Federer-Djokovic, Murray-Tsonga To Semis

| July 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

To Rafa Nadal’s surprise, he was the first of the game’s big four to lose at Wimbledon 2012. As expected, Roger Federer (3) and Novak Djokovic (1) posted convincing quarterfinal wins and will meet in a monumental semifinal match on Friday. The bottom page semifinal will pit Scotsman Andy Murray (4) against France’s human steamroller Jo Wilfried Tsonga (5).

There is more than the title at stake in these semifinal matches.  Federer has already overtaken second ranked Nadal and now has his eyes on claiming the top ranking, which could happen if The Swiss champions Wimbledon. Likewise, Tsonga has his eye on Murray for the fourth ranking and Murray has his eye on Nadal for third. There’s plenty of excitement and incentive for the best to let it all hang out on Friday. The crowd favorites will be Federer who chases his seventh Wimbledon title but who lost in the quarters the past two years.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Andy Murray will also enjoy home support against the athletic Tsonga, who like Murray has never won a Grand Slam but who did reach the semis here last year.  Murray’s hard-earned win over David Ferrer earned him his fourth consecutive trip to the Wimbledon semis. Murray seems to have either matured or is listening to his new coach, Ivan Lendl, about focusing rather than complaining.

The Scot needed all his concentration against a stubborn Ferrer.  This was match about foot speed, shot making and sheer will.  Murray and Ferrer had worked their way through the most difficult bracket to face each other.

This battle was a match Murray might not have won in the past.  He had every opportunity to lose this contest.  Ferrer attacked the second serve with vigor and had numerous break points that Murray overcame.  Compounding Ferrer’s success against second serves, Murray only landed 61 percent of his first serves. This will not cut it against an aggressive Tsonga.  Ferrer had 12 break opportunities but only converted 2.  Murray successfully broke 3 of his 9 chances.

The high quality of tennis and just plain guts were ever-present in this 3-hour, 52-minute match.  After dropping the first set tiebreaker, Murray raised his play.  Buoyed by a crucial second set tiebreaker victory, Murray broke in the 9th game of the third set and served out the set.  Ferrer was not expected to put up resistance in the fourth but anyone who has followed the 30-year old this season knows David Ferrer does not go away quietly.

Sure enough the Spaniard was up to the challenge. The two were tied at 5-5 when a rain delay suspended play.  When they returned, Ferrer served a love game and if Murray was going to fold this was the time. Instead he also served out to love. 

Murray gave away an early mini-break in the tiebreaker but broke back and then followed with another to reach 5-4.  With the set on his racket, Murray delivered a crushing wide serve that Ferrer could not handle.  The Scot closed out the match with an ace. This 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (4) triumph featured amazing on-the–move show stoppers and real grit. Both players refused to lose.  On this day Murray was as impressive as he has ever been at Wimbledon.

Murray’s semifinal opponent will be Jo Will Tsonga, the fifth seed. 27th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber proved a formidable competitor against the powerful Frenchman. The German has one of the best backhands in the business and it was on full display in the first three sets. In the 2-hour, 48-minute win, Tsonga’s 17 aces came in handy. This was a match of power against power with Tsonga gaining the edge 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2.

Tsonga and Murray have met six times with Murray winning 5 of the contests. Murray has more to win and more to lose with a defeat.  For a quality player who has reached six of the last seven Grand Slam semifinals, he will be legend with a win and media-fodder if he loses.

All eyes will be focused on the Federer, Djokovic matchup.  Their quarterfinal matches resembled a good workout rather than quarterfinal pairings. Djokovic downed German Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 convincingly.  The Serb had 50 outright winners in the sweep.

Federer dashed concerns about his lower back and sailed to a straight set 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 workout win.  The Swiss never lost serve and converted on 6 of 20 break opportunities. Roger was out of character coming to the net 34 times and winning 24 of those rushes. Perhaps, this is another weapon Federer will deploy against Djokovic.

Federer and Djokovic have met 26 times with Roger winning 14 times. Djokovic won the last three matches but Roger defeated Novak in the 2011 French Open. Throw out the playbook and watch these two players go at it.  There is a lot of pride on the line here.  From here, it is hard to see how Federer can win but he has surprised us before. For Roger to win, he must jump ahead and continue to apply pressure.  The slightest lapse can be fatal against the Serb.  

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