I think you would probably agree with me if I say that Wimbledon 2009 has been interesting and refreshing. Did Rafa’s withdrawal have something to do with that? I don’t know but since he withdrew, Lleyton Hewitt has taken full advantage of that fact by beating the seed that replaced Rafa, Juan-Martin Del Potro in straight sets. But he didn’t stop there because he is now finds himself in the quarter finals. Yesterday we saw the roof being closed for the first time at Wimbledon, which is another factor that adds to the excitement and newness at Wimbledon. Andy Murray vs Stanislas Wawrinka was a fantastic match and the fact that the roof was closed made for an interesting atmosphere. It’s great to finally have a roof at Wimbledon! Rafa’s withdrawal and the addition of the roof are just some of the things that already made Wimbledon 2009 an interesting tournament, and we have already seen some great matches.
Cilic vs Querry, Cilic vs Haas, Ferrero vs Gonzalez, Hewitt vs Stepanek and Murray vs Wawrinka are matches off the top of my head that were classics. Yet we are only at quarter final stage, and this is where things get really interesting. Each one of the quarter final match ups has the potential to be classics, so let me take a closer look at each of the quarter final matches.
Roddick vs Hewitt
Hewitt holds a slim 6-5 lead over Roddick in career head-to-head meetings. They have played twice on grass at Queens Club, including the match two weeks ago which Roddick won 7-6, 7-6, and Roddick also won the other meeting on grass. As you can see from the scoreline it was pretty close, and could have been closer had it not been for that incident where Roddick intimidated the umpire into making the wrong decision. The grass at Queens is different then Wimbledon though, it’s faster then Wimbledon and therefor would have suited Roddick better. Wimbledon is slower and it gets slower as the court surface wears out as well. Therefor the results at Queens is not much to go by, and besides Hewitt will have more confidence then two weeks simply because of the fact that he is still alive in the draw.
All of this leads me to believe that this match is on the racquet of Hewitt. Either way it is very close. Roddick has been a different player since the start of 2009 and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he wins, but I just feel like if Hewitt’s return and base line game clicks, Roddick may be found wanting. A lot will depend on how well Roddick serves also. If he can serve a high percentage of first serves he will be hard to beat. But should Hewitt get into a groove on the return as he did against Stepanek in the last round, I’m afraid that will be the end of Roddick’s 2009 Wimbledon title hopes. Hewitt is an exceptional returner of serve, but he is not as attacking on the return as say Andre Agassi was. What he does so well is to make his opponent play and he makes great gets on the return.
He is more in the mold of Jimmy Connors, who made incredible gets on the return. This is exactly the kind of player that gives Roddick problems. This is because Roddick doesn’t have a good first volley for instance. That will give Hewitt the change to make those amazing gets on the return and work his way into the point. From the ground Hewitt is also too consistent for Roddick. So really it will pretty much be about Roddick’s serve and Hewitt’s returns as far as I’m concerned. It will depend who uses their strength the best on the day, and should Hewitt be on his game he might just have the edge. This is he hardest of the quarter-final matches to call and may end up being the best match.
Since I want Hewitt to win I’m gonna go with him.
Murray vs Ferrero
Murray goes into this match holding a 1-0 lead against Ferrero in head-to-heads after having won their only meeting two weeks ago at Queens 6-2, 6-4. Both players has a previous best result at Wimbledon of quarter finals, but Murray did it last year when he lost to Rafa, while Ferrero did it in 2007 when he took a set off Roger. Both players would desperately want to go at least one step further this year and again this could be a close match. You would think that Murray is the favorite after beating Ferrero relatively easily at Queens, but again it’s different circumstances. Murray no doubt has a lot of pressure on him and he looked vulnerable against Wawrinka. Ferrero on the other hand has nothing to lose and the slower Wimbledon courts will also suit him better then Queens.
