As the final rounds of this year's Wimbledon are showing, the real excitement lies on the ladies' side of the bracket. With all due respect to their male counterparts, the semifinals are a hodge-podge of familiar faces who win every year.
There's nothing wrong with seeing names like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the bracket, since they are the big stars and draw more eyeballs, but sometimes getting new blood into the fray is also good for the sport.
We are clearly getting ahead of ourselves by discussing the semifinals. Day 9 at the All England Club was about the quarterfinals, so we are going to look at the results from Wednesday's matches and the big storylines.
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 26 Marin Cilic||6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-2|
|No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov def. No. 3 Andy Murray||6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2|
|No. 4 Roger Federer def. No. 5 Stan Wawrinka||3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4|
|No. 8 Milos Raonic def. Nick Kyrgios||6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)|
|No. 3 Simona Halep def. No. 19 Sabine Lisicki||6-4, 6-0|
|No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard def. No. 9 Angelique Kerber||6-3, 6-4|
The Gentlemen Won't Have A Repeat Champion
Despite the earlier qualms about lack of originality in the gentlemen's semifinals, there was some drama in the quarterfinals when No. 3 seed Andy Murray was eliminated in straight sets by No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov.
More than just a win to put him in his first semifinal at a Grand Slam event, it was a huge stepping stone for Dimitrov against a player of Murray's caliber, as noted by ESPN Stats and Info:
Grigor Dimitrov earns 1st victory over top-10 player at a Grand Slam (5th match). Andy Murray snaps 5-year streak of making Wimbledon semis— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 2, 2014
There's been a slow, steady progression for Dimitrov this season. He made it to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open before losing a close four-set battle to Rafael Nadal and has already set a career high with three singles titles.
Making things even better for Dimitrov is the way he has kept all this newfound success in perspective, as evidenced by his quotes after Wednesday's victory, via Wimbledon's Twitter:
Grigor Dimitrov refusing to get carried away by his win: "I have two more matches to play, hopefully. I'm just trying to stay on course"— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 2, 2014
This is already the best run of Dimitrov's career, so keeping a clear head is vital to success, especially with Djokovic waiting in the semifinals.
No Drama On The Ladies' Side
What's so remarkable about the victories for Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard on Wednesday is how easy they made it look.
For Halep, it wasn't a huge surprise since she is the No. 3 seed and was "only" taking on 19th-seeded Sabine Lisicki. The way she did it, falling behind 4-1 in the first set before reeling off 11 games in a row to win 6-4, 6-0, was still impressive.
For Bouchard, however, this year is looking more and more like her great coming out party. The 20-year-old has now made it to the semifinals of all three Grand Slam events in 2014 and, according to Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, will at least be in the top 10 when new rankings come out after Wimbledon.
Welcome to the top 10, Eugenie Bouchard. Projected to reach No8 by reaching the #Wimbledon semifinals.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 2, 2014
Also of note for Bouchard is how she took out Angelique Kerber, who eliminated Maria Sharapova after the Russian had steamrolled everyone at the French Open and through three rounds in England just 24 hours earlier.
Unless Petra Kvitova defeats Lucie Safarova in the semifinals on Thursday, we are guaranteed to see a brand new Wimbledon champion on the ladies' side.
The Old Bull Teaches The Young Calf A Lesson
What semifinal draw would you rather see at Wimbledon?
The headline may be a little deceiving since Federer is 32 and Stan Wawrinka is 29, but the main point holds true. Wawrinka has been steadily climbing the world rankings for a long time, even sitting above his fellow countryman when Wimbledon started, and seemed ready to put an exclamation point on his rise if the two met at this tournament.
Wawrinka got his chance in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, but it was Federer who came through on the stage that has been his sanctuary for 11 years.
It is important to give credit where it's due: Wawrinka did put Federer on his heels early by winning the first set and coming so close to taking the second set. The younger Swiss star was in every set but couldn't do enough to pull away.
For years we have talked about the end of Federer as an elite player, but there are always reminders along the way that he's still capable of being great. He's clearly heard all the talk and may have started to believe some of it, based on his comments to BBC Tennis after the win.
Federer will take on Milos Raonic in one semifinal. It's their first meeting since the 2013 Australian Open fourth round, which Federer won in straight sets.
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