Can The New Blood Spoil A Federer-Djokovic Final? Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | July 3rd, 2014, 2:42 pm

Let’s talk Wimbledon men’s semifinals. It’s an Old v New theme as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic try to meet in the Sunday final as 23-year-old first-time Slam semifinalists Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov try to play spoiler.

Before we get to Friday, a quick recap of the quarters.

Federer did what he had to do to beat Stan Wawrinka. Even after losing the first set, I never really felt Roger was in trouble. The same couldn’t be said for Djokovic who fell down 2-1 in sets to Marin Cilic. The big Croat had Novak in his crosshairs but appeared to run out of fuel in the end.

After an impressive run which included a stunning upset over Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios was also out of gas allowing Milos Raonic to come away with a comfortable four set win between two monstrous servers.

And in the big surprise, Grigor Dimitrov blew out a pancake-flat Andy Murray. Murray said he got off to a slow start, and that’s true, but he never really got into the match. Credit to Dimitrov who showed some serious chops taking down the defending champion on his home turf. But can Grigor continue the run?

On to my picks…

Novak Djokovic v Grigor Dimitrov
Last year Djokovic stumbled into the final against Murray after a 4 hour, 45 minute semifinal grinder with Juan Martin Del Potro. Now again Novak goes into a big Wimbledon match following a 5-setter, but this time he should be fresh. And he’ll need to be against the upstart Dimitrov who is in the midst of his best career run. The Bulgarian captured the Queen’s title last month then has backed it nicely at Wimbledon culminating by his Murray shocker, his ninth straight match win.

We know he has the shots and the confidence, but Grigor’s now starting the walk the talk. Murray may not be the same guy he was a year ago, but it’s still no easy feat beating the Scot on Center Court Wimbledon. Just ask Djokovic who couldn’t manage a single set against Andy a year ago.

But Djokovic has played pretty well thus far, as well. And those niggling injuries don’t seem to be bother right now. His rival Rafael Nadal is gone. Murray is out. And he’s got to be hungry for some hardware after the French disappointment. Plus, even though Grigor’s a different player now than he was a year ago, he does lead 3-1 in this series.

So for now I’ll take experience over youth. But Novak better be on his mark and on his serve.
The pick: Djokovic in five

Roger Federer v Milos Raonic
After years of chatter, Milos Raonic is finally having the breakout season we thought he would. The Canadian has too big of a serve and too big of a forehand not to be a regular factor late in Slams. And we’re going to see a lot more of him. So like it or not (yes, he can be boring to watch), we better get used to him.

While Raonic may be around for a while, who knows how much time the 32-year-old Federer has left in the hourglass. So this weekend is extra important.

Roger’s looked strong en route to the Final Four, but he hasn’t really had any true tests. Wawrinka isn’t great on grass. Gilles Muller has a big serve but little else and the rest, well, meh. Raonic will bring more: game, smarts and power. But he lacks experience and he’s never ever beaten Federer.

Roger leads Milos 4-0 including a win over the Canadian on the grass at Halle last year in a final set breaker. Raonic’s problem has been and still is breaking Federer’s serve. Federer’s been serving so well all event – losing serve just once – so I have to wonder how a poor returner like Raonic is going to break Federer’s serve? It’s unlikely, that’s how.

On the other side, Federer’s had a history of mowing down bombers on the grass like Andy Roddick, Ivo Karlovic, Marat Safin, Mark Philippoussis, Robin Soderling and even Pete Sampras. So my gut feeling is Roger will have more break chances than Milos, and maybe cash one or two in. And that should be enough.

That said, Federer is 32 and he’s not reading those rockets like he use to. And he’s still been awfully shaky of late in breakers. But I think the good draw for Milos catches up with him here. Like Grigor, he’ll have to wait a little longer. Experience wins out.
The pick: Federer in 4

Overall, I think both Federer and Djokovic could lose. Both youngsters are definitely saying the right things and playing well. And I just don’t think Djokovic is the same guy he was a few years ago nor is Federer. So there’s real hope if you are rooting for the upset(s).

