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Semis coming: Fed v Joker; Andy v Jo

Friday Finals? (Fed-Joker)


July 04, 2012 | 07:52 PM

Roger Federer may have congratulated his opponent after he finished schooling him for 90 minutes on Center Court, but perhaps not for reaching his first ever quarterfinal at age 30 - after all, coming from someone who hasn't not at least reached the quarters in 9 years, it might sound about condescending. Rather it would be because three hours before the match, Mrs. Youzhny gave birth to a son. Presumably, the baby was healthy or Mikhail would have grabbed an Aeroflot flight to Moscow and left his mailing address for the quarterfinal loser's check. Given the one-sided outcome, he might as well have.

Complete score: 6-1, 6-2, 6-1

German Florian Mayer wouldn't have needed an excuse to duck out early either, given his opponent was the best player in the world. The 28 year old Mayer had reached the quarters in his first Wimbledon back in 2004, when he lost in straight sets to #13 Grosjean. To even replicate the score in that defeat was going to take amazing performance today.

When he had Joker down 0-40 on his serve at 4-4 in 1st, with an easy forehand volley and an open court, it looked momentarily like he might have such a day. He had already broken first early in the set. Perhaps he didn't want to test Joker's legs by making him run down a cross court volley; in any event, he chose to hit behind the Serb, but didn't make a decisive enough volley. Novak stretched his long body to his left and pushed a two hander down-the-line on the chalk for a winner. Four quick points later Joker had held to 5-4, and almost as quickly, he broke Mayer for the set and tilted the odds so far in his favor that even polite, tennis loving Brits might have left early for a Pimms. If they'd hurried, they might have made it back for the 3rd set: the second took only 25 minutes (Mayer won 9 points, 6 on his own serve). The 3rd set was more competitive, and as in the first set, Mayer had 4 chances to break though he didn't convert.

Complete score: 6-4, 6-1, 6-4

Comparing their two quickies, Fed might have bragging rights in the locker room afterwards for being even more efficient, but he knew his opponent from defeating him all 13 times they'd played with the loss of but 2 sets (5 times on grass). Mayer was rather new to Joker (they'd play once last year), and is a strange one to play, given his continental grip and and the unpredictability of his roundhouse forehand.

Both of these men will focus 100% on being there for their semis on Friday, which might as well be the final in most people's minds. It will be their first match on grass after nearly splitting 20 matches on hard and 6 clay on clay.

Both semis promise to be the best competition of the men's tournament. The Joker v Fed match needs no further preview. The second match is fun to preview as it sets up two men who are coming in to this match with an uncannily quarterfinal match behind them.

Both won today in 4 sets after facing a greater challenge from better opponents (Ferrer for Murray, Kohlschreiber for Tsonga).

Murray is favored very slightly over Tsonga in the odds of winning the title, and his odds against beating the Frenchman are higher than Joker's of beating Federer (both are favored, as their ranking suggests), perhaps because he has beaten Jo 5 of 6 times including both times they've played on grass:

- in the 2010 Wimbledon quarters, Murray def. Tsonga 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-2

- in the Queens final last year, Murray won 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4

Their matches today were decided largely by what Brad Jargon Gilbert refers to as the business end of the set: 5 tie-breakers ended their 8 sets, and in both cases the winners won two breakers, though in opposite order:

- Murray lost the 1st in a breaker when he netted a couple of forehands at 5-5

- Tsonga won his 1st in a breaker with an ace up the middle

- Murray won the 2nd set in a breaker 8-6 (David had a set point on Andy's serve)

- Tsonga lost the 2nd 4-6

- Murray won the 3rd 6-4

- Tsonga won the 3rd 7-6 (3)

- Murray won the 4th 7-6 (4)

- Tsonga won the 4th 6-2

The close parallels between their two matches don't end with the scores - their stats are so close as to be interchangeable, something I've never seen before, and - as e've seen earlier in the event, not more likely as a result of their scores being similar:

- they each served 48% of their total points

- they each won 72% of their serve points

- their winning percentages on 1st and 2nd serves were identical (80% and 59%)

- their fastest serves were 1 mph different (Jo 136, Andy 135)

- they each hit about the same # of aces (Tsonga 17, Murray 18)

- their ratio of winners to errors is the same: 1.59

- they each won just over 52% of total points

The only small differences in their stats are that Tsonga came in 17% of the time and Murray only 15% Tsonga also won 3% more of his net points (given their reputations, it's surprising this difference isn't higher), and Murray hit 3 double faults while Jo was perfect in this regard.

The similarity in their opponents' styles of play today contributes in some way to some of this, as does coincidence. Kohlschreiber does have a much bigger serve than Ferrer: coming in to today's match he had hit 35% more aces than Tsonga, and they'd served the identical number of games in their previous matches. Outside of Kohl's ace total today it made little difference in his match, and - without going through the comparison in their stats here - leave it that they are uncannily similar.

Today was also a DOUBLES CATCH-UP DAY, insofar as the weather allowed.

The Williams and the Bryans played multiple matches, the Williams in the women's event and the Bryans in men's and mixed, where they are the #1 and #2 seeds. Although unseeded due to their absence from the doubles tour, the Williams record at Wimbledon makes them the team to beat (they have won 4 titles and only lost twice):

- Williams def. Petrova & Kirilenko 3-6, 6-3, 9-7

- Williams def. Mattek-Sands & Mirza 6-4, 6-3

- Bryans def. Llodra & Clement 7-6 (5), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2

- Mike Bryan & Lisa Raymond (#2) def. Peya & Groenfield (#16) 6-3, 7-5

- Bob Bryan & Liezel Huber (#1) def. Brunstrom & Klepec 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

In the quarters of an almost all-American half, The Williams next play Raquel Kop-Jones & Abigail Spears, before a potential semis with #1 seeds Lisa Raymond & Liezel Huber, who have 3 All England titles between them, though not together.

The Bryans also have American opponents in the quarters, Scott Lipsky & Rajeev Ram, and will play tomorrow on Court One (available on ESPN3).

Mixed will also play tomorrow, but Serena only has her singles semis, the second match on Centre Court.

SCHEDULE OF PLAY For Thursday

- Radwanska (#3) v Kerber (#8) (starting at 8am EST)

- Bryans (#2) v Lipsky & Ram (starting at 8am EST)

- Serena (#6 ) v Azarenka (#2) (following Azarenka)

Wimbledon Men's Quarters 7.4.12


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