We’ll make this as quick as we can.
Raonic v Isner.
Raonic has been to this tournament’s final, so clearly he has the experience (beating Federer in the SF that year — 2016 — doesn’t hurt either even though the Swiss was ailing and about to forego the rest of the season). Isner is 3-1 lifetime against the Canadian and has had a decent year, to say the least, highlighted by his first Masters win in Miami. Remember, too, that Raonic pulled-out of Queen’s Club with a pectoral injury about three weeks ago.
All this to say the two have very similar approaches using their mammoth serves, some big and decent ground strokes and an ability to finish at the net. We might agree that Raonic is more polished overall, over the last few years, but I like John here to find his way through. The creativity he’s used in ROS and moving around the court does the big man good in these big-time matches. And of course his serve. Sure it’s a bit of a toss-up (who’s serve, for instance, is more demoralizing tomorrow), but big John advances.
Federer v Anderson.
Federer should have too much and I don’t mean to sound redundant or sarcastic. What worries me about Roger’s game is what I want to call his “ping pongy” play, which rears its head with that flicky-wrist CC where he’s on the run, reaching, squatting and flicking the ball, often short and angled beyond the reach of his out-classed opponent. But this is not his best tennis. If Federer is serving well and coming in and pressuring in the forecourt — and from the BL finding his footing and ripping the ball, with posture, establishing depth, he’s going to be very tough.
But if you get Federer moving a lot, side-to-side especially, his ground strokes can get, all together now, “ping -pongy.” I suspect Ljubičić will advise accordingly and Federer’s game will rise as this is the business-end for which Ivan the Terrible was brought onboard.
On the flip-side, Anderson has a great service game for grass and delivers a nice, dangerous BH, but I don’t see him troubling Federer much. Bad news for Fed (good news for the bottom-half) if Federer loses a set here, shows much vulnerability. Fed in straights.
Keep in mind, which isn’t tough if you’ve been reading any news or smelled any social media feces, that the above two matches are on Court 1, which came as a bit of a shock to many since Federer usually holds court in the SW19 “big house” or on Centre Court.
Will this affect Federer? It shouldn’t. As for where I come-out on this issue, the tournament should make strong, smart decisions on each match. Novak v Nishikori and Nadal v Del Potro both (hopefully) live-up to their star-power and tournament intrigue. I like the move to put those two on Centre Court and move Federer v Anderson to Court 1 (as the obvious one that was switched); at the same time, Federer is generally a huge persona, often playing big matches and probably has earned much of his Centre Court scheduling.
Again, I like tomorrow’s scheduling. All it does is echo my preview (or vice versa) 😉
Federer should take care of Anderson with little drama. Ironically, the John/Milos affair could become quite the drama, a match of large men lasting for hours. Could be the best of the four QF matches.
Del Potro v Nadal.
This was one of the most anticipated at the release of the draw last week, but I suspect Nadal will be tough to beat here in Bo5. Granted, if Del Potro can serve huge and push Nadal around the court with that flat FH and some nice low slice, maybe he has the math to stump the Spaniard.
But Del Potro’s difficulty with Simon is a bad look (sure the Frenchman has been to WB QF before, likes the grass, and is a crafty vet — but come on). If the Argentine can turn things around tomorrow and go to war with Nadal like we might suspect he can, and actually bludgeon the world #1 into hiding before N.A. hard courts begin, bravo. But my money is on the Spaniard. He’s made the second week, has his ever-critical confidence and the quirky service, other than the lower bounce, can actually suit his style, especially if the courts are drier (hotter) and rendering the higher Rafa-friendly bounce.
Still looking forward to this one. Hope it doesn’t disappoint.
Djokovic v Nishikori.
Djokovic gets his Centre Court billing. This probably means more to his fans than it does to him; actually, he’s probably quite pleased and he does deserve to play there. But his fans are foolishly hysterical (around the clock) about such matters. If I’m a Nole fanatic, I want him constantly disrespected; he thrives on that kind of energy. He’s the foil of the golden era, the spoiler if you need clarification.
God-forbid he’s soothed by the favorable scheduling and loses his edge. I doubt it, but hopefully you get where I’m going.
Actually, what probably happens here is Kei is not quite 100% to go along with his stage-fright, which means he probably puts-up a less than high quality challenge. Other than that 2014 U.S. Open SF, Novak has had his way with Nishikori. Not the best match-up here — kinda like Dimitrov v Federer 😉
Having said all of that, Nishikori has fought hard on these lawns, looked pretty solid out-lasting Tomic (knows grass), frustrating Kyrgios, and staying just ahead of the difficult Gulbis until the Latvian came-up injured. But there’s been a little depth and maturity to his game. Hopefully he’s near 100% and can give the Centre Court crowd and the rest of us something to write home about.
Novak, as I said earlier, has that look that prompted me to say he’s in the driver’s seat here in this tournment. I will fluctuate a bit and remind myself and anyone listening that Khachanov is really nothing to write home about. Despite his size and some of his game’s power, he escaped Tiafoe due to the American’s bizarre injury/fitness drama and looked really awful vs Djokovic in that R16. In other words, that win might have been almost meaningless.
I’m really just monitoring the Serb’s Spartan resemblance. He’s quickly developing that role and I suspect the make-up of the draw has encouraged this development. We know he’s been coming; he may be finding that form faster than most thought he would or that some hoped he would.
Still a lot of tennis still to play.
Hopefully Kei provides a good test. He’ll most likely get one in the SF, either way.