Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Well, it was much tougher than anyone not from Australia could have imagined, but Djokovic survived to play another round here at The Championships. The young Australian managed to fly under the radar until he reached the quarterfinals, but he showed us something on Wednesday. He really outplayed Djokovic for a set and a half, playing great defensive tennis and taking his openings to unleash winners. In fact, Tomic hit 4 more winners than Djokovic throughout the match. Djokovic played a very bad second set mentally, but Tomic responded by gifting away the third.
Djokovic fans should really be worried about that second set where Novak really played poorly. He went almost two entire service games without getting a first serve in and hit a lot of errors. It was not was we were used to seeing from Djokovic this year. Grass is not his best surface, but you would expect someone trying to take World #1 to be motivated enough, and all the more so when playing at Wimbledon. If he loses concentration for long periods like that against Tsonga it will not be a fun match for him.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did the absolutely unthinkable in his match. For the first time in 179 times in a Slam, someone came back from a 2 sets to 0 deficit. (A lot of people were saying that Federer has never lost with a 2-0 lead; that is not quite true as Lleyton Hewitt did it in a Davis Cup match in 2003). Tsonga got to the Australian Open final in 2008 but this was definitely the biggest win of his career. After getting broken in his first service game he did not offer Federer another break point all match. He played an atrocious tiebreak to lose the second set but broke early in each of the final three and served those out, showing no signs of nerves along the way.
Tsonga has looked to be the best in the World at times this year on grass. He beat Nadal in Queens and really outplayed Murray in the final there for a good portion of the match. He became the first player to ever beat Nadal and Federer on grass in the same year. He is hitting huge all over the court and looks to be better at net and on the run this year than in years past. He has the makings of a Grand Slam champion right now. If he can keep up this level for two more matches I am not sure that anyone can stop him. Certainly not Djokovic with the way Novak has played this tournament and this week. Djokovic at his best is probably a little better than this Tsonga, but we really haven’t seen Djokovic’s best since before the French Open. Tsonga leads their head-to-head 5-2 and will move back into the top 10 if he can win this match. Djokovic will become World #1 at the conclusion if this tournament if he can beat Tsonga.
Prediction: Tsonga in four
Andy Murray vs Rafael Nadal
It wasn’t exceptionally pretty, but very played a very solid match to get through Feliciano Lopez. He neutralized Lopez’s serve very well and just wore Lopez down throughout the rallies. Murray has the most variety of any of the top 4 and has really shown throughout this year that he can play with and beat anyone when he keeps his head in the game. He is not as good on grass as on hard courts but definitely moves well on this surface and can play the great defense that his style demands.
We saw what could have been a great match between Nadal and Fish. Fish did not show up for the first set-and-a-half and looked to be sleepwalking through the match and overawed by the occasion. His first serve percentage was atrocious and he made some bad errors. But, after Rafa broke to open the third set, the Fish that got him to this round in the first place decided to show up. He started attacking the Nadal serve, especially the second, and brought his first serve percentage up. He started hitting huge shots and really could have made it an incredible match. Unfortunately, Mardy played the beginning of the fourth set like the first two, lost a break early, and couldn’t get it back. I don’t know that he would have won the fourth, but Fish definitely could have if he had played it like he played the third.
Nadal beat Murray pretty easily at Wimbledon last year and the scoreline was very one-sided when the two met in the semis at the French. But anyone who saw that match saw that Murray really challenged Rafa throughout. Nadal was just too much on clay. Murray has been playing some of the best tennis of his career since April. We know he can have the game plan and execution to beat Nadal. It just depends on Murray staying mentally strong and attacking the way he did in Monte Carlo and Paris and not overly-defensive tennis like he’s been playing here recently. This could be an incredibly close match. Murray wants to end Britian’s 75-year Slam drought. Nadal wants to keep World #1 and defend his title here. It’s so hard to pick Murray because while he has outplayed Nadal at times he never can seem to finish him off.
Prediction: Nadal in five
For my preview of the Ladies’ final, please click here.
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