Can anyone stop the big four in men's tennis?
The top four ranked players in men's tennis have never before reached the semifinals in back-to-back Grand Slam events in the history of tennis. That has a chance to change tomorrow as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will all be in action in the Wimbledon 2011 quarterfinals.
None of the players that the Big Four have to play against tomorrow has that big of a track record. They have combined to reach just one Grand Slam final (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open).
That leads to the question of which of the four has the biggest chance of being upset. Tsonga, Mardy Fish, Bernard Tomic and Feliciano Lopez are obviously playing good tennis as they made it this far, but their runs are now likely to end.
Tsonga has the best experience late in majors among the four but has to go up against six-time Wimbledon champion Federer.
While Tsonga has been playing very good grass-court tennis in 2011 and has enough talent to stay with Federer, the mental aspect of the game is what will hurt him in this matchup. Federer has beat him four of five times they played, including a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 beatdown in the 2010 Australian Open semifinals.
Lopez will be playing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the third time in his career. His great run at the All-England Club this year includes an upset over three-time finalist Andy Roddick in the third round.
Lopez will take on Murray, who owns a 4-0 career head to head record. Lopez' poor return game is likely to hurt him in this match as Murray should be able to create more chances against the Spaniard's serve than his previous opponents.
Djokovic is likely to have the easiest quarterfinal match, as he draws the teenage qualifier Tomic. Tomic has had an incredible run to this point, taking out fifth-ranked Robin Soderling along the way.
The Serb will be a big favorite in this match and should win in straight sets if he has the right mindset. The encounter could have easily been a first or second round match.
If anyone is going to pull the upset tomorrow, it is likely to be Fish. While Nadal owns a 5-0 career record against him, circumstances could make this match a little bit different.
The last four times Nadal lost a grand slam match (French Open 2009, U.S. Open 2009 and the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011), there was an injury issue behind it.
In his fourth-round win over Juan Martin del Potro, Nadal appeared to injure his left foot. He had an MRI today and the results were negative, but he may not be at 100 percent for tomorrow's match.
If Nadal is feeling anything, Fish certainly has the game that can take advantage of it. The veteran took out last year's finalist Tomas Berdych in the last round and is playing some of the best tennis of his life.
Nadal has been struggling in his return games throughout these championships, and the Fish serve might be the best one he's had to face yet. The match could come down to tiebreaks where just a couple swings of the racquet can decide who is victorious.
The expectation is that the top four players will again get to the semifinals and create a very compelling end of the tournament. Defending champion Nadal should be on upset alert, though, and nothing can be taken for granted in any of the four matches.