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12.07.2019 05:00

Wimbledon gears up for a ‘seasoned’ battle royale in the semifinals

If the Women’s semifinals schedule kept you on the edge of your seats, the penultimate round of the Gentlemen’s Singles will surely see you craving for more. We preview the electrifying semifinal matchups of the men’s event at Wimbledon.

We are into the final half of the 2019 Wimbledon and as many would predict, the Top 3 seeds in the tournament booked their place as semifinalists. It is the first time since 2007 that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal are in the penultimate round of the SW19 together, so one ought to enjoy what is probably the final stage of their glorious era. Also, with Roberto Bautista Agut making it through, it is the first time in the competition’s history that two Spanish players are in the semifinals. As history is guaranteed to be rewritten at the end of the two high-profile fixtures, read our insights for the games and who could end up as potential finalists.  

Semi-final 1 | Novak Djokovic vs Roberto Bautista Agut

Top seed and defending champion Djokovic is making his ninth semifinal appearance at Wimbledon, after outclassing Belgian David Goffin 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in a game that lasted one hour and 57 minutes. The victory meant the ‘Djoker’ has now won 31 of his last 32 matches at Majors.

The Serb had an edgy start to his quarterfinal fixture, trailing 3-4 in the opening set due to some baseline rallies from Goffin. Although, it was just a matter of time before Djokovic regained his return range and claimed the set 6-4. Thereupon, the World No.1 went on a ruthless run to win 10 games in a row and earn his 70th win at Wimbledon, becoming just the fourth man in the Open Era to reach the mark at the grass-court Grand Slam after Roger Federer, Jimmy Connors, and Boris Becker.

Although he is being tipped to ease into the finals, Djokovic is wary of the threat Roberto Bautista Agut poses. The Spaniard, in his maiden Grand Slam semifinal, has won two of his 10 meetings with the Serbian superstar this year, albeit on hard courts. The 31-year-old Agut had an exhaustive quarterfinal against Argentine Guido Pella, where he dropped his first set of the tournament but went on to win 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. But with a fine record of 28-11 this year, the 23rd seed will look to trouble current holder Djokovic.

In terms of head-to-head record, Djokovic leads 7-3 and given his experience in the competition, the Serbian will be expected to shut down the threat of Agut.

Semi-final 2 | Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer

Eternal rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will face off in their 40th battle and fourth on grass courts in the second Wimbledon semi-final. While coincidentally all their grass-court clashes have been at the All England Club, a true tennis fan will possibly hope for a repeat of the ‘Strokes of Genius’.

Swiss Master Federer, with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 humbling of Japanese star Kei Nishikori, became the first man in the Open era to win 100 matches at a single Grand Slam event. Although, the King of Grass had to labour his way into the contest after dropping the first set of the game, he instantly stamped his authority by claiming the second set in 22 minutes. Since then, there was no stopping as Federer wrapped up his centenary win in two hours and 36 minutes.

Federer’s nemesis Nadal edged a big-serving Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his seventh Wimbledon semi-final, and 32nd overall at the Grand Slam level. The first set between the third seed and the 6’6” American was evenly poised at 5-5, at a time when both players were breaking each other’s serve. But, given Nadal’s signature prowess to capitalize on the opponent’s simplest of errors, the Spaniard took the opening set. Moving forward, the 18-time Grand Slam champion just asserted his authority and booked his first semi-final matchup with 37-year-old Federer at Wimbledon since 2008.

Nadal leads the all-time head-to-head record against Federer, but as he has stated earlier in front of the media, it is always a challenge to hold off the Swiss Maestro on his favourite court and in his favourite Grand Slam venue.

Words: William Paul

Images: PA