Wimbledon always comes with a regal sense of pomp and propriety, which may be why the run of young upstarts in 2014 feels like a gate-crashing party rather than a formal changing of the guard.
The blistering run of 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios was the first sign the "Big Four" of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer was in trouble. Kyrgios upset No. 13 Richard Gasquet and Nadal to force his way into the quarter-finals.
Twenty-three-year-old Grigor Dimitrov crashed the semi-finals with a commanding performance against Murray. Few could have expected him to win, let alone do it in straight sets. Murray hadn't dropped a single set at Wimbledon until he met the rangy Bulgarian.
Milos Raonic—who bested Kyrgios— is the other young gun in the semi-finals, and the 23-year-old made no mistake regarding his intentions in the game of tennis, via Wimbledon's official Twitter account:
He has the chance to upset the oldest of the old guard, Federer, on Friday.
Here is the television schedule for Day 11 as well as predictions for the men's semi-finals.
|July 4||8 a.m. - 2 p.m.||Men's Semi-finals||ESPN|
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Gentlemen||Semi-finals||Centre||Novak Djokovic vs. Grigor Dimitrov||Djokovic in five|
|Gentlemen||Semi-finals||Centre||Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic||Federer in four|
Match of the Day: Novak Djokovic vs. Grigor Dimitrov
L'equipe's Carole Bouchard sees both men's semi-finals matches as something of a generational battle:
Djokovic - Dimitrov and Federer - Raonic : kind of the "we're the bosses" vs "get outta here oldies" perfect scenario. Tough for Muzz though— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) July 2, 2014
Djokovic-Dimitrov could be a very long, very entertaining match as both players are well-equipped for long rallies and athletic play in all areas of the court. We'll take this match over brute strength (Raonic) versus smooth style (Federer).
Dimitrov has no problem taking on one of tennis' greats.
Fear is out of the picture,” said Dimitrov, reported by ATPWorldTour.com. “I'm of course not expecting an easy match. But I'm out there to go through a match, to win it. I think we are both going to really want that match."
Djokovic's steely-eyed concentration was just enough to beat Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals. He did well to cut down on his mistakes to outlast his challenger, hitting just 32 unforced errors over five sets. The dominant Serbian was also quite strong on his service game, winning 74 percent of his first-serve points.
Which semi-finalist do you want to see hoist the Wimbledon trophy?
The psychological battle is essentially a wash in this one. Djokovic comes into this match with a 3-1 record against Dimitrov, although none of their meetings have come on a grass court.
Dimitrov has been a cut above the rest on grass lately. He's 9-0 on lawn courts in 2014, winning the Aegon Championships in early June as a warm-up for this tournament.
His preparation and focus culminated in a dominating performance against Murray. Dimitrov notched 10 aces in his three-set victory, and Murray looked very uncomfortable in his return game against Dimitrov. This allowed the 23-year-old to keep Murray off balance throughout the match. ESPN Stats & Info pointed out just how unlikely his breezing victory was:
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 could be a bit of a fatigue factor for Djokovic, but he's proved in the past that he can recover from five-set matches with startling efficiency.
The young Dimitrov may soon make appearances in the finals of big tournaments a routine experience, but Djokovic still has the experience and defensive skill to take this contest.
Prediction: Djokovic in five sets
(All match stats courtesy of Wimbledon.com unless otherwise noted.)