It’s been 4 years since Federer has won a Grandslam. The Federer express has been stuck on station No. 17 for 16 slams now. Since then, there have been a few deep runs at the majors that have got the entire Federer nation shouting their lungs out and praying their hearts out for an 18th major title for their hero. Particularly at the fast court majors – Wimbledon and US Open, Federer does inspire confidence that he could further add to his major count.
Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic
One such promising run in the US Open 2014 was absolutely crushed by Marin Cilic at the semifinals stage. Federer remembers it – only too well- as he referenced it multiple times in his interviews after his pre-quarterfinal win. Federer, definitely, seems up for some revenge. Unfortunately for him and his legions of fans, he’s a full decade removed from his best tennis and revenge these days, is not instantly served as is attested by back to back losses to Dominic Thiem in the last few months.
Add to that, Federer has been very questionable with his fitness, with his 2016 campaign never really taking full flight. He seems to be slowly finding top gear and his match today against Cilic will need him to be operating in that gear for much longer periods than he has displayed in most encounters, this year. Cilic has raked up some impressive numbers on the serve and some might even say the numbers look scary. His challenge will be to keep up those numbers against Federer on his best surface.
Cilic will do well to take a look at Zverev-Federer match in Halle – which will be the kind of game and strategy Cilic will be hoping to exeute against the 7 time Wimbledon Champion. In their last encounter – in 2014 US Open – Cilic was absolutely unplayable with his big serves and strong hitting off both wings.
Prediction: Federer will come out firing to prevent Cilic from repeating his 2014 massacre, but Federer’s game, thus far this year says that Cilic will have more than one opportunity to get a grip on the match.I think he will use one of those opportunities to take Federer down in 4 sets.
Sam Querrey vs Milos Raonic
Milos Raonic must have heaved a deep sigh when he saw Djokovic taken down by Querrey in the 3rd round. His quarter started looking a lot less lethal that moment. Maybe it was that pressure that caused him to go 2 sets down against David Goffin in his 4th round match. For all practical reasons, Raonic looked to be on a flight back home. To his credit, he dug out of that uncomfortable position and finds himself in a tussle with that man Sam Querrey.
Sam Querrey, after his history shattering win against the World No.1, Djokovic, experinced no hang-overs or let down from what must, surely have been, a very euphoric victory for his team and himself. He was all business in his win over Nicolas Mahut – an experienced grass court campaigner. Querrey could be more than a handful if he keeps up that kind of form.
Prediction: Raonic should be feeling like he’s got a second life – having gotten out of jail against Goffin and a lot of times, good players can use that momentum and attitude to make impressive runs and achieve something substantial. I believe Raonic will do exactly that and take down Querrey in 4 sets.
Andy Murray vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
This is a match between two seasoned veterans and two players who are comfortable and at home on Grass. While Murray has the more impressive resume, Tsonga has had his own moments on the big stages against the best of players. On his day, Tsonga is a force of nature and can hit opponents off the court.
Murray has had the upper hand in this rivalry and the biggest thing the jumps off at you in their rivalry is that Tsonga has not beaten Murray at a Grandslam since the 2008 Australian Open. Murray is in the middle of a blistering season where he has been ranked 2nd for most part of the year and has made the finals at both the slams this year. With Lendl by his side, he seems to be keen on addressing the flaws in his game that have prevented him from dominating the ATP World Tour.
Tsonga caught a massive break when Gasquet had to retire 6 games into their 4th round. This was only a day after Tsonga had to go deep into a 5th set marathon with John Isner on middle sunday a match that ended 36 games into the final set and lasted nearly 4 and a half hours. Given his injury trouble at the French Open, this year, one will hope Tsonga is fit enough to go full throttle this match.
Prediction: Tsonga might play hard ball, but Murray seems to be in no mood to let this title slip out of his hand. Since Djokovic was ushered out, this has been Murray’s title to lose and I expect him to send a strong message to the field with a straight sets win over the French man.
Tomas Berdych vs Lucas Pouille
With all the pundits’ eyes on Thiem, Kyrgios and Zverev to go deep, another youngster Lucas Pouille has blind sided the pundits and made an impressive run to the second week of the biggest tennis tournament in our world. With impressive wins against Delpotro and Tomic, Pouille has already had a good tournament. He will need to step it up another notch to take down Tomas Berdych – who is a former finalist at Wimbledon.
Berdych has, quietly, made the 3rd major quarterfinal of the year and joins Murray as the only player to have done so this year. Berdych’s strength and weakness, over the years, has been his consistency. Given that he played Federer and Djokovic in the other 2 major quarter-finals this year, this is Berdych’s best shot at a GS semifinal and smart money will be on the Czech to impose his game on the match
Prediction: Pouille will have to play the best match of his life to take down Berdych – who will be looking at this as an opportunity to move to the final 4 and possibly beyond. I will pick Berdych to make his way to the final 4 in 4 sets.