It's down to just four at the All England Club with the young guns set to take on the remaining members of the Big Four in the semifinals of the gentlemen's draw at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.
One side of the bracket pits the No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic against No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov. Though the Djoker has a Wimbledon title in his possession already, Dimitrov is coming off a dismantling of defending champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
As for the other matchup, seven-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer is set for a showdown with No. 8 Milos Raonic. Just a day after Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian female player to make a Grand Slam final, Raonic is hoping to join her on the men's side.
With the semifinals of the gentlemen's bracket officially set to get underway, here's a look at the viewing information and breakdown for Friday's action.
|2014 Wimbledon Semifinals Schedule|
|Match||Date, Start Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov||Friday, July 4 at 8 a.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|No. 4 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Milos Raonic||Friday, July 4 at 11 a.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Breakdown of Men's Semifinals
With both matches featuring similar storylines, either could see a changing of the guard. But with Djokovic and Dimitrov taking the court first, let's start there.
After years of hearing about how he's the next big thing and how his game compares to Federer's—earning him the nickname "Mini-Federer"—Dimitrov has finally lived up to those heightened expectations. Not only did he live up to them, he exceeded them by romping Murray.
Coming into the match, Djokovic is certainly wary of his opponent's play on the court, per Wimbledon:
While Dimitrov made a huge statement against Murray, he'll still have a stiff test ahead of him with the Djoker.
One member of the Big Four has taken the Wimbledon title every year since 2003, with all four claiming a championship in the last four years. Djokovic won it all in 2011, but fell short last season to Murray.
Starting this tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Djoker talked about the pressure applied to the top players, per Simon Cambers of The Guardian:
Media and fans are always expecting the top guys to reach the final stages. If it doesn’t happen, it’s obviously a surprise. It proves in a grand slam you cannot underestimate any opponents. There are new young players that are challenging the best and are winning against the best players in the world. That’s why they deserve to be where they are now.
While Djokovic attempts to fight off the younger guard, Federer will look to do the same against Raonic. The Canadian features a massive serve that frustrated Nick Kyrgios in the quarterfinals loss.
Federer comes into the match with a 4-0 record against Raonic, but struggled mightily with him in their lone grass-court contest. The match in Halle, Germany, saw Raonic win the first set 6-7 before Federer mounted a comeback in the final two sets.
Raonic also came away with 25 aces in that 2012 match, but lost in straight sets for the first time against the Swiss player earlier this year at the Australian Open. Despite his lack of success against Federer, the 23-year-old spoke with unbridled confidence about the upcoming match, per Wimbledon.com:
I’m going to step out there and I’m not playing the seven-time Wimbledon champion. I’m not playing a 32-year-old man. I’m not playing father of two sets of twins, which is a very low possibility I bet to do.
... I’m playing a guy that is standing in my way of what I want to achieve, and I’ve got to focus on everything that’s there, on the situation, how best to deal with it to give myself the best possibilities to achieve what I want.
So, we've established that he's not afraid of Federer.
As for the 17-time Grand Slam winner, this might be his last considerable chance at an 18th major tournament. While he'll always be a contender at Wimbledon and every other Slam, the elder statesman is playing some of his best tennis at the All England Club.
With some of the most daunting competition in both Rafael Nadal and Murray already ousted, Federer is closing in on yet another Grand Slam victory. As for what might come next, Rajdeep Sardesai of IBN 18 notes what matchup he'd love to see in the final:
Whether it will be mini-Federer versus the man himself, the matchup of the young guns or the final members of the Big Four prevailing, the possibilities are intriguing heading into the weekend.
Regardless of whom fans are rooting for, the men's semifinals are set to be some of the most exciting matches of the year thus far. All eyes will yet again be on London looking to see if any of the young players can crack the veterans or if either past Wimbledon winner will prevail.
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