MARK Stinchombe (@MarkStinchcombe) enjoyed a fabulous Thursday on the women’s semi-finals but can he repeat the trick at SW19 when the men take centre stage on Friday?
Novak Djokovic v Richard Gasquet | Friday 13.00 | BBC 2
Richard Gasquet came through an epic three-and-a-half hour five-set battle with Stan Wawrinka, winning the decider 11-9, to set-up a semi-final with Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic. Novak on the other hand had a comfortable straight sets victory over Marin Cilic to make it four of his five matches he’s won 3-0 and I’m expecting similar today.
Djokovic has won 11 of their 12 meetings, eight of them in straight sets, including their two meetings at Grand Slams. Gasquet’s main weapon is his single-handed backhand that does little damage to Djokovic.
3-0 Novak is only 4/6 but we can back Under 140.5 minutes (two hours 20 minutes) at a bigger 87/100 (888 Sport). Djokovic’s 3-0 victories so far have been 111, 94, 94 and 125 minutes and all three of his straight set wins here last year were under this time.
When they played in Paris last month on the slow clay the match lasted a little over two hours, and given Gasquet’s exploits on Wednesday, Djokovic will look to wrap up this tie as soon as possible ahead of Sunday’s final.
Andy Murray v Roger Federer | Friday 15.30 | BBC 2
Both these men arrive in this semi-final in impressive form. Andy Murray has won all 10 of his grass court matches, including Queen’s, dropping just three sets whilst Roger Federer has also won all 10 of his grass court matches, including Halle, dropping just two sets.
Impressive as it is, I don’t think it should be too surprising with both of these and Djokovic by far and away the best players on grass at the moment. The head-to-head between these two is 12-12 and I don’t disagree with the odds that this is a tight match.
Federer won all three matches against Murray last year but I don’t read too much into these with Murray clearly not at the level he is capable of after returning to the tour from his back surgery. More pertinently is his form this year which reads 51-6 (four defeats to Djokovic) with Federer’s 39-6 (two defeats to Djokovic).
As alluded to in the outright preview, their record here stands at 1-1. Federer won the 2012 final after dropping the opening set before the roof then closed and a month later Murray won the Olympics final in straight sets. We’ll never know but it’s long been believed that with the roof closing, the change in conditions greatly aided Federer and being more comfortable in an ‘indoor’ environment, he was able to attack Murray better.
Federer will be 34 next month and despite his form, I’ve got to give Murray the edge over the best of five. Federer’s only had his serve broken once in over 100 games (broken to love serving for the second set to Giles Simon) but with Murray’s return only bettered by perhaps Djokovic, Federer won’t have come up against anything like that level.
Murray’s second serve is attackable, but as I’ve said before, he’s probably the best defender on grass and will get back a lot more shots than Federer is used to. I’m not sure Murray gets enough credit for it, but he really is such an intelligent player and plays with so much variety that he’ll eventually have too much for Federer. It should be a great match with Murray just coming through at 9/10 with Bwin.
Novak Djokovic v Richard Gasquet – Under 140.5 minutes (87/100 888Sport)
Andy Murray v Roger Federer – Andy Murray to win (9/10 Bwin)
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