As promised I’m back with a preview of tomorrow’s men’s semi-final action at Wimbledon. There is still three men of 26 years or older in the draw, while Murray is the lone youngling at 22 years of age. We saw some great tennis in the quarter finals, could the same thing happen in the semi-finals? Lets find out.
Federer vs Haas
Roger takes a 9-2 head-to-head record into his semi-final match with Tommy Haas. The only matches he lost was way back in 2000 and 2002 before he became the unstoppable force that has been ruling tennis all these years. Now I know the first thing that comes to mind is the match in the French Open where Haas nearly beat him. But really I have covered this before. I mean it should be clear by now that Roger felt a lot of pressure when Rafa and Djokovic lost early on, knowing that this is his big chance to win the one title that has been eluding him. He had come so close before and really there was immense pressure on him to win the title after the departure of Rafa. That inside out forehand winner against Haas when he was break point down in the third set was the turning point for Roger.
This is where he showed just how much he wanted that title. Haas was playing well in the first two sets, but you could just feel the tension in Roger’s game. After he got through that match and won the title we have been seeing a very different Roger both on and off court. There has been a huge weight lifted off his shoulders and after seeing his matches at Wimbledon, I dare to say he is back to his very best. Therefor you can expect a very different result from the French Open. I don’t care how well Haas plays. He is simply no match for the GOAT. That is my opinion anyway. I think many people expect this to be a close match, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Roger wins in straight sets. When Roger is at his best no one is a match for him, let alone Haas.
You can make a case for Rafa, but he’s not even in the picture right now. All those balls his been chasing down against Roger and others is finally starting to catch up with him. I mean what did he expect? Anyway more on that later. For now I can just tell you that if Roger is at his best, which he has been of late, Haas is no match for him. I know when it comes to this point of a grand slam Roger’s fans are always going to start feeling a little nervous. Personally I like to look at it a little differently, as I suspect Roger does as well. Roger shows a lot of respect for his opponents in the media etc, but that is to be expected. But I think deep down there is a cold killer in Roger that wants to tear his opponent apart.
That might sound cold but this is professional sport, and Roger would not have achieved what he has if he didn’t have that killer instinct. I guarantee you he is not thinking: “This guy almost beat me at the French Open so I expect another extremely close match”. No, he is thinking he wants to show everyone just how much pressure he was under at the French Open and since that weight is off his shoulders, he wants to snuff out any hopes that Haas might have harboured. Looking at their head-to-head matches, they have had some tough encounters, notably two five setters at the Australian Open. Also they have played twice on grass, both at Halle and both times Roger was victorious. The first time he won 6-4, 7-6(9) and the second time 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3.
So he is obviously not to be taken lightly. But looking at the fact that Roger has an 8-2 record against him and the fact that Roger looks to be back to his very best, I expect Roger to win this one without too many problems. Looking at their respective games, I think Haas will find it hard to break Roger. Especially with the way Roger has been serving of late. Haas is not known for his return of serve either. As for Haas’ serve it can be considered a weapon, but it’s not in the mold of a Karlovic or a Roddick. Therefor if Roger was able to break Karlovic twice, I definitely expect him to break Haas. Haas is a serve-and-volley player who showed how good he is at the net against Djokovic. Yet Roger’s returns and passing shots was lethal against Karlovic, so Haas might well have difficulty holding serve.
Haas is a talented player. He does everything well and doesn’t have any apparent weaknesses. But at closer inspection he has always been mentally fragile. And even though I felt that he came of age against Djokovic to a certain extent, I don’t think he is anything close to Roger when it comes to mental toughness. Roger has been at the semi-final level of Wimbledon 6 times already, while this is Haas’ first time. Therefor I just feel like this is as far as Haas goes, while Roger has a date with destiny. Again Roger is just a little better then Haas in every department, although Roger does not come into the net like Haas does, but prefers to launch his attacks from the base line.
My prediction: Roger in 3 or 4 sets. Haas has the ability to take a set off Roger, but he would have to play some amazing tennis, and Roger would have to drop his level a little.
Murray vs Roddick
As is the case with the other semi-final, one of the players seem to ‘own’ the other player when looking at the head-to-head record. Murray leads Roddick 6-2, winning their only meeting on grass at Wimbledon 2006, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4. This seemingly makes Murray the clear favorite, but I don’t think it’s that simple. First of all Murray hasn’t faced one recognized grass court player thus far, and he looked vulnerable against Wawrinka in the fourth round. There is no doubt there is a lot of pressure on Murray. Even before Wimbledon the talk has started, will Murray finally put an end to Britain’s title drought at SW19? Many of the so called tennis experts have been predicting a famous victory from the Scot.
Even the Queen has cleared her diary for Sunday in case Murray will be there. All of this must take a toll on Murray, I mean it’s just normal. Sure the support of the crowd is huge for Murray every time he steps on court, but there is also a lot of pressure and expectation. So in Roddick, Murray will meet his first real challenge. And in all honesty Roddick has been a different player this year. We saw it again in his match against Hewitt. He is fitter then ever and his intensity against Hewitt throughout the match was astonishing. There is no doubt Roddick is hungrier then ever for a Wimbledon title and he isn’t getting any younger either. With his bomb of a serve and his new found confidence he is not to be underestimated by anyone.
I think this could be a very close encounter. Sure Murray looks to own Roddick a bit, but I don’t think it will matter much here. Roddick himself has been to the semi-finals on three occasions, while Murray has never been there. So Roddick won’t be intimidated much by the occasion, while all the pressure that is on Murray added to the fact that semi-finals is unknown territory for Murray, could count against him. Therefor I won’t be surprised if Roddick wins this match. Having said that, Murray has exactly the game that troubles Roddick. He returns well and changes things up to make Roddick uncomfortable. I can’t exactly put my finger on why Murray likes playing Roddick so much, but I do know that Murray is a smart player and takes players out of their comfort zone, while Roddick is a little one dimensional.
If Murray rises to the occasion and plays his best tennis, I think he will once again be too strong for Roddick.
My prediction: This is the tougher one of the two to call. I will go with Murray since I would like him to win. We have seen two Federer/Roddick finals before and and then the three Roger/Rafa finals, so I just think it would be nice to see something different for a change. Also I would love for Roger to beat Murray in the final and really work for that 15th grand slam title. Obviously Murray is a more challenging opponent for Roger so that would be a bigger test for him, but he would also have the chance to really crush Murray’s confidence which will be good for Roger in the long run.
So that is it then. I think the Roger/Haas match will be a little one sided, while we could be in for yet another epic match between Roddick and Murray. Go Rog!