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1. Novak Djokovic v Marin Cilic (Wimbledon, QF)
The second quarter-final up on Centre Court is a repeat of last year’s quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic. In that match, Cilic had the would-be champion on the ropes, taking a two sets to one lead, but ultimately failing to keep up the pressure and falling in five sets. Marin Cilic‘s run through the draw this year reminds me a little of Madison Keys in the sense that he hasn’t really impressed but managed to scrap his way to reach the last eight. Cilic won his first match against Hiroki Moriya in straight sets. In his last three matches, Cilic has dropped five sets. The US Open champ had back-to-back five setters, beating off a game effort by Ricardas Berankis, 7-5 in the fifth set and prevailing in a match against John Isner that was halted for bad light last Friday. Cilic won that match, 12-10 in the fifth set. In the fourth round, Cilic held off a really gutsy effort from Denis Kudla in arguably the best men’s match of Magic Monday.
Djokovic was forced to resume his fourth round match against Kevin Anderson on Tuesday after bad light was called at two sets all. Anderson led led by two sets, playing some fine tennis. The point Kevin played to win the second set was fabulous. However, a dodgy service game at the start of the third set saw him immediately hand the momentum back to Djokovic. When they came back on Tuesday, Anderson had break points on Djokovic’s serve early but was unable to take them. The South African player then threw in a rough service game with back-to-back double faults. Djokovic survived, 6-7(6) 6-7(6) 6-1 6-4 7-5 in three hours and 47 minutes. I hate to say it but Kevin just doesn’t quite have it in those big moments.
Djokovic leads Cilic, 12-0 in their head-to-head. Their closest matches have come at the Slams; Djokovic won in five at Wimbledon last year, 6-1 3-6 6-7(4) 6-2 6-2, in four at Roland Garros last year, 6-3 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 and in four at the US Open in 2008, 6-7(7) 7-5 6-4 7-6(0). Their last two matches at the ATP World Tour Finals last year and Monte-Carlo earlier this year were over VERY quickly. Cilic has his best shot on the grass to cause Djokovic some problems but I think the Serb will be more focused after his five set match with Anderson and will come through comfortably.
Prediction: Djokovic d. Cilic in 3 sets
2. Stan Wawrinka v Richard Gasquet (Wimbledon, QF)
Who would have thought it that Stan Wawrinka against Richard Gasquet would actually be the most intriguing of the men’s quarter-finals? Well in my opinion, it’s the one that stands out by a mile. Many expected a French Open letdown from Stan but he has looked focused and consistent so far, not dropping a set in his first four matches. Wawrinka’s toughest match so far came against David Goffin in the fourth round where he prevailed in two tiebreaks and came from a break down in the third set to win, 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes. Wawrinka hit this ridiculous sliced backhand passing winner in the second set tiebreak. While Stan’s game has fallen into the abyss at times this year, notably losses to Robin Haase and Adrian Mannarino at Indian Wells and Miami respectively, he has peaked for the Slams. Wawrinka has reached at least the quarter-finals at all three Slams in 2015.
Like Wawrinka, this is Gasquet’s second appearance in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. It is the first time he is in the last eight of a Slam since reaching the semis at the US Open in 2013. Gasquet has had an excellent tournament, defeating Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios in the last two rounds. Gasquet comfortably saw off Dimitrov, who has just announced that he is no longer working with Roger Rasheed, in three sets and was on the way to another straight setter against Kyrgios. The wild Aussie saved a few match points to force a fourth set causing Gasquet to smash his racquet in anger. The Frenchman though stayed in the hunt and saved set points himself to win the fourth set and the match, 7-5 6-1 6-7(7) 7-6(6) in two hours and 53 minutes.
Gasquet and Wawrinka have only played each other twice before with the pair splitting their previous encounters. Gasquet won, 7-5 6-1 in Paris (2006) while Wawrinka won a fabulous five setter at Roland Garros in 2013, 6-7(5) 4-6 6-4 7-5 8-6. I remember that match vividly which featured so many delightful winners. If we get something close to that, we are in for a treat. Gasquet’s no pushover and has been playing some excellent tennis this year. I’m leaning towards Wawrinka though as he is looking more and more assured on the grass, and is still feeding off the confidence of that French Open title.
Prediction: Wawrinka d. Gasquet in 5 sets