On a day when former champions Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Serena Williams established themselves as firm favourites to lift the trophy, Milos Raonic of Canada, one of the dark horse left in the draw, came from two sets down for the first time in his career on the grandest stage in tennis as he downed the ever consistent David Goffin of Belgium 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes to reach the last eight.
The seven time champion from Switzerland began proceedings on the center court against the Nottingham champion Steve Johnson of U.S.A. on the American Independence Day, and faced two break points in the fifth gameof the opening set. Johnson could not convert them and paid a heavy price as Federer reeled of five consecutive games.
One break of serve was enough to seal the second set, but Johnson was rewarded for his efforts finally as he broke Federer’s serve for the only time in the match in the fourth game of the third set to take a 3-1 lead. He lost the advantage in the very next game and Federer broke decisively in the eleventh game to ward off an in-form opponent 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.
Federer is now tied at 306 wins in grand slams with the legendary Martina Navratilova and next faces the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia who advanced when his opponent Kei Nishikori retired trailing 1-6, 1-5 in what was a rematch of that final. The fifth seeded from Japan cited a rib injury that also forced him to withdraw from the warm up event in Halle.
Federer was followed on court by the defending women’s champion Serena Williams, who had recorded her 300th win in grand slams on the middle Sunday, and after a rain delay at 5-5 when the match resumed under the roof, the top seed ran away with the next eight games to beat the two time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-5, 6-0.
The third match lined up on Centre Court was one of the most eagerly anticipated clash of MARATHON Monday when eight matches each were scheduled in both the men’s and women’s round of sixteen. The 2013 champion Murray was in championship winning form as he dismissed the Australian Nick Kyrgios 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.
The Dunblane native, who finished runner up at both the Australian and French Open this year losing to Novak Djokovic, will now play the flashy Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga who advanced after compatriot Richard Gasquet was forced to withdraw in the seventh game trailing 2-4,0-40 in the first set. The seventh seeded Gasquet cited back spasms for the withdrawal.
Another Frenchman Lucas Pouille was the star of the day as the 32nd seed won a five set thriller 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 against the 19th seeded Australian Bernard Tomic in two hours and fifty five minutes. Sam Querrey, the man who sensationally knocked out Novak Djokovic on Saturday, followed up the upset with a 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Nicolas Mahut who had won a warm up event in Holland on grass. Querrey’s next opponent will be his rival from across the border, Milos Raonic of Canada whose fighting qualities were a revelation as the sixth seed rallied to beat the 11th seeded Goffin.
In a battle between two Czech players, the tenth seeded Tomas Berdych is tied at 2 sets apiece against the left handed Jiri Vesley. The 2010 finalist Berdych squandered four match points in the fourth set against the unseeded Vesley, the score reads 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(8), 7-6(9) in Vesley’s favour as he will serve first in the decisive fifth set. The winner will play Lucas Pouille in the quarter-final on Wednesday.
The following is the line up for the men’s quarter final with my pick mentioned first:-
Milos Raonic (6) v. Sam Querrey (28); Querrey leads 2-1
Roger Federer (3) v. Marin Cilic (9); Federer leads 5-1
Jiri Vesley (-)/ Tomas Berdych (10) v. Lucas Pouille (32); Vesley leads Pouille 2-0 and first match between Berdych and Pouille
Andy Murray (2) v. Jo Wilfred Tsonga (12); Murray leads 12-3
Serena Williams who is bidding to tie the record of Steffi Graf’s tally of 22, will now play the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who beat the American Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3 in the pre-quarter finals. Slovakia’s Dominica Cibulkova may have to postpone her wedding plans for Saturday as she used a thunderous serve and thumping forehand to upset the 2012 finalist Agnieska Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 5-7, 9-7 in an energy sapping contest.
The nineteenth seed from Bratislava is set to marry Miso Navara on Saturday, the day of the ladies final. She also won the Eastbourne title nine days ago and next plays the Russian Elina Vesnina who too overcame a stiff resistance from fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, 5-7, 6-1, 9-7.
Five time champion Venus Williams beat the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6(3),6-4 and plays Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan who ended the run of Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, winning 6-2, 6-4. The other quarter final pits the Romanian Simona Halep and the Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
Both won in contrasting fashion, while the fifth seeded Halep edged the promising American Madison Keys 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3; Kerber faced little resistance from Japan’s Misaki Doi in a 6-3, 6-1 rout. Kerber had saved a match point against Doi in a first round match in Melbourne where she went on to claim her maiden grand slam title.
Following is the last eight women’s singles line up with my pick mentioned first:-
Serena Williams (1) v. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Dominica Cibulkova (19) v. Elina Vesnina
Angelique Kerber (4) v. Simona Halep (5)
Venus Williams (8) v. Yaroslava Shedova
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]