Wimbledon 2013 Men's Semifinal: Djokovic vs. Del Potro Preview and Prediction
It has been a Wimbledon fortnight filled with more than its share of upsets. The men’s two top seeds, however, have not been part of the landslide of eliminations which took out the top three seeds on the women’s side of the draw.
Novak Djokovic has progressed through his section of the draw without much difficulty. Coming into the semifinals, the No. 1 seed has not dropped a set.
Also surviving into the semifinals is former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro who’s finally beginning to regain the form that won him a major championship in 2009.
The No. 8 seed, del Potro also breezed through, not not dropping a set.
Djokovic will be trying for his second Wimbledon Championship after capturing his first during his historic season in 2011. Del Potro will be trying to reach his first championship match at the All England Club.
Which man will advance to the final?. Read the following analysis and prediction of their upcoming match.
Who Has the Historical Edge?
Djokovic has, of course, been here before in the final rounds on Centre Court while his opponent is reaching the semifinals for the first time at Wimbledon.
In 2013, the world No. 1 won the Australian Open, Dubai and Monte Carlo while reaching the semifinals of the French Open. He owns a 33-5 record this year, coming into Wimbledon.
During the past three seasons at Wimbledon, Djokovic has reached the semifinals, winning the title outright in 2011 over Rafael Nadal.
Juan Martin del Potro holds a 20-8 record so far in 2013, showing vast improvement as the Wimbledon fortnight got underway. Earlier this year he won the tournament in Rotterdam and reached the finals at Indian Wells where he lost to Rafael Nadal. He went out in the third round at the 2013 Australian Open but was forced to skip the French Open this year due to illness.
Del Potro’s furthest reach at the All England Club prior to this year was the fourth round. He lost in that round first to David Ferrer in 2012 and then to Rafael Nadal in 2011. Altogether, the Argentine has played the Wimbledon tournament five times.
Del Potro has faced Djokovic 11 times throughout his career, winning three. The last time they met at Indian Wells this year, Del Potro won in three sets. He also defeated Djokovic at last year’s Summer Olympics held on the grounds of the All England Club. That was there only contest on grass.
Based only on their total history, however, you have to give the nod to Djokovic who's been here before.
How Djokovic Has Looked so Far at Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic has looked stronger as the Wimbledon fortnight progressed. He’s not lost a set so far in the tournament.
On his way to the semifinals, he defeated two seeded players, starting with (28) Jeremy Chardy in the third round and then (13) Tommy Haas in the fourth.
His quarterfinal opponent was the No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych. They played to a first set tiebreak with Berdych blinking down 6-5. Djokovic capitalized to win the opener 7-6.
Falling behind 0-3 in the second set, Djokovic fought his way back to level the set at 3-3. Then he broke Berdych's serve, winning the second set 6-4. Finally he took the third 6-3 to close out the match in three sets.
It was a very impressive display on Court No. 1 by the world No. 1. He will be primed and ready to face the Argentine during the semifinals on Friday.
How Del Potro Has Looked so Far at Wimbledon
After taking a big spill in the opening game of his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro eased his way back into their match, breaking the Ferrer serve twice to win the first set 6-2.
Then the Argentine won the second set 6-4 with single break of serve, growing more comfortable on the terrain of Centre Court.
Their third set went to a tiebreak with del Potro finally prevailing 7-6 to take the match.
Del Potro has not not lost a set so far in the Championships. He also did not face a seeded player until the fourth round when he took out (23) Andreas Seppi in straight sets.
His match against the No. 4 seed Ferrer was impressive because the Argentine was able to keep up with the scrambling, energetic Spaniard stroke for stroke. They played high level tennis throughout.
Del Potro looks as good as he’s ever looked during the Wimbledon fortnight.
Biggest X-Factors in the Semifinals
Juan Martin del Potro enters his semifinal match against Novak Djokovic with a heavily-taped knee. His spill during the opening game against Ferrer where he appeared to hyper-extend that same knee does not help.
Del Potro’s physical condition will be one of the biggest x-factors as the two men meet on Friday. He’s endured a couple of tough spills so far, trying to negotiate the grass.
Although the Argentine was able to fight his way back and play some aggressive, powerful tennis to put down Ferrer, playing against Djokovic will be an entirely different matter.
On the other hand, Djokovic periodically has the tendency to relax and let the opposition catch up. In his quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych, after taking the first set, the world No. 1 let the Czech shoot out to a 3-0 lead immediately in set No. 2.
The Serb was able to fight his way back and take the second set and the match, but del Potro has shown himself to be mentally tough, unlike Berdych. Del Potro will not blink during tense moments.
For Djokovic, his ability to remain firmly fixed in the moment will be the x-factor as he battles his way through this semifinal contest. He must recall that it was del Potro who defeated him on Centre Court less than a year ago as they battled for the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Djokovic Will Win If.....
The world No. 1 will win this match if he serves well and returns even better against a man whose massive serve has the potential to blow him off the court at times.
Moreover Djokovic must stay in the moment and remain positive throughout this match, waiting for his chances to break the big man’s serve. Patience will be key.
The Serb will need to take advantage of del Potro’s compromised physical state and try to move the Argentine around with his own considerable weapons, including great groundstrokes and net play.
Having lost to del Potro at both Indian Wells and at last year’s Olympics, Djokovic understands that he cannot take anything for granted, even with the Argentine heavily taped on the other side of the net.
In order to win, Djokovic must stay on top and dictate the pace of the match with variety on his shots and superior movement.
Del Potro Will Win If....
If del Potro’s knees steady and his physical condition improves in the next couple of days, he has an excellent chance of defeating the world No. 1.
But he must be able to move well and anticipate where Djokovic will serve the ball in order to break the Serb’s serve.
The big guy must also try to keep the points short and serve exceptionally well. Del Potro must also use his massive forehand to open up the court and take advantage with quick strikes.
Djokovic is one of the best defenders in tennis, so letting him get his teeth into a game immediately puts del Potro on his back foot. He simply does not have the ability to keep up with the fleet-footed world No. 1, especially if he comes in wounded.
Del Potro has not dropped a set so far during the fortnight so he definitely knows how to close out a match. He will need to stay primed and ready from the first ball to the last to win this match and advance to his first major final since the U.S. Open in 2009.
Given the compromised state of the world No. 8’s physical condition, Novak Djokovic looks like the better bet on Friday.
He definitely leads in their head to head. Another thing you must keep in mind is that since his wrist injury and recovery after winning the 2009 U.S. Open, del Potro has fought to regain his game. It has been a very slow process.
Complicated by further injury and illness, del Potro seems to be rounding into form at this moment in time. He will not simply fold up his tent and go away. If Djokovic wins this match, it will be because he earned his spot in the final.
Were the Argentine in better shape physically, the match could conceivably go his way.
But under the circumstances, Novak Djokovic will advance to his second Wimbledon final in three years.