Roger Federer might be talking like he can still win Grand Slams, but the reality is it’s a longshot, if that. Federer, who will turn 30 in about 45 days, is not only racing against the clock but up against some serious competition for Slam hardware.
Not only is there Rafael Nadal but also Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and today we added a new name to the Fed nemesis list, JW Tsonga. Tsonga, who had only beaten Federer once in five occasions, that in a fluke three setter at Montreal, overcame a two set hole to knock out the six time Swiss Wimbledon champion today in London.
How did it happen? Simple. Tsonga didn’t collapse like Federer and the rest of us expected him to do. With Federer leading by two sets the match looked over and in the bag. Especially when ESPN2 kept banging us on the head with the graphic that Federer was 178-0 in Grand Slams after winning the first two sets.
But credit to Tsonga. He didn’t care. And in some ways Fed didn’t either. The almighty Federer figured the match was over as well but it wasn’t. Tsonga, instead of fading away, just hit the ball harder and harder, especially off the forehand. And it worked.
In the end it was Tsonga scoring the upset of the tournament rocking Roger 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The last three sets weren’t even that close as Federer appeared hapless, resigned to hoping Tsonga would make it easy and self-destruct, but he never did.
As the match ended it was Tsonga was the aggressor, Federer the hope-r.
Federer says he played well and he did. However, Tsonga took it to another level partly because Federer stood back and let him.
So now Federer leaves Wimbledon with a second straight quarterfinal loss and a sixth straight Slam without a title. As 30 approaches, the drum beats louder that that the end is near and I have a feeling that there will not be any more Slams to come.
That said, I’m not ready to close the book on Roger completely, but I just think the odds and the numbers are all against him, especially in this current tennis landscape.
Speaking of that landscape, Rafael Nadal, as suspected, brushed off those injury concerns and beat up on Mardy Fish in four sets 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Nadal may not be playing his best tennis but there isn’t a better big point player the last two years than Rafa.
On Friday, Nadal will meet for a 16th time Andy Murray. The Scot easily dismissed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to a third straight Wimbledon semifinal.
Murray has played well in his last two matches and looks well in form, but can he beat another Spanish lefty?
As for the other semifinal, Tsonga meets Novak Djokovic in a rematch of their 2008 Australian Open title bout. Djokovic didn’t look all that convincing in a scratchy four set win over 18-year-old future star Bernard Tomic but he did survive.
Tomic and his unique, off pace game and world class backhand, showed today why I think he’ll win multiple Grand Slams. Tomic had Djokovic on his heels at times and for a brief moment – the Australian was up a break in the third – had Djokovic in deep trouble. But Djokovic pulled it out in four sets and he’s back in the semifinals for a fifth straight slam.
So it was too good to be true, we didn’t get the “Fab Four” like we had in Paris. But what we’re left with isn’t that bad either.
Looking at the women’s semifinals tomorrow, I think both matches are fairly even. All four players are playing well enough to win the title, but I’ll stick with my final pick and go with Maria Sharapova to beat Sabine Lisicki and in an mild upset Petra Kvitova to defeat Victoria Azarenka. Who wants to hear a screamfest on Saturday? No one.
ESPN2 and NBC tag team for the the women’s semifinal coverage tomorrow.
THURSDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 13:00 Start Time
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) v. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
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Nadal Wins Twice, Faces Murray Next at Monte Carlo
Nadal Survives 5 MPs to Turn Away Nalbandian at Indian Wells
Roddick, Djokovic Tumble on the Queen’s Turf, Nadal Survives; Federer on Falla in Halle