ESPN will have the coverage live starting at 8am.

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52 Comments for Can The New Blood Spoil A Federer-Djokovic Final? Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans

jane Says:

nice write up sean; pretty much agree, especially with your take on fed/milos. with nole/grigor i am just not sure. nole’s match versus tsonga was excellent so if nole brings that form i like his chances. but he can’t have lapses like he is prone to just lately. indeed, in the cilic match he had LOADS of break chances in the third set (7, i think…) and let them all go except for the one before the tiebreak. i don’t really agree that marin ran out of gas though, and nor does marin. he himself noted a particular point at the beginning of the 4th wherein he touched the net on a smash volley and lost the point. he was broken that game and nole never looked back. he changed his shoes, got a grip and dominated. marin said he was mentally troubled by that point and let it bother him too much. maybe in the 5th he was tired, but meh, i don’t think so. marin had fairly straight-forward matches up to the quarters, the only tough one versus berdych. i just think nole tightened up his game and at the same time cilic lost focus.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m predicting the reverse: Djokovic in 4 and Federer in 5. I think Djokovic faces some resistance but gathers himself to run away. As shaky as he’s been, he played very well in the last 2 sets against Cilic.

As for Federer and Raonic, I foresee a barn-burner. I don’t know what it is but I just feel like both will end up relying on their serves so heavily that breaks will be few and far in between.

madmax Says:

I just think that Novak was a typical Novak when he was “down”. He just finds that extra gear and from nowhere, Bang! He is back. Just when you think he is in trouble. He fools you. He regroups. He starts to command again. Says:

I’m with Ben. I expect Novak’s match to be close for a set or two, and then I think Novak breaks Grigor’s will.

Fed will not break Milos’ will. That one will be fought till they’re slipping in blood.

I LOVE these semifinals: old vs new times two!

Tennis Fan Says:

Would love to see Fed conjure up the Fed of old and win the title this year … it is probably his last big change at another Slam.

Sadly, I will take Raonic in 5 because he is so determined to win and he has the tools to become a major force on tour from now forward …

Don’t know if Dimitrov can keep his mental believe together yet to take out Djokovic … I believe he has the skills to do it now and this match is almost too difficult to call. I guess I will take Djokovic in five … but if Dimitrov wins he is going to do it in four or less.

jane Says:

hmm, not sure if nole was “down” in those 2 middle sets so much as cilic was “up” madmax. at least that’s how i saw it. cilic began nervously. he gathered himself and started serving like he can in the second. nole had one bad game which cost him set 2. that’s how it is against big severs. things change on a dime. the worst was set 3 when nole let chances go. but he was never “down” or struggling at all. a bit mentally distracted by noise perhaps, which he needs to just block out. anyhow, he played like he should in sets 4 & 5. it could be that in addition to cilic losing some focus, maybe sean is right that he was a bit tired. not gassed, the 3rd took a lot out of him, including mentally, according to him.

interesting that some of you think it’ll be the other way round with these predictions. looking at their h2hs, both pairings have met four times: nole has lost 1 match and 2 sets to grigor, whereas fed has lost 0 matches and 3 sets to milos. but with a big server it’s not surprising to lose a set suddenly, even if it was played fairly evenly. i tend to agree with sean’s prediction that the nole/grigor one will be the tougher battle, but who knows.

Daniel Says:

The thing is if either Raonic or DImitrov wins the first set they can lose in 3 easily. They will start bombing and depending on how well Djoko and Fed control the storm will decide their fate later.

I won’t be surprised if both Fed and Djoko wins in straight but if they lose in straight I will be shocked. Think both will be 4 sets, they can always still a tiebreak and a few points made a difference specially with how they serve.

