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Wimbledon Men’s Semi-Finals preview

Have we seen the last of the shocks at Wimbledon this year? Well, there’s certainly still the potential for another big surprise in the men’s semi-finals tomorrow as Andy Murray takes on Jerzy Janowicz and Novak Djokovic clashes with Juan Martin Del Potro.

The Murray-Janowicz match, in particular, has ‘Punter Danger!’ written all over it. Coral rate Murray a 1/6 shot to progress to the final (Janowicz 4/1), but Britain’s big hope is certainly not in the best form of his life going into this after dodging a bullet in the quarter-finals, while his opponent is coming into the fight with all guns blazing after an impressive march to the last four.

The most impressive thing about Murray is how he is keeping his head while all around him are losing theirs. He deserves a special Wimbledon medal for keeping his cool in the face of some inane post-match probing from the BBC interviewer, who had the nerve to ask whether his near defeat served as a warning to him not to take anything for granted.

To Murray’s credit, he again calmly pointed out to all those who had been taking it for granted that players like Fernando Verdasco are very good and very dangerous and that, far from deserving the hair-dryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson (in the crowd so the interviewer couldn’t help himself asking another inappropriate question), he deserved credit for turning it around against such a talented opponent.

Janowicz’s post-match interview was also instructive. The young Pole was so overcome he could hardly speak and one wonders whether that emotion will work against him in the cauldron of the Centre Court tomorrow. Murray’s cooler head and greater experience, not to mention a partisan crowd, might well get him over the line, perhaps in four sets (5/2 with Coral), but it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest shock of the fortnight if the Scot’s latest Wimbledon adventure ended here.

Janowicz’s main weapon is a huge first serve (up to 140mph), which has enabled him to send down getting on for 100 aces, almost half as many again as anybody else in the tournament. One of Murray’s main strengths, however, is his return of serve and this where the match may well be won and lost.

Djokovic v Del Potro might also be a lot closer than the odds suggest (1/8 Djokovic, 5/1 Del Potro), but a lot depends here on what sort of physical shape the Argentinean is in after his quarter-final heroics against David Ferrer.

The crowd will be very much behind Del Potro’s because he’s not just the underdog, he’s the wounded underdog and of course they want Murray to triumph in the end so there is also the dynamic of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’

But it’s difficult to see Del Potro, talented though he is, doing the same to Djokovic as he did to Ferrer, hobbling around and smashing winner after winner from the baseline – beating the world’s best player on two good legs is hard enough. 3-0 Djokovic (10/11) looks the most likely outcome, but again absolutely not something to put your house on.