With the King of the Grass Courts out, who will win it all at The All England Club?
The (nearly) Never-ending Quarterfinal Duels
The eight-time champion stood across from an opponent who had never beaten him. One point stood between Roger Federer and sweet straight-set victory. But you haven’t won until the last ball is called out or hits the net or isn’t touched. And for more than two hours and five sets, Federer continued to be across from Ken Anderson, all the way until the 24th game when the final point went Anderson’s way.
That’s right, No. 8 seed Anderson finally took down Wimbledon’s giant, 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11.
What a piece of history.
Now reverse into history two years when Novak Djokovic held all four Grand Slam titles. Then come back to Wimbledon 2018, where The Joker defeated Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to place him in his first Wimbledon semi-final since 2015.
The third ATP player to make the last four was John Isner. He also went four sets in his match. He defeated Milos Raonic 6-7 (5), 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-3.
And within hours of Feders ousting, Rafael Nadal took five sets and two tiebreakers to beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7-9), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to snag the last spot in the final four.
What does it all mean?
Now two former World No. 1s will be facing off on one side of the semifinal bracket while Isner and Anderson play for their spot in the final.
Big Serves and Grassy History
You know the saying Walk Tall and Carry a Big Serve? That’s what you can expect out of the Isner-Anderson matchup. Both players have a strong and consistent serve. We’ll be interested to see how long it takes one to break the other’s serve.
As for Nadal-Djokovic, it’s a tale we’ve seen play out several times before. 51 times, as a matter of fact. But we’re talking about Nadal, who is still dominating the game, and Djokovic, who seems to have found his confidence again while running across the grassy knolls of England’s premier club.
Djokovic leads that head-to-head, but just slightly: 26 wins to 25. While Nadal has taken both of the last two meetings, they were also both on clay. We mentioned in our preview that three words shouldn’t be in the same sentence: Nadal, grass and dominance. And we stand by that. Nadal is one of the best players in the world, but grass hasn’t seen his finest tennis.
In fact, the last time Djokovic and Nadal met on grass it was in 2011. Actually, it was the finals of the 2011 Wimbledon. One guess who won? No. Not the King of Clay. Djokovic took it in four sets, 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
Oh, the Records They Have Set
And it will surprise no one that whoever wins the bottom half of the semifinal bracket will likely go on to win the finals.
Nadal already had a Game for the Ages against Roger Federer here. And it will surprise no one that whoever wins the bottom half of the semifinal bracket will likely go on to win the finals. (Psst. Nadal and Djokovic face off in that half of the bracket.)
After taking the French Open earlier this season, Nadal is looking for his second Grand Slam of the year. He has already won two career titles at The All England Club.
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Anderson will take on 33-year-old Isner. And a spot in the final four is new to Isner. It took him 41 attempts to make a semifinal at a major, that’s the second most in the 50 years of the professional era, according to ESPN.
And while 33 isn’t the new 21, Isner is refreshing American history. He’s the second American male to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2009. Sam Querrey made the semifinals at Wimbledon last year.
Focus on the Semifinals
Up one set to nothing on Kei Nishikori, Djokovic hit a forehand long handing Nishikori the 2-1 lead in the second set. Then Djokovic bounced his racket off the grass. The umpire penalized him with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. Now on a scale of, oops to John McEnroe, this was a deliberate move, but it wasn’t close to the most aggressive we’ve seen. However, what we haven’t seen a whole lot of recently is a truly fired-up Djokovic on top of his game.
All of that story is to say: the man has untapped something that’s been dormant for many months. Glad to see you again, Joker.