It was just like old times when both the Williams sisters reached the semi-finals on Ladies Quarter final day on Tuesday. The top seeded Serena Williams stayed on course to equal Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand slam crown with a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 win over the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 73 minutes. She next faces another Russian Elina Vesnina, ranked 50th in the world, who had a surprisingly easy 6-2, 6-2 win over the bride to be on Saturday; the Slovak Dominica Cibulkova. That ensured that Cibulkova wouldn’t have to put back her weekend wedding plans in Bratislava.
In the other semi-final sister Venus will play the Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber of Germany. Five time champion Venus rallied from a 2-5 deficit in the first set tie-break before beating Yaroslava Shedova of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 6-2 in one hour and forty two minutes on court no. 1. In what was the closest match of the day, the fourth seeded Kerber knocked out the fifth seeded Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 7-6(2), in 90 minutes , on Center court.
The following is the line up for Thursday’s ladies semi final with my pick mentioned first:-
Serena Williams (1) v. Elina Vesnina; Serena leads 4-0.
Angelique Kerber (4) v. Venus Williams (8); Kerber leads 3-2.
Five years after suffering unforgettable losses after leading by two sets at both Wimbledon (loss to Jo Wilfred Tsonga) and at the U.S. Open (loss to Djokovic), seven time champion Roger Federer rallied from two sets down, saving three match points in the fourth set, to script one of the most memorable comebacks, the tenth time in his career against the 2014 U. S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10), 6-3 to reach the last four on Wednesday.
The Swiss maestro saved 7 break points in the match, but also squandered 7 chances to break against the Croat who had beaten him in straight sets in New York two years ago , enroute to his maiden grand slam. Federer had two chances to break in the first set which went to a tie-break. He lost serve in the third game of the next set and then stared at an embarrassing straight sets defeat as he went 0-40 in the seventh game of the third set.
Federer saved all three break points and in the very next got the break for the first time in the match and clinched the third set 6-3. He then saved match points on his serve in the tenth and eleventh game of the fourth set, on his own serve, and before squandering two set points in the tie-break at 6-4.
He then saved one more match point to force the decider. He joins German legend Boris Becker and American Aaron Krickstein as the only players to have comeback from two sets deficit in their career on ten occasions.
Federer next plays the sixth seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in the last four, a repeat of 2014 semi-final which the Swiss won 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Raonic himself had rallied from a two set deficit against the Belgian David Goffin in the last sixteen. Yesterday he beat Sam Querrey, the last remaining American in the draw, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 on Court no. 1. The 41st ranked Querrey, seeded 28th had caused the biggest upset of the tournament when he beat the three time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the third round on Saturday.
Andy Murray, then followed Federer on Center Court and the 2013 champion withstood a dramatic fightback from the last remaining Frenchman in the draw; the 12th seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga. Murray took the first set in a tie-break before clinching the next 6-1, but Tsonga came back strongly to take the next two before the second seeded Scotsman reestablished his ascendancy to claim the decider 6-1.
The final scoreline was 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. It is the seventh time in his career that Murray, who is the firm favourite for the title, has reached the semi-final. He finished runner up to Federer in 2012 but beat Djokovic in the 2013 final, thus becoming the first British player in 77 years to claim the most coveted prize in tennis since Fred Perry in 1936.
He next plays the 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 10th seed used his powerful serves to end the run of another Frenchman Lucas Pouille, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-2 on Court no. 1. Berdych who took five sets to beat fellow countryman Jiri Vesley, in the only pre quarter final match which finished on Tuesday, has a respectable 6-8 head to head record against the second seeded Murray.
The thirty second seeded Pouille had stopped 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro and followed up that with a hard fought victory over the 19th seeded Australian, Bernard Tomic in a five set marathon in the previous round, but he ran out of gas after losing the closely contested first set in a tie-break.
Following is the line up in the last four in the men’s section with my pick mentioned first :-
Andy Murray (2) v. Tomas Berdych (10); Murray leads 8-6
Milos Raonic (6) v. Roger Federer (3); Federer leads 9-2.
Federer takes a 21-6 record this year against Raonic who is 36-8 for the year. Raonic won their only encounter 6-4, 6-4 at the ATP 250 final in Brisbane before the Australian Open. Murray is 38-6 for the year, while Berdych is a modest 28-12 for the year.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]