Gentlemen’s Quarterfinal Recaps
The best match of the gentlemen’s tournament thus far was contested on Wednesday between Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet. The Frenchmen’s game is much more suited to grass, but it was still a surprise to see Wawrinka, who’s proven to be a big match player, surrender a lead to Gasquet, a career underachiever without anything higher than an ATP 250 title to his name.
Wawrinka was in control in the fourth set, up two sets to one, but stunningly dropped serve to lose the set. After Gasquet broke for 5-3 in the fifth and predictably failed to serve it out, he stunned the tennis world by keeping his nerve from then on, refusing to fold in must-hold situations. He finished the night by breaking Wawrinka a final time to win 11-9, his first win over a top ten opponent (aside from one in Davis Cup) in a year and a half.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray all cruised through to the semis in straight sets. The No. 1 seed Djokovic’s opponent, Marin Cilic, had settled in, but at 4-5 on serve in the second set, a Djokovic shot caught a very lucky netcord to give the Serb a 0-30 opening and went on to break for the set.
Meanwhile, Gilles Simon couldn’t duplicate his sublime performance against Tomas Berdych, playing a lackluster match against Federer, with the only bright spot being that he broke to stay in the second set, marking the first time all tournament that the 7-time Wimbledon champion dropped serve. Federer broke right back and rolled from there.
Finally, though Murray wasn’t dominating in defeating unseeded Vasek Pospisil, he submitted a quality performance and was never in danger, especially when factoring in that Pospisil was unfairly called for two critical time violations.
Wednesday’s matches set up an unbalanced slate for Friday: Djokovic will be a gigantic favorite against Gasquet, while the much-anticipated blockbuster semifinal between Murray and Federer is practically a toss-up. More on those tomorrow.
Aga Radwanska (13) vs Garbine Muguruza (20)
Radwanska’s resurgence continued in the quarterfinals against Madison Keys, as she used her armada of shots and angles to keep Keys, not yet comfortable on grass, off balance. It was a match Keys easily could have won, but those are the type of wins an in-form Radwanska is able to pull out. There’s a reason she’s nicknamed “The Ninja.”
Muguruza has been impressive in her own way, rapidly figuring out how to win on grass at just 21 years old. She hasn’t had a single easy opponent, starting with Varvara Lepchenko and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before taking out Angie Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Timea Bacsinszky.
Radwanska has to be the favorite for two reasons:
1. She’s been in this spot before, with this being her third Wimbledon semifinal and fourth overall, while it’s Muguruza’s first.
2. More importantly, Radwanska’s crafty game could bother Muguruza in the same way it did Keys. Muguruza is a better mover (Keys is a better server), but both are tall–a disadvantage on the surface that requires the lowest balance–and hit better when not being moved side to side.
So long as Radwanska can protect her second serve, she should win.
Serena Williams (1) vs Maria Sharapova (4)
This one is much simpler. Sharapova famously hasn’t beaten Williams since the 2004 Wimbledon final, as her lack of movement gets severely exploited against Serena. Her other major weakness is her serve, which never returned fully after her shoulder reconstruction, and can get attacked rather mercilessly by the world No. 1.
On clay, a case could be made for Sharapova. However, grass is her worst surface (see the demolition she took in the 2012 Olympics), and it’s difficult to even come up with the argument for an upset.
Sharapova is a great competitor, but so is Vika Azarenka, and not even a flawless set and a half from her was enough to end Serena’s bid to hold all four Slams at once.
A rematch of the 2012 Wimbledon final appears to be in the cards.