A part of me was almost relieved that we were spared of another attritional affair between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Instead Djokovic will square up in the semi-finals against Stanislas Wawrinka, who produced a superb performance to comprehensively take out the Wimbledon champion, 6-4 6-3 6-2. It was a really strange match and an odd performance from Murray who showed the kind of frustration we were used to seeing a few years back. I think having achieved what he did at Wimbledon, it is understandable to experience a dip mentally and it is not a particularly worrying loss in my opinion in terms of his future progression. Wawrinka now takes on Djokovic, who lost his first set of the tournament, but was never really tested by Mikhail Youzhny in a 4 set victory, 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-0.
Wawrinka, playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, will be eager to get one on Djokovic after a scintillating 4th rounder at this year’s Australian Open where the Swiss world number 2 was left heartbroken after coming up short despite a magnificent performance, losing 12-10 in the decider. Djokovic leads the head-to-head by 12 wins to 2 with both Wawrinka wins coming in 2006. Wawrinka is playing extremely well this week, both aggressive and mentally tuned in. I am so very tempted to go for the upset in this one, but I have to look at the overall picture and the fact that this is Stan’s first GS semi-final and to beat Djokovic over a best of five set match is not to be overlooked.
The second semi-final features the hard court maestro of Rafael Nadal up against Richard Gasquet. Nadal is 20-0 on hard courts in 2013 and produced a stirring performance to thump Tommy Robredo, 6-0 6-2 6-2 in the quarter-finals. Gasquet’s run through has been tough, but he showed mental capabilities well beyond people’s expectation with 5 set wins over Milos Raonic and more impressively, over the Spanish grinder, David Ferrer. This is just Gasquet’s second appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final and rather curiously, he is 2-0 in Grand Slam quarter-finals compared to 2-15 in 4th rounders.
The head-to-head is not a pretty sight for the Frenchman. Nadal leads it 10-0 with Gasquet commenting in his post-match interview that the only time he has beaten Rafa was at an under 13’s tournament. Gasquet has won just 4 sets off Nadal and every encounter since 2008 has been a straight setter. If Gasquet was to pull something out of the bag in this one it would be one of the shocks of the season. I think 1 tight set is the best you can ask of Reeshard because Rafa looks immense at the minute…