Friday, July 14, 2017

Wimbledon QF - Brace Yourself, There's a Storm Coming

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Welcome to the men’s semi-finals at Wimbledon 2017. We have a lot to talk about, as now there's a clear favourite for the men's title. If it isn’t Roger Federer then this BACKSPINNER is Mary from the song "Thunder Road."

We have come to the final days of Wimbledon. On Friday we had the men’s semi-finals. But first let us have a look back to Wednesday, talk about the men’s and mixed doubles. The seedings in mixed double are whacko. The defending champs don’t get seeded? The Australian Open champs were unseeded at the French.

By the time we got to the quarters we had only three seeds left. We usually get left with four quality pairs, but the seeding needs to be worked on. The semifinals included the top two seeds and the defending champions. But how is it that every slam the top eight seeds do so badly? At the last slam, the 7th seeds won. Last year Kontinen and Watson were also unseeded. They beat the 15th seeds in the final.
The mixed tournament at Wimbledon is the biggest in the world. There are 16 seeds, and six rounds of play. You would think that with the biggest seeds getting a bye the results would be better.

It is the same story in the men’s doubles, too. The seeds just don’t last. Wimbledon is the slam with the funkiest results. Every year we have about four surprise winners across the events. Yesterday we had the battle for the top ranking. It now belongs to Marcelo Melo. He saw off Kontinen/Peers with a lot of help from partner Lukasz Kubot. It was a seesaw match. They looked the better pair for the first four sets. But the top seeds fought hard and dragged it into a 5th. But the 4th seeds had survived two long five setters already.

Serving second did it for Henri Kontinen in the end. He and Peers lost 6-3, 6-7[4], 6-2, 4-6, 9-7. While the epic three and a half hour match was going on, with the crowd going wild, the other semi-final was taking place.

Over the course of more than four and a half hours, Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic triumphed over Frank Skugor and Nikola Mektic. They decided early on to beat the 9-7 mark set in the other match. They won 4-6, 7-5, 7-6[3], 3-6, 17-15. They won eight more points, but both teams broke thrice. There was a point in that last set where five consecutive games went by without a single point against serve. Eight of the last ten games before the final break did not see a point against service.

It was a classic match with the 16th seeds making their maiden slam final. And now we come onto the main items for today - the men’s singles quarters.

You could see how tired both men were by the end of this. Querrey had played his third five setter in a row. Murray had been carrying a long term injury. In the beginning, Sam was tight, he was nervous. He had a real chance this time. At 3-3 in the second set Murray broke and it looked as if the tide was going to flow in one direction from there. But Querrey swept the last three games of the set to tie it up. He only lost five more points from a set and a break down, to win the second. The third went without a break. Murray edged the breaker 7-4 and looked to have all the momentum. But his legs were gone and the American won the last two sets 6-1, 6-1. It was an incredible match, where Murray looked like he was going to win but choked away advantage after advantage. It is clear that Murray’s heath and form are two huge issues. The answer might be six months off. It worked for Agassi. It worked for Federer. It worked for Rafa. Hey, Rafas done it multiple times. Murray won just 40 per cent of his second serves, 15 per cent behind Querrey. He needs to work on that area, too. It was just a total mess. While the American went on to face Cilic, Murray faces a long, hard summer of trying to defend points.
Last year Federer was broken, tired after his epic with Cilic, out of form and about to chuck in his whole season. It took Raonic five sets to do it then and even then he nearly didn’t. This year Federer has reigned supreme. He has been in charge all year, winning with reckless abandon. He wanted a measure of revenge and got it, winning 6-4, 6-2, 7-6[4]. Federer won 90 per cent of his first serve points, 20 more than Raonic. Out of 89 return points the Canuck won just 19. They both served 11 aces. This was a supreme serving day from the Swiss master. In the first set, Roger had break points on his opponent's second and third service games. He broke in the 5th game and never looked back. In the breaker he got out to 3-0, but a god-like passing shot changed the momentum. Federer won seven of the last eight points to take it. Querrey is going to win the aces race barring something extraordinary from Cilic. But Raonic will place third there. Federer has cracked 10,000 career aces at this tournament. He is close to second all-time, being just 100 or so behind Goran Ivanisevic. The Canadian played alright but, like in Australia, was unable to worry his opponent. Nadal outclassed him then and Fed’s done it here.
On Friday, Cilic became the first player seeded 7th to make the final. It’s a bizarre stat. In this match it was a server’s duel. Both players broke three times, but it was the Croat who won 3-6, 7-6[6], 7-5, 5-7, 6-1. It took three and a half hours to advance to his fourth career semifinal. Considering he was 7-8 on the year going into Istanbul, this has been an extraordinary tournament for him. He served 33 aces to 17 and hit 74 winners to 54. He won 30 per cent of his return points, one more than his opponent. In the end the big difference was actually Nadal. The 15-13 match took it out of his opponent. The Croat has been gifted a lovely draw and he has taken advantage of it. His forehand is looking very good and he can definitely trouble Federer on Sunday. But how will he handle the occasion? He has played so much more tennis than the Swiss.
Novak’s health has gone. Maybe it was playing Mannarino the day before and then playing again the next day. Up a breaker and 2-0 Nole called it quits. He had a great match win against the Frenchman the day before, too. But his health, like Murray, is not what it was once upon a time. He has a fight on his hands to get back to world number one, too. Where does the Serb go from here?


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