SO the dream died for Johanna Konta yesterday at Wimbledon when she was defeated by the brilliant Venus Williams in the women’s semi-finals.
Today’s WIMBLEDON WRAP focuses on the men, or as they could be called ‘Roger and the Giants’.
Roger Federer v Tomas Berdych, Centre Court, approx. 4pm
WE thought for the whole of the first week that the Big Four were going to reach the semi-finals and we would have the prospect of Federer versus Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray against Rafa Nadal. Oh, the glorious unpredictability of sport. Nadal was knocked out, and Murray and Djokovic limped out, leaving Federer to progress swan-like to the last four.
Quite simply, Federer’s tennis this Wimbledon has been irresistible. The Swiss superstar has not dropped a set and has not looked like dropping one, hitting 174 winners in his five matches. At 35, there seems to be no reduction in his powers and the way he has reinvented his game in the last year or two to take greater advantage of his shot-making skills has been a joy to watch. He’s on 18 Grand Slams, but he would love an eighth Wimbledon title. This is his 12th semi-final at SW19 and he has only lost once, albeit last year to Milos Raonic.
A semi-final against Tomas Berdych would seem to be strongly in his favour, but history and expectation could be overwhelming, so the Czech must do everything in his power to make things difficult. At 6ft 5in, Berdych has a big serve and powerful forehand which can trouble anyone. The only problem is that the Big Four have usually exploited a slight lack of mobility and lack of subtlety in his game. Federer leads the head-to-heads 18-6, but in their only meeting at Wimbledon, Berdych triumphed in four sets in 2010. That was part of a run to the final, which also included a win over Djokovic, so perhaps the stars are falling into place for Berdych to repeat the trick.
Sam Querrey v Marin Cilic, Centre Court, 1pm
SAM QUERREY achieved the biggest win of his career when he came from two sets to one down to dispose of Murray in Wednesday’s quarter-final. At the 42nd time of asking, Querrey was a Grand Slam semi-finalist and the first American male to do so since Andy Roddick in 2009. That makes his appearance on Centre Court this afternoon a big deal for him and his country.
Querrey is known in tennis as ‘Slammin’ Sam’ and with good reason. His thunderous serve has pounded down a tournament-high 126 aces in his run to the semis. He’s also shown incredible competitive spirit having won three five-setters in a row to get here. Sam has always been regarded as too nice and laid back to reach the very top, but he has displayed more hunger than normal this Wimbledon with spectacular results.
At 6ft 6in, Querrey normally stands above his opponents, but he will looking Marin Cilic squarely in the eye on Centre Court. The Croatian has been the dark horse of Wimbledon and motored through the draw until he beat Gilles Muller in five sets on Wednesday. Cilic may have expected Nadal and Murray in his path, but without them, opportunity has fallen his way. The No.7 seed has a 4-0 record in his meetings with Querrey and will believe this is his time to emulate countryman Goran Ivanisevic as a Wimbledon finalist.
THERE is the tantalising prospect of a British final in the mixed doubles. The superstar pairing of Jamie Murray and former World No.1 Martina Hingis are in one semi-final today and defending champions Heather Watson and her Finnish partner Henri Kontinen are in the other.