First, let’s hope today we actually have some matches that are not marred by injury. Yesterday, every match had some sort of injury issue. Hopefully we’ll have a clean day of tennis.
On to the matches of the day.
Andy Murray and Marin Cilic have already advanced into Thursday’s semifinal round – note that they will enjoy two days off before the Sunday final compared today’s winners who’ll play their semifinal Friday night. Fortunately with the roof there are no rain issues!
So today we get Roger Federer v. Nikolay Davydenko and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v. Novak Djokovic. The two “dream” top half quarterfinals most of us were hoping at the start. Three of the four have been to the finals here before with two – Federer and Novak – walking away with the title.
Roger Federer v. Nikolay Dayvdenko
Davydenko was the hot man coming in. A favorite by many to take home this title after his consecutive tournament wins in London and in Doha where he beat both Federer and Rafael Nadal at both events. But as I’ve said all along, those are not Grand Slam events. They are not among the four biggest tournaments of the year like the Australian Open is. So the stakes here much far higher than they are in Doha and in London – though London is an important stop.
Head-to-head, we are all familiar with Federer’s domination over the Russian. He had won 12 straight before Davy got him in London and Doha, and now Roger has to be out for revenge, and no place better to do it than at a Slam.
I think Davydenko matches up well with Federer. He takes the ball early, hits with precision and angles and gets a lot of balls back. But what Davydenko lacks is Federer’s strength, and that is being mentally tough in the Majors. Federer has proven he can win these type of matches – the guy’s reached 22 straight Slam semifinals – while Davydenko hasn’t. Nikolay reached four semifinals in his day but was never able to get to a final. Why? Nerves? Poor play? Bad luck? The opponent? Or some sort of combination?
For me, it really comes down to his nerves. This match in some ways in on Nikolay’s racquet. He’s beaten Fed twice in recent meetings, he’s playing the best tennis of his life and up until the Fernando Verdasco match, he was dominant all week. But in that Verdasco match the cracks and the pressure began to show. And in a best-of-five, not best-of-three, I think Federer prevails here. Federer in four.
Novak Djokovic v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
This rematch of the 2008 Australian final is the toughest of the four quarterfinals for me to call. I like Tsonga, I want Tsonga to win and the JW’s had his share of success against Novak. In six meetings JW’s beating Novak four times.
But Tsonga is an incredibly streaky player who when he gets on a run can be as good as anybody, and then of course as bad as anybody when things go wrong. And this week we’ve seen some of that. Tsonga looked great in patches and ok at other times. Tsonga, who had some wrist issues coming in, beat Haas in the fourth round in four sets and then Almagro in a very tough five-setter leading me to wonder if there may be some physical issues for the fragile Frenchman.
No such issues should exist for Novak who’s cruised through a draw devoid of any real competition. So he should be fresh and fit though somewhat untested.
Overall, Djokovic’s a better player is better than JW in just about every department. Novak’s has all the shots and if he plays his game he’ll be able to ride out JW’s wild swings and emotion. No doubt, JW will be whipping the crowd in a frenzy. Like their first meeting in the Melbourne, this is best-of-five sets, under the lights and it’s not suppose to be hot, so I think that familiarity/similarity favors Novak. The pick is Novak in four.
As for the women, Venus is stuck in a third set with Li Na. I like Venus to get by and I’ll take Serena in straight sets.
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