We are down to the final elite eight in the men’s draw. The quarterfinals tomorrow feature a number of guys we thought who would be there and a few we did not.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic are all still alive along with JW Tsonga and the Cinderella from Taiwan, Yen-Hsun Lu, who upset Andy Roddick 9-7 in the fifth on Monday.
Without a minute more let’s breakdown these four quarterfinals matches.
Roger Federer v. Tomas Berdych
After some early trouble against lesser players like Alejandro Falla and someone named Illija Bozaljac, Federer seems to have righted the ship winning his last two matches both in straights, beating Arnaud Clement and Jurgen Melzer. Today, Federer’s reward is Tomas Berdych, the same man who beat the Swiss in a thrilling third-set tiebreaker in Miami earlier this season.
For his part, Berdych didn’t look terribly sharp in a four-set win Monday over Daniel Brands nor in a five-set triumph over Denis Istomin in the third round. However, Berdych should now have the weapons, the confidence and the knowledge to beat Federer in a pressure situation, and he just reached the French Open semifinals earlier this month.
Berdych also was up on Federer at the 2009 Australian Open before he imploded. But those imploding days are long gone. Berdych is a new man. At least he should be.
Federer has won eight of ten meetings with birdy so Rog is the clear favorite. But this match is really tough to call. I so desperately want to pick Berdych to pull the upset but I’ll admit, I’ve been mesmerized by Federer’s sudden return to form the last two rounds. I think Berdych again gets rattled and gets tight at all the wrong moments and Fed’s out for revenge. It’s Federer in four sets.
Novak Djokovic v. Yen Hsun Lu
I’m a little surprised that Djokovic has made it this far. I thought Lleyton Hewitt would have taken the Serb out, but credit again to Novak. And now the draw has really opened up for Djokovic. Instead of Andy Roddick, who’s beaten Novak in their last few meetings, he gets a first time battle with party-crasher Lu. The 26-year-old Lu has to be on an all-time high after that shock Roddick win, but I think Novak, despite some patchy moments and some stomach issues against Hewitt, will get through this one in straight sets.
Djokovic won’t play as passive as Roddick did and I feel that Lu is content with his quarterfinal result.
Andy Murray v. JW Tsonga
Tsonga is ripe to snag the upset here. The England soccer, er football, team is out so the nation will (I think) turn its collective attention to Murray. And usually when that happens Murray disappoints.
But Murray thus far has taken care of business, efficiently and impressively. Granted he’s had an easy draw but I give Murray high marks for beating a hot Sam Querrey in straight sets. That’s a quality win.
Whereas Tsonga required five long sets to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov and four sets to beat both Fabio Fognini and Julien Benneteau, which tells me the Frenchman’s not at the very, very top of his game.
Tsonga did beat Murray at the Australian Open a few years ago – I remember that well because I picked Murray to win that title – but I think today Murray gets the win in four sets.
Robin Soderling v. Rafael Nadal
Sure, Soderling was pushed to five sets by a lesser David Ferrer on Monday – lesser only to Rafael Nadal. But after 24 hours to digest that wobbly win I’ll claim Soderling was looking ahead to Nadal. On grass Soderling should beat a clay courter like Ferrer in three quick sets.
After his French Open loss I really think Soderling wants Nadal on a more hospitable surface, which for the Swede is the Wimbledon grass. Now he gets him.
Nadal looked sharp against (a hapless?) Paul-Henri Matheiu on Monday, but otherwise he’s twice been pushed to the brink. First, it was Robin Haase who I think would have closed the deal had he not injured his knee in the fourth set.
Then on Saturday Phil Petzschner also took Nadal to five sets. Watching that match I never got the feeling the German could win, but the fact he was able to manage two sets against Rafa – who said he again had problems with his knee (and his arm) – gives me serious pause.
Of course the two met at Wimbledon back in 2007 and it was Nadal in five sets. Rafa’s a better grass player now but I think Soderling has improved even more.
So in this one I’m picking Soderling in four sets.
I initially thought Robin’s 2009 French Open final was a fluke but he’s proved me wrong on several occasions. Now, just a few weeks after knocking out a World No. 1 in the quarterfinals of a Slam like it was meant to happen, I think he’s going to do it again on Wednesday.
Those are my thoughts and my picks. Let’s see what happens.
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