This year’s Wimbledon had its share of early upsets—Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, with underdogs like Lukas Rosol and Tamira Paszek coming through—great theater, but the cream on the men’s side has risen to the top at the All England Club with the No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 ranked players in the world coming through to the semifinals.
The match-ups of Novak Djokovic versus Roger Federer and Andy Murray versus Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are definitely must-see, but before they play, let’s take a look at some of my bold predictions for how things may sort out.
Great Britain has been dying for a homegrown winner, and for the past few years Andy Murray has been their best shot. However, the Scot has had an unfortunate tendency to be unable to close the deal.
For example, Murray has reached three grand slam tournament finals—2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and 2011 Australian Open—but lost all three of these closing matches. Furthermore, in 2011, Murray reached the semifinals of all four grand slam tournaments before being ousted.
With top four skills and a coach like Ivan Lendl, you would think Murray would have a grand slam trophy on his mantle, but alas, he is still in the hunt.
Things may be improving for Andy Murray this year at the All England Club and he could get through to the finals. With potential final opponents like Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, it’s unlikely that Murray will come away with the grand slam title, but expect him to take down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis and move onto center court for the big match.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga proved in the quarterfinals Wednesday against Philipp Kohlschreiber that he’s a fighter. The first and third sets both went to tie breaks, and Tsonga won both of those pressure packed encounters.
I don’t believe the big serving Tsonga will be able to take down Andy Murray in the semifinals solely based upon his warrior spirit. I do believe his determination will push Murray to five sets but ground stroke errors will eventually prove his undoing.
As I previously mentioned, Tsonga has proven that he can handle tough tiebreak situations. However, he’ll need more than just mental toughness against Murray, who has shown the ability to raise his game when the match is on the line.
It will be interesting to see the serve-and-volley game of Tsonga against Murray’s counter-punching style. I believe the match will be close, but if Murray brings the same intensity and ground stroke accuracy that he did against David Ferrer, then Tsonga will likely come in second.
On Tuesday in his quarterfinal match against Mikhail Youzhny, the classic Roger Federer showed up at the All England Club.
Federer took the match effortlessly, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and committed only 13 unforced errors.
This precision and dominance is what makes Federer great, and it was refreshing to see his textbook playing style return on his most-successful Grand Slam surface.
However, it’s unlikely that we will see that same supremacy from Federer in the semifinals against Novak Djokovic for a couple of reasons.
First, Djokovic has dropped only one set this entire tournament, and while I do think Federer will get a set off of the Djoker, it will most likely be only one. Djokovic has improved his serve and backhand (if that’s even possible) just since the French Open, where he faced Federer in the semis as well, and knocked out Fed-Ex in straight sets.
Although Federer will undoubtedly show off his laser-accurate forehand for many winning points, it will likely not be enough to keep Novak Djokovic from advancing to the finals.
No. 1 in the world Novak Djokovic has a monkey on his back. The Djoker had a chance to complete the elusive Grand Slam at the 2012 French Open less than 4 weeks ago, having previously won the Australian Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon consecutively, but after facing the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the finals, that dream was crushed.
Now with Nadal out of the tournament, and a potential opponent of Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals—assuming he beats Roger Federer—Wimbledon should likely favor Djokovic. Winning the title brings the certainty that he really is the best player in the world.
Djokovic does have an incredibly difficult semifinals match against Roger Federer, but Djoker has won the last six of seven encounters with Fed-Ex, most recently in the semis of the 2012 French Open. Clearly Djokovic has recent ownership of Federer, and if he can notch this victory, he should have the momentum and confidence to become this year’s men’s champion.