Tomas Berdych vs Andy Murray:
Of his two potential semifinal opponents, Murray has a losing record against one of them. It isn’t against #1 seed Roger Federer, who was upset in 4 sets by Tomas Berdych. No, Murray has a 2-4 career head-to-head record against Berdych. Berdych, when he is confident enough in himself, has the power to really just hit past Murray’s defense. Confidence and consistency are Berdych’s real problems. He has the talent and power to beat any of the top 4 players on any given day. And while his career record against the current top 3 is actually quite poor, Berdych has kept those matches close. The issue is that Berdych rarely even puts himself in a position to challenge these players. In his career, he has only reached 6 Slam quarterfinals. The list of bad losses in early Slam rounds for Berdych is far too long.
Murray, on the other hand, has been a perfect example of consistency since he made his name on the tour. He has reached 7 of the last 8 Slam semifinals. The big question for Murray is if and when he will finally win a Slam. Great Britain has been Slamless since 1936 and Murray is widely viewed as their best hope in a very long time. Murray, though, can’t seem to get over that last hump in the later rounds of Slams. He certainly looked much closer than he ever did in this year’s Wimbledon final, which is a very good sign that working with Ivan Lendl has been good for him.
As far as who has an advantage in this match, it really is tough to tell at this point. Murray has had some times in this tournament where he has looked quite poor, especially to start his last match against Marin Cilic. Berdych, even when he beat Federer, did not look spectacular. The level at the end of the Berdych/Federer match was much higher than at the beginning, but Berdych really was aided in that match by a lot of Federer errors. I do feel, though, that this match is on Berdych’s racket. If Berdych can hit the ball confidently and with power, then he really can just hit Murray off the court. But if Berdych can’t raise his level that high, then Murray will easily run Berdych all over the court and will wear the big Czech down.
Prediction: Berdych in 4
David Ferrer vs Novak Djokovic
How much more can David Ferrer impress us? Ferru, as he is affectionately called, just never stops fighting. He is a joy to watch just because of his competitive spirit. He, along with Lleyton Hewitt, are the two players that you will never see give up on a tennis court. Ferrer has been a very good player his entire career, but he has just only become better and better these past few years. In 2011 he turned himself into one of the most consistent players on tour and almost never loses to players that he shouldn’t. This year, though, he has begun to go deep in Slams and challenge the players that he doesn’t usually beat.
The most encouraging thing about Ferrer this tournament, though, is that he is 5-1 in tiebreaks. Ferrer has always been known as a player that has trouble in clutch situations, especially in tiebreaks. And at moments during this tournament it was no different, like when he needed 26 points to win a breaker against Igor Sijsling. But he has looked solid and clutch throughout this tournament, including his quarterfinal against Janko Tipsarevic, which was probably the best match of the tournament so far and which Ferrer won in an epic fifth set.
None of that will help him against Djokovic, though, who has been playing at a nearly unbeatable level all tournament. Aside from tiny blips here and there, no one has been able to really touch Novak. Del Potro came close to challenging him for a set-and-a-half, but even he wasn’t ever a real threat to pull off the upset. Ferrer actually has had some success against Djokovic in the past, but not much since Djokovic found his new level in 2011. Ferrer will run down a lot of balls and make Djokovic work for every point though. If anyone can play enough long points and hit enough awkward shots to throw Djokovic off his rhythm, it is Ferrer. And while a player of Ferrer’s caliber and heart deserves to have more on his career resume than 4 Grand Slam semifinals, I just can’t see Djokovic’s game falling off enough here for Ferrer to win this match. But if Djokovic leaves any room, Ferrer looks like he is ready this tournament to take full advantage of it.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3
For my women’s semifinal preview, please click here.