Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wimbledon 2013 | Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro July 5, 2013

The semifinal is No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.

"This is my first semifinal ever, so I don't know what to expect." The rest of the guys left are more accustomed to being at this stage. Especially Djokovic, who extended his streak to 13 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals - second in history only to Roger Federer's 23 - by beating No. 7 Tomas Berdych 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3. Djokovic entered Wednesday with a 13-2 lead in their head-to-head series, but one loss came at Wimbledon in 2010, when Berdych was the runner-up, and the other came in their most recent meeting, at Rome in May.

Wednesday's first set was tight as can be, and Tomas Berdych led 5-4 in the tiebreaker before faltering. He sent a return long, missed what should have been a routine backhand, then pushed a forehand wide for another error. That gave Djokovic the opening set, but Berdych responded toughly, breaking twice to lead 3-0 in the second.

Not surprisingly, Djokovic arise again, taking seven of the next eight games. "I don't know how I managed to turn the second set around," said six-time major champion Djokovic, who won Wimbledon in 2011. "I managed to step in and just tried to be a little bit more aggressive. That brought me a victory." He's won all 15 sets he's played the past weeks, as has Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, after his 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win against No. 4 David Ferrer. At the start, though, things looked grim for del Potro. On the fifth point against Ferrer, the 6-foot-6 Argentine's left foot slid out from under him as he sprinted to reach a ball. Del Potro's heavily wrapped left knee, which he hyperextended on a face-first tumble in the third round, slackened, then bent backward. "Really painful," del Potro said.

"I was scared." He fell to the turf and rolled over twice, then stayed down until a trainer came out to check on him and dispense anti-inflammatory medicine. "Magic pills," del Potro called them. After a 10-minute break, he resumed playing - and playing quite well. He has until Friday to get ready for his third career major semifinal, and first at Wimbledon. Del Potro is 3-8 against Djokovic, but won their most recent meeting (at Indian Wells in March) and their only previous encounter at the All England Club.

"I will need to be 100 percent - or 110 percent - against him," del Potro said.

Twelve months ago, he wept after losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, dropping to 0-4 in Grand Slam title matches. Four weeks later, also at the All England Club, Murray defeated Federer for an Olympic gold medal. And then Murray finally earned a major championship, beating Djokovic in five sets at the U.S. Open. Murray then reached a third consecutive Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but lost to Djokovic there. All of that recent success helped Murray against Verdasco. "When you play more and more matches, and gain more experience, you understand how to turn matches around and how to change the momentum of games," the 26-year-old said.

It has been a Wimbledon fortnight filled with more than its share of upsets. The men’s two top seeds, however, have not been part of the landslide of eliminations which took out the top three seeds on the women’s side of the draw. Novak Djokovic has progressed through his section of the draw without much difficulty. Coming into the semifinals, the No. 1 seed has not dropped a set. Also surviving into the semifinals is former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro who’s finally beginning to regain the form that won him a major championship in 2009. The No. 8 seed, del Potro also breezed through, not not dropping a set. Djokovic will be trying for his second Wimbledon Championship after capturing his first during his historic season in 2011. Del Potro will be trying to reach his first championship match at the All England Club. Which man will advance to the final?. Read the following analysis and prediction of their upcoming match.

Djokovic has, of course, been here before in the final rounds on Centre Court while his opponent is reaching the semifinals for the first time at Wimbledon. In 2013, the world No. 1 won the Australian Open, Dubai and Monte Carlo while reaching the semifinals of the French Open. He owns a 33-5 record this year, coming into Wimbledon. During the past three seasons at Wimbledon, Djokovic has reached the semifinals, winning the title outright in 2011 over Rafael Nadal. Juan Martin del Potro holds a 20-8 record so far in 2013, showing vast improvement as the Wimbledon fortnight got underway. Earlier this year he won the tournament in Rotterdam and reached the finals at Indian Wells where he lost to Rafael Nadal. He went out in the third round at the 2013 Australian Open but was forced to skip the French Open this year due to illness. Del Potro’s furthest reach at the All England Club prior to this year was the fourth round. He lost in that round first to David Ferrer in 2012 and then to Rafael Nadal in 2011. Altogether, the Argentine has played the Wimbledon tournament five times. Del Potro has faced Djokovic 11 times throughout his career, winning three. The last time they met at Indian Wells this year, Del Potro won in three sets. He also defeated Djokovic at last year’s Summer Olympics held on the grounds of the All England Club. That was there only contest on grass. Based only on their total history, however, you have to give the nod to Djokovic who's been here before.

Novak Djokovic has looked stronger as the Wimbledon fortnight progressed. He’s not lost a set so far in the tournament. On his way to the semifinals, he defeated two seeded players, starting with (28) Jeremy Chardy in the third round and then (13) Tommy Haas in the fourth. His quarterfinal opponent was the No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych. They played to a first set tiebreak with Berdych blinking down 6-5. Djokovic capitalized to win the opener 7-6. Falling behind 0-3 in the second set, Djokovic fought his way back to level the set at 3-3. Then he broke Berdych's serve, winning the second set 6-4. Finally he took the third 6-3 to close out the match in three sets. It was a very impressive display on Court No. 1 by the world No. 1. He will be primed and ready to face the Argentine during the semifinals on Friday.

After taking a big spill in the opening game of his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro eased his way back into their match, breaking the Ferrer serve twice to win the first set 6-2. Then the Argentine won the second set 6-4 with single break of serve, growing more comfortable on the terrain of Centre Court. Their third set went to a tiebreak with del Potro finally prevailing 7-6 to take the match. Del Potro has not not lost a set so far in the Championships. He also did not face a seeded player until the fourth round when he took out (23) Andreas Seppi in straight sets. His match against the No. 4 seed Ferrer was impressive because the Argentine was able to keep up with the scrambling, energetic Spaniard stroke for stroke. They played high level tennis throughout. Del Potro looks as good as he’s ever looked during the Wimbledon fortnight.

Given the compromised state of the world No. 8’s physical condition, Novak Djokovic looks like the better bet on Friday. He definitely leads in their head to head. Another thing you must keep in mind is that since his wrist injury and recovery after winning the 2009 U.S. Open, del Potro has fought to regain his game. It has been a very slow process. Complicated by further injury and illness, del Potro seems to be rounding into form at this moment in time. He will not simply fold up his tent and go away. If Djokovic wins this match, it will be because he earned his spot in the final. Were the Argentine in better shape physically, the match could conceivably go his way. But under the circumstances, Novak Djokovic will advance to his second Wimbledon final in three years.

Wimbledon 2013 | Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro July 5, 2013
Wimbledon 2013 | Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro July 5, 2013
Wimbledon 2013 | Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro July 5, 2013
Wimbledon 2013 | Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin del Potro July 5, 2013


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