Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic Headline Men’s Semifinals at Wimbledon

2011 Wimbledon Tennis Championships Men’s Semifinals
Friday, July 1, 2011, approximately 8:00 am, TV: ESPN2, NBC
All-England Lawn Tennis Center, Wimbledon, England
playing surface: grass
Defending Champion: Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic tries to advance to his first Wimbledon Final as he takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal battle in the other semifinal.

Unlike the women’s side, three of the top 4 men’s players in the world made the semifinals at Wimbledon. Defending champion and #1 seed Rafael Nadal, #2 Novak Djokovic, and #4 Andy Murray all made to teh semifinals. Only a stunning upset by #12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over #3 Roger Federer kept it from being a clean sweep for the top 4 seeds. Federer won the first two sets 6-3 and 7-6 before Tsonga came storming back to win the match, winning the last 3 sets by 6-4 scores.  It was the first time in his career that Federer had ever blown a 2 sets to nothing lead. The former 6 time champion has been eliminated in the quarters two years in a row on his best surface, signaling that he might be in the twilight of a brilliant career.

Nadal will take on Murray in one semifinal while Djokovic will take on Tsonga in the other semifinal. Here is a look at both matches and their odds courtesy of bodog.

#2 Novak Djokovic (-250) vs #12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+180)

Djokovic is 41-1 this year, with the only loss coming to Federer in the French Open semifinals. He has 7 titles this year including the Australian Open. Djokovic has never made it past the semifinals of Wimbledon in his career. Djokovic has dropped two sets in 5 matches to #32 Marcos Baghdatis in the third round, and to Bernard Tomic in the quarters. Besides Baghdatis, Djokovic has played only one other seeded player, #19 Michael Llodra in the fourth round. Djokovic has not played a tiebreaker set in the tournament.

Tsonga is 22-13 this year with no titles but he did make two finals in Rotterdam and in the London Queen’s Club on grass the week before Wimbledon. He hasn’t won since 2009 and is only in his second grand slam semifinal. He made it to the quarterfinals of this event last year. He was eliminated in the third round of both the Australian Open and French Opens this year. Besides the epic match against Federer, Tsonga has only dropped one other set in this tournament to Grigor Dimitrov in the second round. Tsonga also beat #7 David Ferrer in the fourth round on his way to the semifinals.

Tsonga, who is 6’2″ and from France plays a right handed style. Tsonga has beaten Djokovic 5 of the 7 times they have played, but they have never played on grass or even clay. They last played in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfianls with Tsonga coming out on top in 5 sets.  Djokovic is also 6’2″ and is from Serbia.

Tsonga matches up well with Djokovic but he might be in for a letdown after upsetting Federer in teh last round. Djokovic is playing the best tennis of his career and it should be enough to go to his first Wimbledon Final. Djokovic wins in 4 sets.

#1 Rafael Nadal (-225) vs #4 Andy Murray (+165)

Nadal just turned 25 earlier in the month and already has 10 Grand Slam titles. Granted six of them are at the French Open, but Nadal is still going for his third Wimbledon title. Nadal has said by the second week, the grass at Wimbledon plays more like clay, his best surface. Nadal is 45-7 this season with 3 titles. Besides the French he also won at Barcelona and Monte Carlo. He also has 4 runner up finishes this year. Nadal dropped 2 sets so far, one to #24 Juan Martin Del Potro in the fourth round, and one to #10 Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals. He injured his foot against Del Potro but was still able to get past Fish.

Pity Andy Murray who is the fourth ranked player in the world behind two of the best players in history and an up and coming superstar. Much like Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Karl Malone were unable to win championships due to the dominance of Michael Jordan in the ’90’s, Murray does not have a grand slam title on his resume. The 24 year old Scotsman is trying to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Murray won his first title in the Queen’s club event a couple of weeks ago. He beat Tsonga in the finals of that event. He also made to the finals of the Australian Open where he lost to Djokovic. He is 22-8 this season. Murray has made the semifnals the last three years at Wimbledon. This year he has dropped 2 sets in 5 matches. He beat #17 Richard Gasquet in the fourth round and unseeded Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals.

Nadal has dominated the series against Murray winning 11 of the 15 matchups in their career, including the last 3. Nadal beat Murray in the semifinals of the French open and Monte Carlo this year.  Nadal is 2-0 on grass against Murray, with both wins coming at Wimbledon, including the semifinals last year.

If Murray was ever going to pull off the upset over Nadal at Wimbledon, this would be the year. Nadal has shown signs of fatigue after deep runs the last month. However, one would be foolish to bet against Nadal. I think Rafa wins in 4 sets.

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