Wimbledon – semifinals

 2nd semifinal:

(4)Andy Murray d. (5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga            6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5                   [2:47 h]

Not facing one out of three giants of the modern game in a Grand Slam semifinal it’s a unique opportunity, so it was a huge chance for both players to reach the final of the most important tournament in tennis. For Murray it was 4th consecutive semifinal attempt in London, for Tsonga second in a row. The roof had been open after the first semifinal, rain didn’t fall and the entire match was played outdoors. Jo-Wilfried is very tough to break on grass, en route to the semifinal he was broken only four times, but Murray is one of the best return players in the world, perhaps the best on grass, and managed to break Tsonga four times as well. The Scot showed his amazing defensive skills as early as in Tsonga’s opening service game when he returned-in a couple of bombs and made one incredible backhand passing-shot. The match was under his control through the first two sets, Tsonga was playing more aggressively than in his previous matches (there were sequences of constant serve-and-volley attacks), but it wasn’t efficient enough until the 3rd set when Murray had a “nap” for about 10 minutes, and the Frenchman established a 3:0 lead which was vital in that set despite Murray’s pursuit. Murray woke up since the first point of the 4th set and he was trying to encourage himself after almost every winning point. He built a *3:1 (30/30) lead – in that moment Tsonga manifested his unpredictability getting two important points thanks to one-handed backhands. At 4:3 Murray squandered two mini-match points, falling on the ground on both occasions! It could have been a turning point because in the following game Tsonga had a double mini-set point – Murray survived it with two unreturned services, the second one after casual 2nd serve – Tsonga risked forehand return and missed. As I mentioned after Murray’s match against Ferrer, the Scot always wins 4th set tie-break, so he was quite relaxed when he held his service game to lead 6:5. Tsonga helped a bit in the last game of the match producing three unforced errors… Double match point: good serve, Tsonga goes to the net, Murray passes with a forehand. The ball is called ‘out’, but both players seem to know the ball was good which confirms Murray’s challenge. Tsonga congratulates hugging Murray, who has tears in his eyes. For the time being he proves that deserves No. 4 in the world, however, if he wants to finally move further (in the end of the season) he needs to beat Federer on Sunday… It’s the end of the 74-year-old drought for the British tennis in Wimbledon men’s finals (Bunny Austin was outplayed by Don Budge  in 1938). In the Open Era the British fans suffered nine semifinal defeats of their favorites:

Roger Taylor (1970, 73)
Tim Henman (1998-99, 2001-02)
Andy Murray (2009-11)

1st semifinal:

(3)Roger Federer d. (1)Novak Djokovic         6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3                       [2:19 h]

It’s a special time at the top of the men’s tennis, almost every match involving two out of three best players in the world has more at stake than just beating an arch-rival to get a final or a trophy. This time Federer entering the court, had a chance to regain the top spot (he has to win also the final to do it) tying Pete Sampras‘ record of the most weeks on No. 1 and become the first man to play eight Wimbledon finals; Djokovic in turn, could equal Nadal’s accomplishment of reaching five consecutive Grand Slam finals (it’s something even Rod Laver had not done in the Open era; Federer played ten in a row!). Anyway they’ve created a common new record for the most meetings at majors – 11 #.
The weather afternoon was bad which forced the officials to close the roof. Tim Henman and Boris Becker commentating this match for a TV sport channel, agreed that indoor conditions would favor Federer, and they were right. The level of play disappointed, especially in the opening, reflex two sets. “First blood” came in the 6th game as serving Djokovic dived unsuccessfully at 30-all. Trying to save the first break point he missed a backhand and the set was pretty much over. The Serb finally read Federer’s serve a couple times in the 2nd game of the 2nd set and broke him to 15 producing aggressive ground-strokes. The crowd waited until the 6th game of the 3rd set to see the first and one of very few excellent rallies – it was a break point for Federer, Djokovic won the point and showed first emotions. He had a mini-set point at 4-all but Federer responded with three service winners in a row. The crucial point of the match occurred with Djokovic serving to stay in the set in the following game. He was 15/30 down and played too cautiously from a very good position, Federer defended himself with a moon-lob and the Serb missed an overhead. He saved the first set point but on the second one, Federer outmaneuvered his opponent and finished the point with a smash. Apparently the tense 3rd set cost Djokovic a lot mentally because he made a few untypical baseline rallies at the beginning of the 4th set and found himself quickly at 0:3 down, which meant he had lost five consecutive games. Federer was fresh and his serve was working amazingly. Even when the Serbian player came back from a triple break point at 1:4 and two points away from defeat at 2:5, Federer didn’t show any sign of uncertainty, and finished the semifinal with two solid service winners. I think it’s worth underlying he got many points throughout the match directly after 2nd serve, IMO it was something what differed them the most. “If he wins and becomes No. 1, it’s going to be well deserved,” Djokovic said. “He’s played fantastic this year. He’s been so consistent. If he wins, he wins. There’s nothing I can do about it. The best player will win this tournament. I’m out.”

# Most matches at majors:
11Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic (6-5)
10Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (8-2)
10 – Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (7-3)
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