Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wimbledon Final Four Preview

The Championships at Wimbledon ..... this year I expect the semi-final match-ups and possibly the finals to be as intriguing as the feel for the mid-summer classic tournament itself. As a fan of tennis, I love watching the game being played on the green pastures (not so green now...towards the end of the 2nd week with all the wear and tear), especially what a sight it is on Hi-def. The red clay of Roland Garros comes a close second (talking just about the mystic view of the court ... not quality of tennis per se).

I am going to talk about only the men's side here. This year all of the four semi-finalists seem to have a chip on their shoulders. Not only is each one of them playing exceptional tennis heading into the final weekend of the Championships, but all of them have, what you may say unfinished business, especially cause its wimbledon.

Let me start with the dark horse of the 4 here - Tommy Haas. He is a 13-14 year vet who has many a times knocked at the door at the semi-final level of slams, but has never been able to take that next step. Not that he is'nt talented enough, for he can beat anybody when he is at his best (yes...including Federer). Add to this his consistent bouts of injuries all through his career, its fair to say he had a very limited window to really show off at slams. But this time, it might be different. Haas seems to be playing with a purpose now. He knows that window is fast closing on him to win a slam. Recently at the french open, he almost busted the fairy tale story of Federer winning the French...... leading him 2 sets to 0 in the quarters, only to see an epic comeback from the Fed. He was that close, and now he gets another chance....this time in the semis. Federer may be more comfortable on grass than clay (which is an understatemnt :)).... but the same goes with Haas. All I can say is out Fed!! Haas has always been a thorn on Federer's path, grabbing a set or 2 from Federer in slams, even when Federer was stream-rolling through his draws at his peak. Their head-to-head record may not tell you the whole story.

Talking about Federer, his quest of pocketing grand slams is just ridiculous....well on his way to No.15 and that too on his favorite surface. With every win, he is just bolstering the case to be annointed the "Greattest of all time" (GOAT). Some people have already made up their mind that he has reached that point, although I still think he has ways to go to be the undisputed GOAT. Right now, he seems to be at the top of his game. But one thing different now than in 2005-06 is that his opponents beleive in their heads that they have a chance. Back in 05-06, Federe won his games on paper...guys just pshyched out before they even played him. Rafa was probably the only one with immunity to that effect. Now guys do not have that fear. They think they can win everytime they take the court against Fed, especially Djokovic and Murray. So I think Federer has his hands full. But, hey....this is home....he is not gonna let anyone take it without a fight. If I had to bet on the number of sets for the Haas-Federer semi-final (considering the line being 4).....I confidently take the over. It could turn out to be a classic.

Andy Roddick has been exceptional this tournament. He had to sweat it out against Hewitt in the previous round, but getting through that just shows A-Rod is mentally ready. He has his own tryst with Wimbledon. Roddick's game is tailor-made for grass. But for a man named Federer, he may have won 3-4 slams here. Kind of like how Rafa was there at the french for Federer. Could the tables turn this time around? Just like Federer breaking through at the French, could this be Roddick's turn to return the favor? Well...he has to get through a bloke named Murray first.

Andy Murray..... never in my lifetime has a brit player had a legitimate credible chance at the wimbledon. This kid knows his way on the grass and he's been phenomenal the last 2 weeks. If he can get past Roddick, he should like his chances against Federer. After all he has owned Federer of late (Head to Head Murray is up 6-2). But its a whole different story playing at Federer's home (the center court at wimbledon). If it turns out to be a Murray - Federer final another angle to the story will have to be the crowd. We all know they love Federer. But will they root against their local kid?? Will be interesting to notice the crown sentiment if such a final pans out.

My Predictions:

Semi-final 1: Murray def. Roddick
Semi-final 2: Federer def. Haas

Final: Murray def. Federer

I know I'm going out on a limb here predicting an upset in the final ..... but hey it just feels that way!

I'll try update a final's preview if I can get to it before Sunday.

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