Novak Djokovic has yet another historic weekend of tennis in front of him at Wimbledon. Just two wins away from equaling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 20, Djokovic will look at what’s left of the men’s draw and it should leave him with a nice, fat smile on his face.
Sure, there’s danger but I think he’ll take it. Denis Shapovalov, Hubert Hurkacz and Matteo Berrettini have no experience going this far at Wimbledon, none have ever even been to a Grand Slam final and combined they are 0-10 against Djokovic.
That said, anything can happen. So what’s happening on Friday? The men’s semifinals.
Matteo Berrettini v Hubert Hurkacz
I picked Berrettini at the start of the event to make the final and I’m going to stick with that pick here.
Hurkacz, in my mind, is a tougher out for the Italian than Roger Federer. As we saw in his win over the Swiss, he has a complete game and can hurt you from just about anywhere on the court.
My issue with the Pole, though, is free points on his serve. Berrettini gets a ton while Hurkacz, who is just as big at 6’5″, isn’t quite that ace machine.
And right now, that Berrettini serve is in rhythm.
Off the ground, I also think Berrettini has the bigger forehand. So the two biggest shots on the court will be the Berrettini serve and the Berrettini forehand. If both those are firing I think it will be tough for Hurkacz to overcome.
Hurkacz, though, will be in it. He just beat Daniil Medvedev, he destroyed Federer and back in April he had a great run winning Miami. I know he’s had a 6-match losing streak on the clay and into the grass, but he’s clearly put that out of his memory bank. So he’s playing with a lot of confidence.
Berrettini is as well. He won Queen’s, has won 10 straight, has been to a Slam semifinal before, has two grass titles and is serving huge right now.
I know Hurkacz beat him in Miami over two years ago, but I can’t draw much from that. I’ll take the Berrettini weapons here and I think Hurkacz might feel a little post-Federer letdown.
The Pick: Berrettini in 4
Novak Djokovic v Denis Shapovalov
Credit to the lefty Shapovalov for breaking through this week at Wimbledon. The 22-year-old held off Murray in that super-tight first set, then got on a roll sweeping through the Scot then rolling Roberto Bautista Agut. Yesterday, he took out Karen Khachanov in five sets. So he’s playing well and having a really good grass season with a Queen’s semifinal and a Stuttgart quarter to add after his missed Paris due to a shoulder.
But Djokovic is the clear favorite here. He’s 6-0 against Denis and just to (or two) close to the finish line here to be denied. I know he didn’t look great against Marton Fucsovics, but the guy still won in straights pretty comfortably!
And in best-of-3, with Shapovalov’s streakiness, maybe he has a chance, but over five sets it’s going to be too big of an ask to maintain that kind of level against a player like Djokovic (who is a more than a few levels up from who Shapovalov has played thus far!).
Shapovalov plays high risk, high reward and I don’t think that’s a winning plan against the best defensive player in the sport in Djokovic. And Djokovic has been serving so well and Shapovalov’s return is a weakness.
All that should spell trouble for the Canadian who has done great to get this far, but eventually falls in this one. I think Shapovalov gets hot for a set, but that’s it.
The Pick: Djokovic in 4
FRIDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 1:30PM
1. Matteo Berrettini v Hubert Hurkacz
2. Novak Djokovic v Denis Shapovalov
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