The four remaining players in this year’s Wimbledon men’s singles draw are in action on Friday on semi-finals day.
Andy Murray gave many of the British public his usual panic-inducing five-setter in the quarter-final, this time against Fernando Verdasco. But it never really looked likely that Nando would have it in him to take the win against the number two seed, even from 2-0 ahead.
My wager on Novak Djokovic to beat Tomas Berdych 3-1 was really unlucky. The Czech had his chances in set one from 4-3 up in the tie break and from a double break up in set two, but folded and Nole took a 3-0 win in the end.
The last-eight clash between David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro was made even harder to call when Delpo took a tumble in game one; who would have backed him at that point to come out and win 3-0? It’s been that kind of Wimbledon on the men’s side this year – totally unpredictable in the main.
Hopefully for UK tennis fans the shocks are over and we’ll get the Murray v Djokovic final that most expected after the first few days. But before we get ahead of ourselves, both have tricky-looking semi finals.
Del Potro played arguably the best tennis of the tournament despite a dodgy knee against Ferrer, and much will depend upon how quickly the big man can recover. It was pretty much only painkillers that got him through that match and he will surely have to dig deep today if he is to win.
That said, he has beaten Djokovic here before - last year at the Olympics. He also won their most recent meeting, which was on the slow hard courts at Indian Wells. If the knee isn’t too bad then this certainly looks the tougher assignment than Murray’s clash with Jerzy Janowicz and I wouldn’t count the Argentine out on Djokovic’s least favoured surface.
But it’s a tall order to beat the world number one in a major semi-final carrying an injury and I get the feeling that the best Delpo will do here is take a set. The betting options are plentiful, but with the spectre of a possible retirement in this one the set betting - which will be void if the match is not completed - seems the obvious choice.
Both semi-finals in 2011 and 2012 were decided by a margin of 3-1 to the victor and surely at least one of Friday’s will go that way too. The Djokovic 3-1 win looks the bet at 3.70.
Murray faces Polish star Janowicz, who will attempt to blast Murray out of the tournament with a barrage of aces, bludgeoning forehands and deft drop shots. It worked in their most recent meeting in JJ’s breakthrough tournament in Bercy at the end of last season, but a Wimbledon semi-final is different and he’s shown that the nerves can get to him already this week.
Jurgen Melzer, who has a hernia, returned the big man’s serve well enough in round four and should have beaten Janowicz. The Austrian scored just two points fewer overall, but only converting three of 12 break points cost the veteran. Murray is at least as good a returner as Melzer. As far as free points are concerned, I don’t think that JJ will get many more aces than the Scot.
The last six Grand Slam semi-finals that Murray has featured in have all gone to at least four sets, which points me to either the 3-1 Murray win or the over 38.5 games at 1.80.
Back Djokovic to beat Del Potro 3-1 at 3.75
Back over 38.5 games in Murray/Janowicz at 1.80
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