Djokovic v Sinner, Alcaraz v Medvedev; Wimbledon SF Picks And Pans
A really good semifinal line-up awaits Friday at Wimbledon with four Top 8 players including the Top 3.
Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner all made it to the final weekend in scathed and intact. Out final four is basically chalk (i.e., no surprises).
During the fortnight, however, we did get a few headscratchers. Chris Eubanks was the latest breakout star. The 27-year-old made full use of that wiry 6-foot-7 frame and his smarts to disrupt all foes. Credit to Medvedev for solving the Eubanks problem.
The other touted Americans didn’t fare well as Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe flamed out. Casper Ruud thinks grass is for golf. The Canadian duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are broken. As is Andrey Rublev. But otherwise, the last four were probably picked by 95% of prognosticators.
As for what happens now?
Jannik Sinner v Novak Djokovic
Djokovic is the clear favorite but I just don’t feel like he’s at his prime best. Meanwhile, Sinner might have just run through the easiest draw ever to reach a Grand Slam semifinal — not playing anyone in the Top 75!
Still, both guys won five matches and have built confidence during the event. But after last year’s collapse and the fact Sinner — even though he’s made his first Grand Slam semifinal — doesn’t have signature win to his name at this level, I can’t pick him here.
Maybe next year, maybe in New York, but not now. Not on grass on which Sinner is his least experienced.
Going back to the French, the way Djokovic all but made Alcaraz crumble to bits had to have sent a reminder message to the locker room, and Sinner probably was among the first to get that message. Add in the bitter taste of that blown 2-0 lead from last year, and it all spells trouble for the 21-year-old from Italy.
Djokovic is beatable. His game, I don’t think, is as good as it was 10 years ago. He’s not quicker, not strong, his serve isn’t better, etc. But mentally he’s at his
I do think Sinner will be fine in the long run. He’ll win Slams. Just not this weekend.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic in 4
Carlos Alcaraz v Daniil Medvedev
I’ve never liked Medvedev on grass or faster surfaces, but credit to the Russian, he does well. Alcaraz calls him an “octopus” and that’s what makes Medvedev so good. He uses that frame and wingspan to track down some ridiculous shots.
The problem for Medvedev on grass is that he stands so far back. When you give up that much real estate on grass, it’s an easy drop volley every time, just like Eubanks did.
Medvedev did change tactics by moving forward more, and he will 100% have to do it again against the dropshot-minded Alcaraz to have any chance.
Alcaraz also has a punishing serve, as big of groundstrokes as Eubanks, way better backhand and he’s much quicker. Medvedev has no chance if he thinks he’ll win just playing defense, that is unless Alcaraz misfires.
The 20-year-old did overhit a few times against Holger Rune and I expect he will tomorrow. But not enough.
For Medvedev to win, he’ll have to eclipse his 28 ace output against Eubanks and stand on the baseline to guard against the dropshot. Medvedev’s a smart guy, so it will be interesting to see what he decides to do.
With Alcaraz, we already know what he’s doing.
The Pick: Alcaraz in 4
I’m most intrigued by Alcaraz-Medvedev because I do think after Alcaraz destroyed Medvedev in that Indian Wells final, Daniil will come up with something new.
Alcaraz is still young so things can get to him — like Djokovic did in Paris.
As for Sinner, he’s got the game. The skillset is there, but I don’t think he has the mental belief yet. But if Djokovic has a really bad day and Jannik serves well, I guess it’s possible.
We’ll find out Friday!
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