Wimbledon – Men’s Quarter Finals (Wednesday 4th July 2012)

Hot off the press. Our tennis expert CHRIS QUINN brings his his detailed preview on each of the Mens Quarter Finals at Wimbledon on Wednesday. Chris makes a set score prediction for each match as well.

Centre (13:00 UK start)
Federer v Youzhny
Ferrer v Murray

Court 1 (13:00 UK start)
Djokovic v Mayer
Tsonga v Kohlschreiber

Novak Djokovic (1) vs Florian Mayer (31)

No disrespect intended towards Florian Mayer but top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will absolutely have settled for Mayer as a last eight opponent at the start of the tournament. It could have been first round casualty Tomas Berdych or Mayer’s opponent in the last sixteen Richard Gasquet for Djokovic in the quarter finals, both of which would undoubtedly have posed more problems for the Serbian. As it is, Djokovic will indeed face Mayer who has certainly been living a charmed life in SW19 over the last week and a half. Two five-set matches against compatriot Philipp Petzschner in round two and Jerzy Janowicz in round three could have seen Mayer eliminated from the tournament. Instead, he takes his place in his second Grand Slam quarter final, the first of which came eight years ago in this very tournament.

I don’t see how Mayer can take three sets off Djokovic tomorrow and whilst he may make it difficult to begin with, Djokovic will simply have far too much for the German and should easily advance to yet another Grand Slam semi final.

Selection: Novak Djokovic @ 1.04
Score Prediction: 3-0 @ 1.33

Roger Federer (3) vs Mikhail Youzhny (26)

If the head-to-head record for this match is anything to go by, Roger Federer is in for nothing more than a proverbial walk in the park on Centre Court come Wednesday afternoon. Federer has a commanding 13-0 record against the Russian with an aggregate set score over the thirteen matches of 29-3 which by anyone’s standards is pretty dominant. It’s difficult to make a case for the 26th seeded Youzhny. The pair have met on all surfaces (including five grass court meetings) and four times within the last twelve months and Youzhny hasn’t really come close to defeating the Swiss, pinching just one tie-break set here at Wimbledon in the round of 16 in 2011.

Perhaps the reason Federer has been so authoritative in their previous encounters is that he matches (and betters) Youzhny in just about every department. Both have stylish backhands, usually reliable serves, and consistently powerful ground strokes. The crucial downfall of Youzhny’s game in my opinion is the psychological side of things. On at least two occasions during this tournament alone, Youzhny has physically beat himself up when making silly errors and he just cannot afford to lose focus against the top players on tour, which is almost certainly why he has only beaten three top ten players since the start of 2010, they were Mardy Fish in Dubai earlier this year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Roland Garros in 2010 (albeit via a retirement), and Novak Djokovic in Rotterdam during the same year. Clearly Youzhny’s victories over the circuit’s best players are few and far between.

Federer himself hasn’t been his usual convincing self during the tournament. Aside from his relatively straightforward wins in both round one and round two, Roger had to come back from two sets down against Frenchman Julien Benneteau in round three, before appearing to feel the effects of the 3 hour 34 minute battle with Benneteau in his fourth round match against another veteran, this time Belgian Xavier Malisse. Federer isn’t known for needing the trainer during matches but on this occasion he had little choice. Clutching his back, Federer did indeed call for the trainer and probably wasn’t helped by the apparent cold and damp conditions around Centre Court. Nevertheless, he showed the fighting qualities of a champion and edged through in four sets and now that he has had the best part of two days rest, I don’t see this troubling him in his quarter final match.

I suspect the match could be a short one, especially if Federer takes the opening set and if he manages to do that, I’d be inclined to think the next two could be rather brief.

Selection: Roger Federer @ 1.15
Score Prediction: 3-0 @ 1.83

David Ferrer (7) vs Andy Murray (4)

I have to admit that I’m a little surprised to see David Ferrer in the last eight at Wimbledon and perhaps I shouldn’t be. He’s twice a grass court tournament winner and the championship seventh seed so he has every right to take his place in the last eight here at Wimbledon. I’ve been watching the Spaniard quite closely this season and not only because he has delivered on more than one occasion when tipped for this very column!