Think Milos has a better chance of upsetting Fed than Dimi on Djoko. Is a match Djoko can’t lose right now, not with all that is at stake for him.
Federer also, but he is aged in if Milos enter in a serving groove, not much one can do.

Hippy Chic Says:

I cant see Novak losing and i think it will be 4 tight sets,i think Federer/Raonic is 50/50,if Fed plays the way he has all tournament then i think he will win,however even though Rogers the better grass court player,i still think hes more vulnerable against the up and coming young players than what Novak is,my two cents….

jane Says:

daniel, but don’t you think grigor has the better game than milos, i mean, more rounded, more weapons? that’s why i see it as more likely to be a hotly contested semi. milos has a booming serve but not that much else to hurt fed with right? though he has improved under ivan, especially his forehand and his return is better too but fed’s been serving really well.

Hippy Chic Says:

I also think if Federer makes the final he will also win the title….

Giles Says:

New blood versus old bones! Hmmmm. Let’s have a great final with the younglings fighting it out. It would certainly make a change.
Come on Grigor!
Come on Milos!

Giles Says:

PS. Looking forward to the Sean jinx! Lol

Vinod Says:

i think a grigor can upset than milos upsetting the FED … let’s see :

Vinod Says:

Grigor way better than Milos … No offence

Hippy Chic Says:

I think this is Federers best chance to add number 18,i think he really wants this….

Hippy Chic Says:

I also think the Fed/Raonic match is more on Feds racket and about how he plays….

Daniel Says:


Yeah, but Grigor can have more lapses. It’s kind of guarantee Djoko will break him in this match. As Fed x Raonic can easily go to 4 tiebreakers. Grigor is still not consistency in a match as raonic is shwoing this days.

I see Djoko easily winning one of the sets 6-3 or 6-2 but nit the contrary. Djoko will just return too many balls and serves. At least my take. More points played. Raonic and Fed will be a few decisive pijtns in the end of sets and tiebreaks. If we see 3-4 breaks of serve in total in that match will be too much I think.

andrea Says:

as far as upsets go, i also feel there is a greater chance with dimitrov taking about novak. not sure why i feel that way. ….just gut. although if fed/raonic sets end up in breakers, it could turn around quickly. but fed seems to be patient with big servers. he neutralized roddick time and time again. of course, he’s older now, but they aren’t the threat to him than say, nadal.

jane Says:

^ agree andrea.

daniel, i hear what you’re saying. but sometimes it’s those very matches, that are more topsy-turvy, that can get dragged out to 5 sets and then it’s anyone’s match. grigor already came through one of those versus dolgopolov and he’s a good server and returner. hmm. i don’t know. like i said above, if nole plays like he did versus tsonga, i like him to come through. but if he plays like last round, i think grigor could win.

with fed/milos, i see it more like andrea. fed’s patient. he’s been there/done that a million times with big servers, and he’s almost always on the winning end in those matches. fed has more trouble with grinders. rafa has more trouble with big servers. i just don’t see fed losing – at all. maybe 4 sets if milos sneaks one. and milos could do that; he is very determined. fed will just have to continue to serve well, and he has been all tournament, so that bodes well for him. Says:

Everyone is unanimous that Grigor is better than Milos, except the damn tour, where Milos has consistently had better results at Slams, Masters and 500s. But what do results really mean anyways?

jane Says:

well it goes back to the discussion on the other thread. but, point taken tv. i guess it’s down to one big weapon in contrast to a number of weapons that may not be fully on song?

Dan Martin Says:

My picks are up at I have similar feelings to Ben Says:

And my Executive Summary of this auspicious event:

jane Says:

great shares dan martin and tennisvagabond: both insightful. i liked the “tastes like maple syrup” denouement.

trigg Says:

Hi, jane. Glad you’re here again. Says:

Thanks Jane! Keep posting tomorrow!

Actually… I think I have to PVR from now on- I’m out tomorrow morn and then canoeing all weekend!

Trigg Says:

I hope now it is OK (no moderation).