The thing that Murray has in his favor is variation. From the ground they are pretty even. Murray has the slightly better backhand while Ferrero has the slightly better forehand. On the serve Murray is also slightly better. And again at the net he is also better. When it comes to movement they are similar, although Murray is younger and Ferrero has probably lost a step. Having said that Ferrero has always been an exceptional mover. The returns are also pretty similar. Like I said Murray has variation on his side, he can change the pace of his shots and he is pretty comfortable at the net as well, while Ferrero prefers to camp on the base line and show you pretty much the same thing. Therefor should Murray hold his nerve and play to the best of his ability he should take this one.
However if he struggles to deal with the pressure of being Britain’s big hope and his game is slightly off this may be closer then we think.
I’ll go with Murray to take this one.
Djokovic vs Haas
Amazingly we come to the third match up where the players have met within the last two weeks. Djokovic holds a 2-1 advantage in head-to-heads with their last meeting less then two weeks ago in the Halle final. Haas won 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1. This means that Haas is currently on an unbeaten run of 9 consecutive matches on grass. Can he make it a perfect 10? After beating Djokovic just a few days ago he will certainly believe that he can do it. Haas is the oldest man left in the draw at 31 and as always he is a great talent not to be underestimated. But he does seem to lack in the mental department. He gets very tight under pressure. If you watched the match against Cilic you would have noticed. He also loses his temper quite often.
Djokovic on the other hand has been looking pretty impressive since his straight set victory over Mardy Fish in round 3. In this kind of form he is a hard man to beat, and had it not been for the fact that Haas beat Djokovic on grass a few days ago I would have said that Djokovic is the favorite. But the fact that Haas is on such a run makes this a pretty even contest. The grass at Halle is similar to Wimbledon and Haas will think if he has done it once he can do it again. He will have to be at his very best though, because Djokovic has excellent defense and Haas could become frustrated if he can’t finish off the points. I haven’t watched Haas that much but I think he likes to serve-and-volley at least on his first serve. This will make for an interesting contest again because Djokovic is another good returner of serve.
From the base line Djokovic is the more solid one, while Haas will try to get to the net. Whoever can impose their game on the other will win this match. If Haas serves very well and holds his nerve in the important moments he could win, whereas if Djokovic’s returns and passing shots is on fire he can edge Haas. Either way this should be a great contest and it’s one I’m very much looking forward to. Again this is a hard one to call, but the difference might well be in the mental department.
I’m gonna go with Djokovic, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Haas win.
Federer vs Karlovic
Finally we come to the GOAT vs the Tree. Lol! As you probably know by now Roger takes an 8-1 lead against Karlovic into the match. That is an exceptional record in itself against an awkward and dangerous opponent like Karlovic and might well prove to be the difference. They have had that one meeting at Wimbledon in 2004 which Roger won in straight sets. Roger is obviously on a roll after his French Open run and everything seems to be working well for him. Karlovic is not on too bad a run himself after having beaten guys like Tsonga and Verdasco. And the fact that he serves out of a tree doesn’t make things particularly easy for Roger. It really comes down to the tie breaks where one or two points makes the difference. It’s kind of nerve wrecking but I feel like Roger’s experience and confidence should get him through.
Roger is pretty good at getting the racket on returns and making his opponent play, so maybe if he is lucky Karlovic can have a bad service game and he can break. He will only get a chance to do this probably once or twice in the match, so it will be crucial that he takes the opportunity when it presents itself. There is no room for missed opportunities. The same goes for the tie breaks. Karlovic may be the most awkward opponent Roger faces during these championships so I’m sure he will be looking to get through it as quickly as possible. The fact that Karlovic could only beat him once out of 9 times will also play on Karlovic’s mind. And that win was at a time where Roger was playing a lot worse then he is playing now.
It doesn’t come any more daunting then playing Roger on the centre court of Wimbledon. I have full confidence that Roger will once again come up with the goods when it really matters and extend his extremely impressive record of 20 consecutive grand slam semi-finals to 21. I think in the end a few strokes of genius from the GOAT in important moments is what will get him through. If Roddick vs Hewitt is the hardest one to call then this one is the easiest. And once again I feel like it’s Roger’s destiny to win this title.
I’ll go with Roger, in four.