead heat. 50-50. Murray has defended his weak second serve plenty of times against Federer and defeated him. But the thing most of us will agree is if both Federer and Murray play their absolute best tomorrow Federer should win. Either in 4 or 5 sets at worst. But I think if I were to put a % on it right now I would have to go with 50-50.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Also saying Murray is 1-13 vs the top 10 is downright stupid. I mean among those 13, 8 were against Djokovic and almost all of them were last year. Murray is playing much much better than last year and like Ruan has kept saying bringing that up is just Fed fanatical mentality. Sure Murray may lose in 3 sets tomorrow to Roger. But that will be because Federer plays lights out. Murray to me at least looks twice as good as last year.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, the 1-13 is a silly argument, Ajay. If anything that makes it more likely that Murray will win, because eventually he must get another win. He is too good not to. Just look how well he played on clay and it’s his worst surface. He’s only lost one match since getting married. He made the final in Australia where Federer lost third round. He’s on a roll. I think people underestimate him. He is very determined and ready to break through again.

    [Reply]

    Bjorn Eirik Reply:

    This match is very open to me. I don’t think their history will matter much tomorrow. Both players are in very good form and should be very confident. Andy Murray clearly has an advantage in age an fitness, and it could well be be the deciding factor if it becomes a long match. I still think Roger has a very good chance to beat him if he can do it in 3 or 4 sets. I expect Djokovic to easily beat Gasquet in the other semi-final, so to me the question is: Can Roger really beat Murray and Djokovic back to back in the last two stages of a slam, at this point in his career. I hope so, but I fear it might be too much to ask for.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Agree BE. I think Federer has to win in 4. I doubt he can win in straight sets, and if it goes to five Murray’s fitness and youth gives him the edge. And for Federer to beat Murray and Djokovic consecutively in a slam he probably has to defeat Murray in straights for confidence and rest.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hello Hilda,

    You are just presenting facts in your message, so the question of bias would have to concern whether you’re addressing enough of the important facts, and/or how you’re interpreting those facts.

    I don’t see any firm interpretations, so I don’t think it’s accurate to call you out for bias on that account. And you are asking for input, so props to you for objectivity on that score too.

    So I’ll just add a few more facts. And I’ll try to avoid interpreting them here for the most part; I’ll just mention them as facts, and invite you to interpret them as you will.

    First is that the two are pretty even on grass historically. :-)

    Murray may be playing the best tennis of his life right now. He’s definitely peaking.

    Anyone in England who says Murray has no chance will be pilloried. It’s kind of like asking Laver or Sampras if they think Roger can win another slam; if they say he’s washed up they may not appear in the most positive light. :-)

    Roger is extremely fit this year. His legs look strong and his upper body is lean. He looks as if he’s been reading Ru-an’s blog and taking his recommendations about fitness to heart!

    He’s also spent less time on the court than anyone else who’s made it this far.

    He’s serving extremely well and just about every part of his game is clicking. The mental aspect looks especially good – e.g. I loved how he broke Gasquet immediately after dropping.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Roger looking more determined.

    A few opinions I want to add:

    If Roger can dictate a S&V game I think he’ll win.

    But if Murray can pass well and keep Roger on the baseline, he can surely win too.

    If Murray is able to do that, Roger has to attack Murray’s (second) serve fearlessly, and may need to take some chances on his own second serve as well.

    I think it will be close! I picked Roger in three on the predictions page, only because I’m so far behind the smart leaders in our prediction ranking. If I get lucky, I can make up some ground this way, but I wouldn’t describe my prediction of a straight-sets win by Roger as anything but a long shot.

    All things considered (including factors I didn’t have time to mention), I expect Roger to win in the semis, but he could lose. And I have no idea if he’ll have enough left in the tank for Djokovic, who I expect to win easily in his semi – but I hope he will have enough. I would love to see # 18!

    :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well, because you are a Fedfan you will look at what is positive for Federer while a Murray fan would look at what is positive for Murray. That’s just normal. It’s quite straight forward what Federer has to do to win this match actually. Serve well to keep Murray from breaking him which he has been doing. Murray’s returns are not as good as Djokovic’s and if Federer plays lights out tennis he can keep Murray from breaking him the entire match.

    Then on Murray’s serve he must attack the second serve like you say and pressure Murray into dropping serve. He has a good chip for Murray’s second serve to approach the net too. I like your straight-set prediction for Federer because it’s risky but could work, in which case like you say you will make up ground on the others who didn’t take the risk. If Federer is mentally solid and fearless he can easily win in straight sets, but like I said before there is no guarantee of that. He has not been tested s far and when he was tested a little he was actually quite poor mentally.

    He played poor tiebreak vs Groth and dropped serve to love serving for the second set vs Simon. It’s not inconceivable that he feels a lot of pressure to win this Wimby and that he will totally crack under serious pressure, in which case Murray will destroy him.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    If only Troickl’s match with Brown could have had a one-hour rain delay….

    :!!

    [Reply]

  8. I guess the prediction for the final comes later, but I will go ahead and say because of the French and his previous success here (and his coach), Djokovic wins this tournament. Anderson had him on the ropes, but failed. With Stan out, Djokovic almost certainly plays the final rested, confident and very very motivated.

    This Rog/Murray bout is totally up in the air. Too tough to call. Back to the attitude of Murray. He gets too emotional during matches in which he wins even easily. If tested, down a set or two, he will come to pieces. But if he can get a set early, he can win.

    Roger is the most brilliant, but the oldest. His five-set record at this point is not giving Fedfans much confidence. It can’t. He is great in 3 sets, but vulnerable in 5 set format.

    My point is the Rog/Murray outcome almost doesn’t matter. Djokovic is in the best position to win Wimbledon.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good points Matt. I also get the feeling that Djokovic’s survival against Anderson was key. Now he has what looks to be a fairly straight-forward semi-final while Fedray will battle it out for a place in the final in an even match-up. Djokovic is certainly in a strong position right now. But yeah there is a reason they play the matches. There are no guarantees.

    [Reply]

  9. I think Murray will need to play really well tomorrow. He’ll need to be aggressive, look to take charge on the return, be ready to out-grind Federer and most importantly, not get down on himself. I also think the 1st set would be a little more important for him. For Fed, he needs to have a very good 1st serve percentage, pick his spots, dictate as much as possible and try and jump out to a lead.

    [Reply]

    Krish Reply:

    … and attack Murray’s 2nd serves, really go after them.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly Krish. Murray needs to make it clear to Federer that he is there to win by positive and aggressive tennis. There is no room at all for getting down on himself and being negative. Djokovic is now at that stage where he thinks he is the favorite against Federer in slams. He totally believes in himself. Murray has to do the same if he wants to make the final. The self-belief he showed on clay and how he played in that FO SF vs Djokovic tells me he is ready. But, of course, Federer is still a very good player on the grass and has made Murray doubt himself in the past. I think the whole match hinges on Murray’s attitude.

    The crowd is on his side and everything. If he goes out there with the body language of a winner he already has the battle half way won.

    [Reply]

  10. I am up, on the west coast of the U.S.A. I will not sleep tonight, in anticipation of the match. Go Roger! We hope for a competitive match, but really we do not. Roger in 3. Amen.

    :-)

    [Reply]

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