Hi, jane. Glad you’re here again. Hope I’ll manage to watch the semi, and that Novak will play well.

Trigg Says:

Before I leave…

Novak is under tremendous pressure. It’s not only the FO effect, although the FO damaged him very much for years now. Novak is very ambitious, and he slowly sees the prospects to find a place among the greatest of the game fading away. He hasn’t won a slam for a long time, too.

I don’t know what happen against Cilic, but Cilic is an underrated player. At his best, he plays a very aggressive all round game, and since he has improved tremendously his serve, he has more self believe and I have no doubt that he will finish this season in the top ten.

I didn’t watch Dimitrov lately, so remembering how he played a year ago, I just can’t understand how Murray lost against him. Dimitrov is just the kind of player Murray likes to beat.

If Novak plays the kind of game he showed last year before the final, if he manages to keep his composure, it will be a three setter. He should probably be in good shape and tested: he played against great servers (Tsonga and Cilic), against a willy baseliner (Simon), against a serve and volley player (Stepanek), so I guess he has found his rhythm.

About Fed: it is a tough test, especially since he hasn’t played against a similar player in the previous rounds. Wawrinka was probably the best server he had to face. But Fed is someone that has lost one match (or two?) against Roddick, one against Karlovic, never against Raonic or any of the biggest server of his generation. So, I guess he will bid his time and wait for an opening.

All enjoy a pleasant Wimby! Be back for the USO.

jane Says:

hi ya trigg… happy trails. may you find poetry in your travels.

Eric Says:

An interesting fact is that Djokovic hasn’t lost before the semis at any of the four slams for more than four years, except this year at the AO. That’s better consistency than anyone else on tour, including Rafa.

Nevertheless, since 2011 he’s only 2-5 in slam finals, even though he’s a fantastic 7-2 in semis. (Rafa has won four new GS titles during the same span, some of them, of course, against Djokovic.)

In short, Djokovic’s results have become the new gold standard (over Roger, basically) in reaching the tail end of slam second weeks, but it hasn’t helped him lift too much hardware at the cost of getting through his “Big Four” peers. (Again, since 2011.) Where I’m going with this is that the Djokovic-Dimitrov SF showdown has the potential to really live up to the “Changing of the Guard” hype. If Dimitrov really manages to take Novak down this late in a slam, it is justly going to be construed as the first solid achievement of a legitimately-emerged superstar. Again, Djokovic is 7-2 in slam SFs since the end of 2011.

By contrast, the Raonic-Roger match just doesn’t have the same significance, in my opinion. I had to eat my words about Milos’ ability to get this deep into Wimbledon, but it was always true that he should have been a major grass threat. But even if Raonic wins, it won’t really have anything like the same epochal significance that, say, Sampras losing to Roger in 2001 did (in retrospect). (And we can expect to grow sick of hearing that comparison trotted out if Roger does lose on Friday.) It will just be Roger losing another slam match against someone he had a perfect record against. In other words, it would be a part of the story of Roger’s senescence, not, in my opinion, Raonic’s emergence. Just my take.

As for my actual predictions– well, Roger and Djokovic are the better players and should win. I would be surprised if Dimitrov doesn’t snag a set. Raonic-Roger is trickier to call because it’s easy to see every set going to a tiebreaker, and Roger plays TBs like crap these days, so it’s hard to say. The key will be whether Roger manages to win a set or two at 7-5, 6-4, or the like. I don’t think he’ll take 3 sets in tiebreakers. So, hopefully Roger in 4, but…

Gordon Says:


You are wrong to think Raonic only has 1 big weapon. That was true 18 months ago but his coaching team have upped his game in several departments, including mentally.

I still think this is Rogers last hurrah and he is going to make the most of it, but Milos is not going away, and it’s just a matter of time before he begins hoisting hardware.

