Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Men's Quarter Final Preview

We are down to the last eight of the men's singles draw at Wimbledon 2012. The remaining big guns had some comprehensive victories in the 4th round, mixed with some scratchy performances. In keeping with the unpredictable nature of this year's competition, we should see some exciting quarter finals.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Florian Mayer (31)
Florian Mayer caused the biggest upset of the round of 16, beating the previously flawless Richard Gasquet in 4 sets of ruthless attacking grass-court tennis. It's heartening to see the German in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon after years of under-achievement on his best surface.

However, one can't escape the feeling that Novak Djokovic would certainly have been tested more against Gasquet. Mayer's aggressive approach lacks subtlety, and against Djokovic's brilliant return and counter-punching ability, he really has to have the game of his career, where everything he swings for - goes in. It's extremely unlikely to happen. While the defending champion will face more of a challenge than Viktor Troicki posed him, he will still go through in straight sets.

Roger Federer (3) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (26)
It's great to see the wily old Russian back in the quarter finals of a grand slam. It's even nicer to see a quarter final featuring two players with a one-handed backhand in today's power-packed era. Youzhny played a brilliant albeit long match against Istomin in the 4th round, and that is bound to be a factor in this match.

Federer had his first ever injury time-out in a grand slam match. For someone with his career and accomplishments, that is simply an amazing stat. Federer looked very convincing despite the scare apart from one wobble in the third set against Malisse, and Youzhny just doesn't stack up to him in any department. There might be a brilliant set of inspired tennis from the Russian, but ultimately Federer should have too much and win in 4.

David Ferrer (7) vs. Andy Murray (4)
For David Ferrer to reach the Wimbledon quarter finals is truly an impressive achievement. Even more impressive is the style in which he has reached this stage. He tactically outwitted Andy Roddick and then hammered Juan Martin Del Potro, two players who should have had the edge on him on grass. However, Ferrer has turned conventional wisdom on his head, allying his unsurpassed competitive spirit with some brilliant tactical play and deft touch.

Andy Murray has had his share of customary wobbles and drama at Wimbledon. His intensity has been excellent throughout, and his tactical nous has just been too good against some very tricky opponents that he had to negotiate in his draw. Nonetheless, Ferrer poses a different challenge for him, where Murray is going to have to be the aggressor on grass. Murray can't rely on his brilliant counter-punching against Ferrer, who isn't going to step in too much. While this would be an obvious problem on clay, as demonstrated in the quarter finals at Roland Garros, Murray's greater variety will take him through in 4 extremely competitive sets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (27)
Tsonga was probably expecting this quarter final to be against Rafael Nadal, so he must be fairly confident going in to this match against the dangerous Kohlschreiber. Tsonga looked uncharacteristically hesitant in the first two sets against Mardy Fish, before finally finding his range to make it this far.

I feel like Tsonga will really have to improve on his performance against a very good grass-court player. Other than a really tough match against his compatriot Tommy Haas in the second round, Kohlschreiber has looked really good in this tournament, following on from an excellent week at Halle in the lead-up. Kohlschreiber's serve can be extremely hard to predict, and his artistic backhand has delivered consistently in the tournament so far. His under-spinning slice has also been a major weapon, which will come in extremely handy against Tsonga. It could ultimately come down to whose serve holds up better, however current form suggests Kohlschreiber might have a chance of an upset in 5.