Wimbledon rain aside, how the hell does either Rainer Schuettler or Arnaud Clement have an opportunity to get to the semifinals of another Grand Slam? Weren’t these guys long gone, washed up years ago? Hasn’t the strength of the tour improved enough over the years to prevent such players from getting this far? To both their credits they didn’t completely go away and they’ve hung around long enough to get back to an earshot of a Slam semifinal. And I actually like Clement.
Schuettler or Clement will emerge from what I thought was a toss-up section of the draw which featured Andy Roddick, James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko and my pick Dmitry Tursunov.
But enough about Clement/Rainer, let’s talk about the big hitters that are waiting for them in the semifinals: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and another surprise, Marat Safin.
I will admit, before this event and even my preview I gave Safin no chance of getting back to this stage of a Slam or even passed Novak Djokovic. The guy has basically hasn’t done squat since his title run in Australia in 2005, and with age and injuries – yes the guy has a lot of game – I didn’t see another run like this. But like the two guys locked at 6-6 in the fifth, credit to Safin for not packing up the bags and shutting it down.
Of course I have to wonder if there’s not a little sibling rivalry at play with Marat after his little sister, Dinara, stole the family thunder reaching the French final last month. Coincidence? I’m guessing Marat was none too happy playing second fiddle in the family.
But Marat’s revival ends Friday against Roger. Federer’s got too much game right now, too much at stake and on grass the big guy simply does not move well enough to hang with Roger. And if Fed serves well that match should go straight sets. Maybe Marat eeks out a tiebreak. However if for some reason Fed comes out flat, Marat’s more than capable of taking advantage and stealing a win here, but again I think Federer will be on his game.
There’s no doubting that Nadal has been on his game. The Spaniard destroyed very formidable opponents in Andy Murray and Mikhail Youzhny, and he took care of business beating Ernests Gulbis and Nicolas Kiefer.
If you are still in disbelief over Rafa’s grass court abilities – and a few weeks ago there were many such posters – good luck to you. Rafa’s the real deal here and I’ll even say it again, while so many have been looking at Mr. Federer as the GOAT, keep an eye on Rafa. In five years time who knows.
As for the courts, lots of talk of them being slower and from my couch they surely seem to be. And the slower courts help Rafa of course. Roger, however, is of the opinion that they are the same speed as they’ve always been, but I don’t buy it. My guess is that he’s just saying that for his own psychology. Remember, this is where Roger’s won five straighttimes and when a guy like Rafa’s closing in you need every edge you can get, so by Roger telling himself and anyone that will listen that “nothing has changed so no reason I can’t to win again” won’t hurt. Reality in the form of Nadal might hurt. Though the rain today should help quicken things up a little bit.
As for the women, Venus is now thru. I fully expect Serena to do the same once it dries. Williams sisters final ahead.
You Might Like:
Murray v. Gasquet Highlights Promising Wimbledon Fourth Round
All-Williams Final Calling at Wimbledon; Heavy Rain Coming?
Gasquet Crumbles Giving Murray First Slam Quarterfinal Spot; Federer, Nadal Dominate
Words on Wimbledon 2008 – Week One
Previews: ATP Zagreb, Joburg, Santiago; Fed Cup