Dan Martin Says:

Federer undoubtedly has a great opportunity here, and he is nearly 33 years old. Still, his 2014 play makes me think he will have some impact in 2015. He has 2 titles, he’s in his 2nd slam semifinal of the year, he was runner-up at 2 Masters 1000 events & runner-up at a 3rd event in 2014. He’s playing well enough if the draw is favorable at the USO in 2014 or the non-clay slams in 2015 he could sneak through. Of course having 5 of the 7 matches needed to win already under his belt, means that this is an incredible opportunity.

Eric W. Says:

It’ll be a Raonic-Djokovic final. Fed will probably face three tiebreaks, lose two and lose serve in another set to bow out 3-1. Nole is not frightened of Dimitrov (he would’ve been of Murray), which is why he’ll play more relaxed than he did against Cilic and send Grigor home 3-0 in less than two hours. The final, on the other hand, is a wild card, though I suspect it’ll be Raonic’s first GS title. His attitude this fortnight oozes readiness for the next step. Dull, yes, but Lendl was pretty dull also and it didn’t hurt him a bit.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

I’m not sure why people bring Roger’s stat against Roddick now. Looking at Roger’s age and his last match against Roddick at Wimbledon, we could assume he does not read the big servers as he used to read during is best years.

Few guys who beat him recently have mostly been big servers. Guys like Tsonga, Stratovsky, Berdych were the ones who could beat him at wimbledon. We can’t merit with Roger having success against big servers in recent years.

Also looking at Milos match, he is developing as a complete package, with Serve as a primary weapon. He is moving well for a tall guy. I would not underestimate him in the semis, saying Roger just need to blunt his serve.

It’s a 50-50 match, but with more on Roger’s hand. If Roger can serve great, and more importantly come forward, he could get through.

Eric Says:

NK, yep, it’s just dumb to bring in Roddick. Five years ago, sure, Roger was 100% reliable against big serves. This is 2014. The last 2 years have been a story of Roger losing to players he owned 5-0, 10-0, 15-0 records against — even as he’s also achieved pretty good results. If he loses to Raonic, only a moron would be SHOCKED. If he wins, though–no one should be surprised, either. I like Roger’s chances. But this isn’t 2007.

pogi Says:

my prediction…

baby fed vs FED in the finals

…old man will beat the baby

Hippy Chic Says:

Jane i said hi to you on the other thread,and nice to see you posting again,dont i get a hi too lol :))…

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4/Trig hi to you too….

Michael Says:

It is tough to call these matches one way or other with little to seperate these players. But Sean has a bias towards experience than youth and I have to endorse him. Novak Vs Dmitrov – I think Novak has the edge and I do not think it would be a five setter. Novak should complete the job in four.

As regards Roger vs Raonic, well this is slightly tough to call. But in my opinion, Roger should come through if he plays like he did against Wawarinka. All that he needs to do is to keep the ball in play for Raonic to do mistakes. But, if it goes to five, then Raonic might hold the edge. If Roger has to win, he needs to complete the job in four utmost.

Michael Says:

I do not think we can judge the level of play by Dmitrov relating to the match against Andy where he managed to dump him in straight sets. Andy played a horrible match and gifted to Dmitrov on a platter. Dmitrov might not get similar help from Novak who will set the stage on fire. Although an upset cannot be ruled out, I see that here as a remote possibility.

Eric Says:

I have to agree that Novak is a much stronger favorite than Roger. Djokovic is not always good enough to win. But he is a known quantity, while Roger, well… Roger has won slams and lost to nobodies in the past few years. He lacks Djokovic’s consistency.

As a “Fedfan,” I can only hope that he makes the most of this opportunity– it would be great if he won another French or US Open, too, but Wimbledon does seem his best shot at another major.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

All that he needs to do is to keep the ball in play for Raonic to do mistakes.

Michael, This is a big insult to Raonic, who so far played quite decent tennis to reach the semis. I watched his highlights against Kei. He has a good all round game. To say roger just has to put the ball in is beyond acceptable. Roger has to use his mind and not go for mindless baseline rallies. He should use the variety and move Raonic around the court and use his Forecourt skills to close the points.