There can’t be many more consistent players on tour this season. Ferrer currently sits fourth in the ATP Rankings ‘Race to London’ (ahead of Wednesday’s opponent Murray) and this is largely down to his three tournament wins in Buenos Aires, Acapulco, and ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He’s also come on leaps and bounds on the green stuff and will be a genuine threat to Murray. I saw his match against Andy Roddick on Saturday and whilst the American came flying out of the blocks, Ferrer wore him down over four sets and was a worthy winner. His most impressive victory came on Monday afternoon when he completely demolished Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets, a result I personally didn’t foresee. He outclassed and outplayed Del Potro in every possible department and was more than justified in walking off court a straight sets victor. Crucially, the former result came outdoors whereas the latter result came ‘indoors’ under the roof so I wouldn’t be overly concerned if the weather prompted the event organisers to once again close the roof on Centre.

Excluding Djokovic, Andy Murray has arguably played the most impressive tennis of the tournament and there was no clearer example of this than his straightforward enough win against a dangerous opponent in Croatian Marin Cilic. Perhaps he was struggling from his marathon match against Sam Querrey on Saturday night, the second longest match in Wimbledon history. Nevertheless, Murray gave Cilic very few opportunities to gain a foothold in the match and would have been happy to come through unscathed. One criticism I have seen aimed at Murray particularly in his 3rd round match against Marcos Baghdatis was his passive approach to the match. I have to say this isn’t something I would tend to agree with. I just feel that Murray was finding his way in the match and was keen on not making too many errors and offering his opponent any cheap points. As it happened, Baghdatis is very much a momentum sort of player and got himself into a bit of a rhythm. In fairness though, once Murray removed Baghdatis from his comfort zone, there was only really one outcome. I would certainly have been concerned if Murray had approached the Cilic match in a similarly passive nature, this wasn’t something the fourth seed did, instead taking the match to the big-serving Cilic and dictating play wherever possible.

From what I’ve seen from both players over the last ten days or so, there’s very little to choose between the two. Murray is certainly the more adept grass court player, whilst Ferrer is probably playing the best tennis of his career right now and without question the best grass court tennis of his life. I’m of the belief however that Murray will just about be good enough to sneak past the tricky Spaniard but it won’t be easy. If Andy has realistic ambitions of beating Tsonga in the last four, he’ll definitely need to have this one over quickly. I think Murray will advance to another Grand Slam final but it’ll be very close indeed.

Selection: Andy Murray @ 1.45
Score Prediction: 3-1 @ 3.7

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (27)

I tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that Boris Becker would be a happy man at seeing two Germans in the last eight at Wimbledon, the first time such an occurrence has happened since 1997 when Michael Stich, Nicolas Kiefer, and Becker himself reached this stage. Philip Kohlschreiber is perhaps a little less surprising than Florian Mayer, especially as he has a grass court pedigree, albeit not at Grand Slam level. It was only three weeks ago in Halle that Kohlschreiber upset Rafael Nadal in straight sets to demonstrate that he’s able to beat the best players on this surface. I think Kohlschreiber’s run at Wimbledon could come to an end at the hands of fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday, which should hopefully set up a repeat of the 2011 Queen’s Club final between Tsonga and Andy Murray.

Kohlschreiber is a player that I’ve always found difficult to pinpoint just when it is he’ll show up, he’s infuriatingly inconsistent, especially as he possesses bags of ability and can really trouble the top players on a going day. Much like the Federer/Youzhny match, I just feel Tsonga will excel in most departments and should have more than enough to see off the German. The pair have met on six occasions with Tsonga leading 5-1. Incidentally the pair have never met on grass, nor have they met in a Grand Slam environment so this is certainly new territory for the both of them. One thing their last four meetings seem to point to is a straight sets win for Tsonga and this will be my bet for this particular match.

Selection: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga @ 1.34
Score Prediction: 3-0 @ 2.73

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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