The elite eight: Day 9 preview
Originally published on: 28/06/11 23:29
Unlike the women, the men’s draw has somewhat gone according to plan with the top four seeds comfortably making it to the last eight with the loss of only five sets and one broken racket between them.
Roger Federer finds himself back on Centre Court today for his match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Swiss legend, who is looking to equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles, will be making his 29th consecutive quarter-final appearance at a Grand Slam and you would be hard pushed to find another sportsman who could boast that level of consistency.
If Federer wants to make it 29 semi-finals in a row, he will have to overcome the big-hitting Frenchman who pushed Andy Murray all the way in the final at Queens. Tsonga, who has never gone further than the quarter-finals at SW19, has continued to endear himself to British tennis fans with his all-court game style and moments of graceful sportsmanship. But if history is anything to go by – Federer has one four of their five match-ups – Tsonga will know he needs to be at his best, and then some, if he is to overcome the 16-time Grand Slam champion.
Second up on Centre Court is – no pressure – the hopes of a nation and the player expected to end decades of British Grand Slam hardship – Andy Murray. He faces the big-serving Feliciano Lopez, or as he is known to Andy’s mother Judy, ‘Deliciano’.
British fans may remember Lopez as the last player to oust Tim Henman from the Championships and this is the third time he has reached the quarter-final stage here. The Spaniard always saves his best performances for the All England Club, but with a partisan crowd surrounding the court and an in-form Murray on the opposite end, a difficult challenge lies in store for the 29 year old.
When Rafael Nadal called for a trainer towards the end of his first set with Juan Martin Del Potro many spectators feared the worst. But since then, doctors have given Nadal the all clear following an MRI scan on his ankle, and the defending champ will now be raring to go for his match with American surprise package, Mardy Fish.
Now, it may seem odd describing the No.10 seed’s run to this stage as surprising, but Fish has only reached a Grand Slam quarter-final twice in an 11-year period and his best run at Wimbledon before this year was the third round. But the American is not surprised to be here, he can be dangerous, and if it weren’t for a long-list of injuries throughout his career he would have enjoyed many more appearances in the second week of Slams. However, the 29-year-old will need to put in the performance of a lifetime if he is to overcome the World No.1, but if Nadal’s foot continues to cause problems anything is possible.
Completing the Court No.1 line-up is teen sensation Bernard Tomic and Aussie Open champ Novak Djokovic. Besides a second-set melt down against Marcos Baghdatis, everything has gone pretty smoothly for Djokovic. The Serb has impressed at times on the grass but tense five-set matches have tended to drain him of energy towards the business end of the tournament in recent years. But that was the old Novak and this is the new. He proved during the clay-court season that he is always ready for battle and he will need that determination when he faces Tomic today.
The Australian is the first qualifier since Vladimir Voltchkov to reach this stage of the competition and the youngest since Boris Becker. Tomic, who practices with Djokovic on a regular basis, will be buoyed by the inevitable cheers of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ from the supporters in yellow, but he will know it will take something special to upset a man who has only lost one match all year.