We are down to just eight at the most prestigious tennis tournament on the calender. After what seems to be endless days of rain and frustration, the Wimbledon quarterfinals are fully green lighted for Wednesday.
Tournament favorite Novak Djokovic has looked sharped thus far. Andy Murray, a winner today over Marin Cilic, caries with him the burden of Great Britain.
An ailing Roger Federer is out for a seventh Wimbledon title, but will his back allow it? JW Tsonga, so often hot or cold, has regained the form, for now. And David Ferrer, who completed his career Grand Slam today by blasting Juan Martin Del Potro, will play the role of spoiler.
It’s a good mix of players in the last eight, but unfortunately the mathups taste a little stale. Of the four only Ferrer-Murray offer any substantial intrigue, that is unless Federer’s back flares up. Then we could see some fireworks on this Fourth of July. Otherwise I fear things will be fairly straight forward.
So with that, here are my picks:
Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Youzhny
Like Xavier Malisse, I just don’t give the Russian Youzhny much of a shot even if Federer again has trouble with his back. Against the the X-Man, Federer at times could hardly move or bend over but the Belgian seemed more than complicit to hand Roger points and games by the bountiful. I think Youzhny will do the same should the back become an issue, fold up.
Federer, though, doesn’t sound very concerned about the injury.
“Honestly, I’m not too worried. I’ve had bad backs over the years,” Federer said Monday. “I’ve been around. They go as quick as they came. But of course I have to keep an eye on it now. I have one and a half days, which is a lot of time, to be quite honest, to work with. Two good nights’ sleeps and I’ll be 100 per cent on Wednesday. I’m pretty convinced, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to pull out the match the way I did.”
Back or no back, the Russian has lost all 13 encounters with Federer and that’s what matters. However, he has won some sets off the Swiss including a year ago at Wimbledon. Still I think if he can walk and serve Roger should get through this third straight test with a 30 something.
The pick: Federer in four
Novak Djokovic vs. Florian Mayer
I enjoy watching Mayer play because of his shotmaking ability and creativity. And on occasion the German can pull the rare upset like he did today in a dominating performance over an in-form guy like Gasquet. And the win put him into another Wimbledon quarterfinal some eight years after his first.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling for me right now,” said Mayer. “Eight years ago I was here in quarter, and now eight years later [here I am] again. So it’s a wonderful dream for me.”
Well, the dream is about to end. Mayer hits a good backhand and I like his return of serve plus variety, but Djokovic has been such a buzzsaw in his title defense and I don’t foresee a letdown here.
The pick: Djokovic in three
JW Tsonga vs. Phil Kohlschreiber
What is with the German invasion at Wimbledon. Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, Florian Mayer and now Philipp Kohlschreiber. Like Mayer, I also like Phil’s game. He has a beautful one-handed backhand, great movement and a decent forehand. And he knows how to play on the grass and beat the big names – he took down Roddick many years ago at the Australian Open among other upsets. But this is his first quarterfinal test at a Slam and he has a poor 1-5 record against Tsonga.
“I expect to have a very, very tough match. Maybe you will say I’m [the] favourite, because I [have] played against him many times,” Tsonga said. “But, like me, we have nothing to lose. I just have to play my game. For me it was difficult because last year I played well. I will play more relaxed.”
We know the Frenchman has a tendancy to go off the boil for a bit here and there, but I don’t think it will last long enough to allow Phil to sneak out a win. Tsonga’s power and big match experience win out in the end.
The pick: Tsonga in four
Andy Murray vs. David Ferrer
In by far the match of the day, Murray and Ferrer clash for a 11th time with two having split their previous meetings. Ferrer beat Murray last month in four during the French Open quarters. But that was Ferrer’s surface and Murray was struggling with that supposed back problem. Now we are on Murray’s turf, literally. But Ferrer will still be tough. The Spaniard just won a grass tuneup and today he destroyed a hapless Juan Martin Del Potro. What’s going on?
“To me he’s not a clay-court specialist,” said Murray. “He won last week on grass, so he’s won, what, eight matches in a row on the grass. He’s been in the semi-finals of Australia, I think semi-finals of US Open, as well, and now he’s starting to play better on grass. I don’t see him as a clay-court specialist at all.”
After getting pushed by Marcos Baghdatis Saturday, Murray had it on easy street with a weary Marin Cilic today. And against Ferrer it’s clear he is the favorite. Compound that with the fact Rafael Nadal is out, this could be a golden opportunity for the Brit to at least get to the final or maybe win the title. Who knows when another chance like this comes?
Ferrer, though, played Murray very tough in Australia last year on a surface I think is Murray’s best. He also beat Murray at the end of last year in London at the finals, a big fat ouch for the Scot. So David knows how to beat him and will if Murray’s off his game.
That said, I think Murray serves well enough and smacks just enough winners to get the job done. I’m not confident, but…
The pick: Murray in four
ESPN2/ESPN will have coverage of all four quarterfinals live starting at 7pm ET. Weather permitting.
WEDNESDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 1:00 PM Start Time
Roger Federer (SUI) v. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
No. 1 Court 1:00 PM Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Florian Mayer (GER)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
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