We are down to just eight in the men’s draw at Wimbledon. Roger Federer returns as does top seed Novak Djokovic and defending champion Andy Murray. But the tennis world shook yesterday when top ranked Rafael Nadal got bounced by flamboyant teen Nick Kyrgios in a fourth round stunner.
The 19-year-old from Australia fired 37 aces in a very cool, very comfortable, very calm win over the 2-time Wimbledon champ.
After rolling into Wimbledon on a 3-match grass losing skid, Rafa had looked vulnerable all event. Lukas Rosol I thought would have closed out the Spaniard had the nerves not gotten the best of him in the second set of their match last Thursday. Martin Klizan and Mikhail Kukushkin also took first sets off Rafa so the cracks were clearly there. But I felt the stage would get to Kyrgios, however it never did. And instead the youngster simply fed off the occasion. It was impressive to watch and exciting to see the birth of a new tennis superstar.
On grass Nadal just wasn’t able to make much of an impression on the return of serve. As he’s been doing all year, Rafa was again leaving service returns and baseline shots short and doing that on grass if far more problematic than say on clay. And Rafa paid for it.
So with Rafa out, the last three Wimbledon champions still remain, but will one of them emerge victorious at the season’s third Slam? Or will they, too, suffer the same fate as Rafa? On to my QF picks…
Andy Murray v Grigor Dimitrov
I was a little skeptical of Murray’s ability to back up his 2013 Wimbledon title run, but the Scot has been playing so well there the last few years. With the title already in the bag, a free-swinging Murray hasn’t dropped a set and after two easy matches he looked good in wins over Den Bosch champ Roberto Bautista Agut and then the tower of danger Kevin Anderson.
Dimitrov’s star is certainly on the rise. He was a quarterfinalist in Australia and he just won Queen’s. And he beat Murray earlier this year in Acapulco. But I can’t see the Bulgarian winning three sets against Murray, especially not at Center Court Wimbledon.
As always with an entertainer like Dimitrov against a great defender as Murray, it should be a fun match. But the youngster’s run ends here. Murray’s just too steady for Grigor.
The Pick: Murray in three
Novak Djokovic v Marin Cilic
Djokovic shook off any injury concerns (shoulder/wrist) by pounding JW Tsonga on Monday. Looking like his old self, Djokovic dominated Tsonga and I expect the same today against Cilic.
Marin is playing better, more importanly serving up to his potential under the guide of 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, and he’s convincingly beaten both Tomas Berdych and then Jeremy Chardy in straight sets. But the Croat’s 0-9 against Novak give me a lot of pause. And with Rafa out I think the Serb has to be more focused than ever to get back in the win column this weekend.
The Pick: Djokovic in four
Milos Raonic v Nick Kyrgios
In the toughest pick of day, the two youngest remaining men meet for what could be the first of many Grand Slam semifinal berths. I love Kyrgios’s game and emotion but right now I have to rate Raonic’s serve, ability and experience just a little bit higher.
Against Rafa, Kyrgios had the comfort of knowing he’d be able to handle Nadal’s serve. He won’t have that same luxury against Raonic. And I think ultimately the Canadian, who granted doesn’t return well himself, will wear him down.
The pick: Raonic in five
Roger Federer v Stan Wawrinka
With the expectations reduced on the green earth, Stan is back to playing decent tennis again this week. The Australian Open champ has won two straight set matches this week to reach his first Wimbledon quarterfinal. But after wins over Denis Istomin and Feliciano Lopez, the road really stiffens today against grass king Roger Federer.
Federer has beaten Stan 13 of 15 times losing to his friend only in Monte Carlo, most recently this April. And this week Federer’s been playing some of his best tennis of the year if not of the last several years. A good draw has helped, but Roger hasn’t lost a set nor has he lost serve. That probably changes today. Still, the results should go Federer’s way. It’s his surface and his domain. And this is a Major.
The Pick: Federer in four
Of the four matches, I’d be most surprised if Cilic won over Novak. I think Roger’s a strong favorite against Stan and Murray should get through so we should see a Novak-Murray rematch in the semis. The Raonic-Kyrgios is close to a toss up but I give the Canadian a slight edge. Regardless of who wins, Federer has to be pleased not to have to see Rafa there on Friday.
On TV if you are up early in the U.S., the women’s quarters are on now. The men’s SFs follow on ESPN and ESPN2.
WEDNESDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 12:00PM
1. Simona Halep (ROU)  v Sabine Lisicki (GER) 
2. Andy Murray (GBR)  v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 
3. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)  v Roger Federer (SUI) 
NO.1 COURT – 12:00PM
1. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)  v Angelique Kerber (GER) 
2. Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Marin Cilic (CRO) 
3. Milos Raonic (CAN)  v Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
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