Men’s Quarter Finals

Jul 1, 2010

As if the women’s quarter finals weren’t enough, the men’s singles quarter finals have managed to give me palpitations. Novak Djokovic started off the first quarter final match and although it wasn’t a shocker for him to beat Yen-Hsun Lu 6-3 6-2 6-2, he played with a vitality, emotion and deftness that made him look like the Djokovic from two or three years ago, the one that won the Australian Open. The stilted, unhappy, out of form Djokovic of the last few years has disappeared; the Djoker has returned. And he will go on to play Tomas Berdych, the culmination of the biggest shock of the day.

Once again, Roger Federer won’t be in a Grand Slam final. At the French Open we could put that down to an anomaly; this time it was just plain freaky. All the credit has to go to his competitor, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who beat Federer 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4. After such a fantastic year at the French Open, Berdych could have disappeared into obscurity in the changeover to grass court. Except of course, this being the wonderful game we know and love, quite the opposite has occurred. Berdych beat Federer Mind-blowing chaos broke out in Centre Court, with barely a handful of people staying on to watch the opening games of Andy Murray’s match, probably needing to dowse themselves with cold water and drink something sugary to help recover from the shock they had just seen.

Fortunately for those of unsound nerves, the home favourite won through against France’s Jo Wilfried Tsonga despite dropping the first set in a tie break. He eventually prevailed on the next tie break, and with Tsonga looking defeat in the eye, Murray took the match 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-2.

Unfortunately for those of unsound nerves, Rafael Nadal was making a meal of beating Robin Soderling. Soderling has proved to be difficult for the top players to quash; he is not an easy man to beat. Still, Nadal looked a beaten man until a rumble with the umpire seemed to inspire him to get his game into gear. After a disastrous start to the first set that had me believing my TV was faulty, Nadal pulled himself up from 0-5 down, and managed to get 3 games on the board before losing in only 20 minutes or so. The next set was a complete reversal, with Nadal going up 3-0 almost as quickly as the first set was over. Although Soderling’s game never dropped dramatically, Nadal’s picked up spectacularly, and the old Rafa had returned when he closed out the match 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-1

When top players drop out, the phrase is that the tournament has been blown ‘wide open’. But when Federer leaves, it feels like an explosion has hit the centre of the tournament. Federer’s earliest exit since 2002 means that the players remaining have such an opportunity on their hands; whoever takes the opportunity by the scruff of the neck will be the one that comes out triumphantly

My predictions? Well I wouldn’t put it past Murray to capitalise on Nadal’s rather shaky form of late to make it into the finals, but I think he has the biggest challenge ahead of him. Last year he felt at this hurdle to Roddick, and if Nadal plays with the intensity he played late on in his last match against Soderling then Murray will find it difficult. The crowd will play a big part in Murray’s game, as they do so rather annoyingly each year. Less roaring like a lion and more concentrating on the game will get you places Murray; keep doing a lap of honour every point and you may be back to losing ways.

But who would Murray meet if he got through to the finals? Some may say it would be his biggest hurdle that had already gone behind him, what with Nadal already beaten and no Federer to meet. But I wouldn’t necessarily agree. If Berdych to go through then yes, Murray would have his best chance in years and would probably take it; but if it were Novak Djokovic I’m not sure the end result would be signed, sealed and delivered as much as British fans would like to assume. Djokovic has already played in a Grand Slam final and won; the pressure to obtain his first one is not there, and what is left behind is the experience that it marks on a player. Although Andy has been in two Grand Slam finals he will have the crushing expectation of a nation on his shoulders as well as his first title at stake.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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