Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wimbledon 2013 Men's singles semifinals preview

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (Photo credit: Carine06)
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (8)

Del Potro celebrates
Del Potro celebrates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The two men remaining in the draw yet to drop a set face each other in what is potentially an epic semifinal. Both are in superb form, ruthlessly disposing tricky opponents in the quarterfinals. Novak Djokovic goes up against Juan Martin Del Potro, in a match that will whet the appetite of tennis lovers.

Djokovic was in brilliant form in his quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych, dominating all aspects of the game. Even more impressive was how after a brief lapse that saw him two breaks down to begin the second set, he recovered with verve and swagger to get both breaks back and go further to win the set 6-4. It was pure psychological control over an opponent. The world no. 1 simply doesn't know when he is beaten.

Juan Martin Del Potro had injury doubts before his last two matches, and it only got exacerbated when he fell down in the first game of the quarterfinal against David Ferrer. Playing Ferrer even at the best of times can be physically challenging. That Del Potro recovered from the fall to pulverize Ferrer 6-2 and 6-4 in the first two sets, makes one wonder how much unfulfilled potential there still is in the Argentine. In the third set just when it seemed like Ferrer was going to extend the match into a fourth set, Del Potro came up with some stunning winners to seal his passage into the semi-finals.

Djokovic beat Del Potro thoroughly in the US Open quarters last year. However, Del Potro did beat Djokovic at Wimbledon to win the Olympic bronze last year. I think this match is going to be much closer than many expect. Djokovic just about has the edge, however if Del Potro's serve fires like it did against Ferrer, and if he can win some points from his backhand as well, this match could go five sets.

Jerzy Janowicz (24) vs. Andy Murray (2)

Jerzy Janowicz
Jerzy Janowicz (Photo credit: Yersinia)
If he hadn't already after some impressive upsets over the best players in some Masters 1000 Series tournaments, Jerzy Janowicz has certainly announced his arrival on the big stage. The man many believed would take Roger Federer's place in the semifinal after the Swiss Maestro's upset, has duly delivered on that prediction.

With the fastest serve on tour currently, backed up by a rasping forehand, Janowicz was made to play on grass. Players of Janowicz's ilk used to regularly upset players at Wimbledon in the 90's. Since the domination of the big four however, it has been rare to see someone with Janowicz's style in the semis. For that we should be thankful, after all sport should mirror the best aspects of life, and variety is the spice of life.

Whether Janowicz's big serve will be as successful a weapon against the best returner in the men's game is up for debate. The only chance Janowicz has of causing an upset against the local favourite will be to go all out on the attacking front, however that might just play into his opponents hands.

As far as Murray is concerned, he received the ultimate wake-up call against Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals. There were moments when it looked like Murray wasn't going to escape. Somehow, he raised his game at just the right time, and came through with a thrilling victory after being two sets down.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray (Photo credit: Carine06)
A come from behind victory can really build up a player's momentum and confidence at the business end of a tournament. Murray can draw inspiration from Federer's victory at Wimbledon last year after he was two sets down in an earlier round against Julien Benneteau. Murray clearly has the superior game to Janowicz, with the exception of the serve. With Murray's excellent defence and touch, Janowicz will clearly struggle to live with the Scotsman in rallies.

One also has to factor the nerves that the young Polish man will bring into his first grand slam semifinal. On the other hand, Murray will relish the support of the crowd, and after his last win will believe destiny is on his side. Janowicz might take a set to a tie-break, but Murray should prevail comfortably.
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