Friday, July 13, 2018

2018 WIMBLEDON: Men's Semifinals Preview (and Predictions)

Here are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2018. This year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals. Last year I correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals. I also predicted this year's women's semifinals.

Roger Federer (SUI) [1] Kevin Anderson (RSA) [8] vs John Isner (USA) [9].  Things were going so well for the 8-time major champion Roger Federer in the tournament right before he was shockingly dismissed in a 5-set thriller, losing 13-11 in the decider. He had equaled his record of 34 consecutive sets won after taking the first two sets of his match with Kevin Anderson, who had never won a set against him, and he sported a 266-2 record in majors when up 2-0. However, somehow Anderson maintained his composure and won the last 3 sets and the match, to reach his first Wimbledon semifinal. There he will face a familiar opponent, John Isner who will also be playing in his first Wimbledon semifinal which is also his first major final. Isner has not had his serve broken through 5 matches, the best of any of the semifinalists. Of course this means that he has played a lot of tiebreakers in this tournament, but Isner plays a lot of tiebreaks in every tournament. At age 33, Isner is clearly playing the best tennis of his career. And instead of facing the best grasscourt player of all time to reach a major final, he will face Anderson, someone with whom he has a 8-to-3 head-to-head lead. There's also the statistic that the last 3 people to beat Federer before the final went on to lose their next match (Raonic in 2016, Stakhovsky in 2013 and Tsonga in 2011). Aderson is serious enough that I believe this will be at least a 4-set match and *probably* not a reprise of Isner's 70-68 match with Mahut, but there are going to be a LOT of aces between the two, and not a lot of rallies. PREDICTION: Isner.

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2] vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB) [12]. Although the Federer-Nadal rivalry is more heralded, but the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry is at least as significant to men's tennis. The two have played 51 times and Djokovic leads 26-25. But this doesn't tell the entire story because they have met 13 times at majors and Nadal leads 9-4. Nadal-Djokovic LII is happening in the semifinals of Wimbledon, where Djokovic is a 3-time champion (he has never lost a final here, even despite playing Federer twice!) and Nadal has won twice in 5 finals, with this year being the 10th anniversary of his very first win here (over Federer) in the Greatest Match of All Time. I am fairly confident whomever wins this semifinal will win the 2018 title over whomever wins the other semifinal. The real question that will be answered by the result of this match is whether Djokovic is back and ready to compete at the very top of men's tennis again. From the looks of things, that answer is yes. We know Nadal is already at the top of his game (after all he is the World #1 ranked player, and will probably end the year at #1 unless Djokovic manages to win both of the last two majors of the year or Federer wins in New York. Regardless, this should be a battle of epic proportions. PREDICTION: Djokovic.

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