Friday, July 6, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Men's Semi-finals Preview

It's down to the last 4 men at Wimbledon 2012. Despite Rafael Nadal's shock exit, the semi-finals contain 4 of the top 5 ranked players in the game, so one can expect some high quality tennis on Friday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roger Federer (3)
The defending champion has been playing some brilliant tennis at Wimbledon in the last 2 rounds. It's almost as if Djokovic needed an early wobble against Radek Stepanek in the third round to get going. Since then he simply hasn't looked backed, playing nine sets of almost perfect tennis. He hasn't even needed a tie-break to win a set.

Federer had a scrappy first week, but eventually he has come to the party. In his quarter-final against Youzhny, Federer was close to his best on grass. The serve was firing on all cylinders, and as the match progressed, the Swiss maestro started to express some exceptional variety from the baseline, completely bamboozling his opponent.

Djokovic has beaten Federer at the semi-final stage of the other three grand slams. However, he has never played Federer on grass. Federer is not likely to get as good a chance of winning Wimbledon again, and there is a possibility that he might be as motivated as he was at Roland Garros 2011, when he beat Djokovic in their first meeting at the French Open.

Djokovic faces a completely different challenge after playing power-hitters like Troicki and Mayer. Federer is going to be his toughest opponent on grass, and it's an examination that he is not likely to pass. Federer to win in 4 extremely close sets.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) vs. Andy Murray (4)
In pure tennis terms, this match has a 'After the Lord Mayor's show' feel to it. However, in terms of what's riding on it for the home fans, this is clearly the biggest semi-final of the day. Andy Murray is in the semi-final's for the fourth straight year, and this is his best chance to reach the final.

Tsonga has done really well to repeat last year's achievement of reaching the semi-finals. However, in almost every match he has played, he has looked unconvincing for half the match. His big serve has kept him alive in some very tough situations, before his heavy-hitting has come to the fore to close out tricky matches.

Whether his serve will be as effective a weapon against the best returner in the game is another question altogether. Murray's baseline play has been exceptional throughout Wimbledon. His variety of shots, including some tremendously placed and perfectly timed drop shots, along with some trademark passing shots, have compensated for some poor serving this tournament.

Murray played some inspired and courageous tennis against the astute and competitive David Ferrer in the quarter-finals to pull through in a great match. Tsonga is not half as strong tactically, while the mental aspects of his game can fade completely if his opponent reads the serve and passes him. That's exactly what Murray will do in three close sets, enabling him to become the first British men's player to reach the Wimbledon final since 1938.