We are winding down at the season’s third major as men’s quarterfinals final take center stage Wednesday at Wimbledon. And the favorites are still alive after Novak Djokovic filled out the elite eight bracket today by completing his 0-2 comeback win over Kevin Anderson 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
After leveling things last night, you knew it was only a matter of time before the big South African blinked, and he did just that at 5-5 with two double faults to hand Djokovic the only break of the set he needed.
So the Top 4 seeds are still alive along with US Open champion Marin Cilic, Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, and the other Canadian, Vasek Pospisil. But will it be the Top 4 seeds in the semifinals? It’s hard to pick any real upsets here, but I’ll try…
No. 1 Novak Djokovic v No. 9 Marin Cilic
For the second straight year Novak Djokovic’s path to the title takes him through the tall, dangerous Marin Cilic. A year ago Cilic led 2-1 in sets before Djokovic won 12 of the last 16 games to run away with the match. And he now he comes in leading the series with Marin 12-0.
But Cilic is now a Grand Slam champion, armed with more confidence and more belief. He whipped Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori during one of the most stunning Slam runs you will see last fall. Shortly after, though, he succumbed to a bum shoulder which kept him off the tour until late March. But the Croat is slowly rounding into back into championship form.
He is beating men he should but the issue I have with him right now is he hasn’t defeated a Top 10 player since the US Open. So that task is big on Wednesday.
Djokovic has been strong, but let down a little against the big-serving Anderson. Had he been down to a better player than Anderson, that probably would have been it. After the scare, I don’t think Djokovic finds himself in that kind of trouble again. In fact, I think he rolls.
The pick: Djokovic in three
No. 2 Roger Federer v No. 12 Gilles Simon
On another surface I’d give Gilles Simon a better chance. I just don’t like him on grass against someone like Roger Federer who has looked extremely good thus far.
Federer hasn’t lost serve and he’s own Simon winning their last five meetings, tough some with difficulty. Simon also hasn’t been a player we see much this late in Slams – this, just his second career quarterfinal. So unless Roger has a terrible day, this one should be straightforward.
The pick: Federer in three
No. 3 Andy Murray v Vasek Pospisil
AFter three 5-set wins and lots of doubles play, I have to wonder just how much Vasek Pospisil has left for 2013 champion Andy Murray on Centre Court. Pospisil has a big serve and a decent enough game, but Murray’s a perfect antidote to what the Canadian likes to do.
Yes, Murray’s played some patchy tennis, particularly dropping that third set against Andreas Seppi, and that could very well happen again tomorrow. But I don’t think Murray will suffer another letdown like he did a year ago in this round.
The pick: Murray in three
No. 4 Stan Wawrinka v No. 21 Richard Gasquet
In the closest match of the day to call, one handed wizards Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet collide. Take your pick on the backhands, I don’t know.
The two have split two prior meetings with Stan winning in five on clay in 2013 when the Frenchman blew a two set lead at Roland Garros. Gasquet won the other meeting back in 2006 at the Paris Indoors.
And this week both are playing exceptionally well. Wawrinka’s benefited from what I think was a kind draw, and he’s the only guy left who hasn’t dropped a set.
Gasquet’s had a tougher road beating Dimitrov, then Nick Kyrgios. And unlike Wawrinka, he’s been to the semifinals at Wimbledon before. He’s also got more grass experience.
But Stan’s the hot guy right now. After that French Open win, he has the confidence and I think he has just a little more power than Gasquet does in every department. And he’s been serving great all week. If there is some rain, that could temper the ball bounce which should help Gasquet. Still, in a tight one…
The pick: Wawrinka in four
If there’s any chance for upset I think it’s Gasquet beating Wawrinka. Especially if the court speeds up after a rain shower. Maybe Novak slumps and Cilic takes advantage. I don’t see Pospisil winning at all over Murray. And like I said, if Federer starts missing, Simon is certainly a guy who can take advantage.
Otherwise, we should be in for a heck of a semifinal!
ESPN and ESPN2 will have live concurrent coverage starting at 8am ET.
WEDNESDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 1:00PM
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Andy Murray (GBR) 
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Marin Cilic (CRO) 
NO.1 COURT – 1:00PM
Gilles Simon (FRA)  v Roger Federer (SUI) 
Stan Wawrinka (SUI)  v Richard Gasquet (FRA) 
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