Raonic, might not be as good a passer as Novak or Rafa on the run. That’s the oppurtunity Roger need to look for, not just get the returns on the court. These days, just returning does not work out.

jane Says:

sorry hippy chic, i must’ve missed that. hello, and enjoy the matches!

Okiegal Says:

Rafa has beat Milos 5 times….. 4 hard court and 1 clay. How did Rafa beat him and not Kyrgios….both dynamic servers? I guess when Rafa was lucky enough to get the racquet on the ball, he ran him to death. The big guys can’t hold up to that for very long. I think that is what Roger will have to do too.

Okiegal Says:


You are very popular on TX…..everyone was missing you. By jove, I think you have a bigger fan base than Rafa!! You go girl! LOL I think I will take a break and see if anyone misses me……but doubt they would…….sigh…

Michael Says:


It was just a slip of the tongue. I meant that in a different context. If that is assumed to be a big insult to Raonic, I apologise for my gaffe. You have given productive tips to Roger. Let us see how it goes. But I think it will all boil down to the quality of serve. If Raonic has a good serving day, then it would be pretty difficult for Roger to break through and in tie breaks which are decided by a single point, you never know ? Even a net cord would do the trick. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed on this match as you are !!

Gordon Says:

It’s interesting to read comments comparing Milos to Karlovic and Lendl, with the tags dull or boring attached to them, when really it is Sampras that Raonic most resembles.

I thing a lot of people are reading the ace count and dismissing the Canadian as being a one trick pony. Today watch his hands at the net. Also watch his ability to adjust his game on the fly if things are not going his way. Milos has been steadily improving these past 18 months, especially mentally.

No one ever predicted Karlovic would be winning Grand Slams; he lacked the needed mobility to be a top 10 player. Credit to him that he has made a return to the top 50.

With Milis Raonic it is not if he will win a slam, but when. People are throwing stats around such as if you do not win a slam by a certain age your chances for multiple titles are low blah blah blah.

Perhaps we are in a golden age of tennis where 3 guys – Fed, Rafa and Nole – are all top 10 all time contenders and have wound up ruling the roost this past decade. It has taken a while for a breakthrough but it is happening very soon.

But not today, in my opinion.

Much in the same way I said it didn’t matter that Nadal failed to sweep the clay tourneys prior to Roland Garros this year, I think Federer on grass has to be treated with the same respect. The man is 8-0 in Wimbledon semi-finals and until he falters I think he has to be considered the favourite at SW19.

This is the same blog chatter that was prevalent two years ago. It was said he was too old, etc. he proved everyone wrong then and he is back in good form after a mediocre (poor by his standards) 2013.

There are two more steps for Roger to go. We will see how he handles part 1 in a few hours. The 4-0 record against Raonic is not that important, for Raonic is that much better now. But Roger has found a way to remain a factor.

This should be exciting.

Hippy Chic Says:

Jane thanks i will its been a great tournament,that goes for the mens and womens side,and the best is still yet to come….

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal your very sweet but i doubt that very much lol,anyway about you taking a break if you feel like a break then fair enough, the emotional energy and arguments can get a bit too much sometimes,but you have a great raport with many of the fans on this forum,and i would certainly miss you and the banter we share my kindred sister :))….

Daniel Says:

Djoko should have brokem this game. Made 2 bizarre mistakes and got pissed off.

Okiegal Says:


Thanks, Sista! Michael visits with me a lot. Once in awhile I say something that stirs up some emotions. I love to chat……but for the most part, I’m doing a David Letterman type monologue!! LOL But glad you did decide to start posting again! Missed you a bunch. Got over our guy’s loss…..thought Rafa dealt with it better than I did. When your fav loses, it puts a damper on the rest of the tournament. I did get caught up on a few things. Onward and upward to hard courts!! OKI

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