After five rounds of intense physical action and off-the-charts drama, the semifinals of the gentlemen's draw at Wimbledon 2014 are all set. Making this more compelling is the way it combines elements of the traditional guard against new blood.
On the one hand, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are still playing. They have combined to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles. They are joined by Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, who have two semifinal appearances in Grand Slam events between them (both are from this event).
Making the semifinals even more dramatic is the way they are set up. There's the possibility that Djokovic and Federer play for the championship, but we could also see the crowning of a new champion if Raonic and/or Dimitrov pulls off an upset on Friday.
Here's a look at the schedule for Wimbledon's semifinals, as well as where to find the matches on television and how to stream them online.
|Match||Date, Start Time (ET)||Network|
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov||Friday, July 4 at 8 a.m.||ESPN|
|No. 4 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Milos Raonic||Friday, July 4 at 11 a.m.||ESPN|
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov
Djokovic's credentials speak for themselves, but he hasn't been infallible lately. He's played in the finals in three of the last four Grand Slam events, yet hasn't been victorious since the 2013 Australian Open.
Dimitrov can't touch Djokovic's legacy right now, but he's been building momentum for a long time, with a quarterfinals appearance at this year's Australian Open and now a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Bulgarian just passed the biggest test of his career by defeating defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals to set up this huge matchup.
Interestingly, this is the first time these two have met in a tournament since the 2013 French Open. Djokovic steamrolled Dimitrov in that contest, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. You can't really use that as a basis for comparison, though, since the youngster has taken huge steps forward in the interim.
Also working in Dimitrov's favor is his comfort level on grass. Greg Garber of ESPN.com noted the No. 11 seed has won his last 10 matches on the surface, including nine this year.
Another interesting bit about Garber's piece is the quote from Murray after he lost in straight sets to Dimitrov on Wednesday about how young players are more mature than ever before:
I handled the pressure fine. Today was a bad day from my side. I made many mistakes. I don't feel like it had any bearing on the outcome of the tournament. The younger guys are becoming more mature and improving all the time. I need to take some improvements to my game.
Djokovic, on the other hand, had to exhaust all of his energy to defeat Marin Cilic in five sets, including winning the last two, just to get this spot in the semifinals.
Even though Djoker is the top draw in this tournament and one of the biggest stars in the world, there's a storm coming in the form of Dimitrov. The young stud passed his first big test against Murray. Now the challenge gets even greater against the No. 1 seed.
Fortunately, Dimitrov looks more than comfortable handling it.
Prediction: Dimitrov in four sets
No. 4 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Milos Raonic
The main event of Friday's semifinal action gives Federer the spotlight as he attempts to win his eighth Wimbledon title. Remarkably, a win against Raonic would give the 32-year-old his first appearance in a Grand Slam final since his last title at the All England Club in 2012.
Which potential final match do you want to see?
Raonic has the unfortunate task of going up against the sentimental favorite. If he wins, everyone will talk about Federer's loss. If he loses, well, that's what's supposed to happen when you play this opponent at this event.
However, despite making it to the semifinals, Raonic has a lot left to prove. His path to this match hasn't exactly been loaded with top talent, beating just one ranked player (No. 10 Kei Nishikori).
With respect to Raonic's quarterfinal opponent, Nick Kyrgios, we are talking about a 19-year-old who played a total of six matches in 2014 prior to Wimbledon. The young Australian's future looks bright, especially after his upset win over Rafael Nadal, but let's pump the brakes on calling him a star.
Raonic's best path to victory is on serve. He's a huge hitter, as evidenced by his 133-mph ace to seal the win against Kyrgios, and must use that to his advantage in order to keep Federer on his heels.
Federer looked vulnerable early against Wawrinka, dropping the first set in a hurry and nearly blowing it in the second set before winning the tiebreaker and holding on in the final two sets.
There's not a good reason Federer shouldn't win this match. He's been rolling through the first five matches, dropping just one set, and moving around like it's 2007. This is his tournament, so one more title would be fitting.
Prediction: Federer in five sets
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