Wimbledon men’s semi-final preview

Three of the top four seeds have successfully navigated their way into the semi-finals, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray joined by 21st Richard Gasquet.

Novak Djokovic (1) v Richard Gasquet (21)

Djokovic and Gasquet are first up on Centre Court, with the world number one the overwhelming favourite and having won 11 of their 12 meetings. Djokovic will write Gasquet off at his peril though. Having fallen foul of Stan Wawrinka's stinging one-handed backhand at the French Open, Djokovic now comes up against a player with a similar, if not more potent, backhand.

Gasquet is playing in just his third grand slam semi-final, a far cry from the 27 that Djokovic has featured in, but he's a seasoned professional and importantly has the benefit of playing with no pressure whatsoever. The Frenchman has spoken of his belief that he is not in the same league as the other semi-finalists, but he also believes that he has what it takes to beat Djokovic.

“I need to play a big game, to be aggressive," he said.

"It is important for me to think I can win this match. Novak is the favourite. Everybody knows that. I’m proud because there are big players in the semis – Federer, Djokovic, Murray. I’m the worst. But it is eight years since I was in the semis here. I was 21, I’m 29 now, I have more experience.”

A fourth-round scare against Kevin Anderson aside, Djokovic has looked composed and in control of his title defence. The five-set encounter with the South African was the only match thus far in which the Serb has dropped a set, and normal service was soon resumed against Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic is a 1/10 favourite with the bookmakers, embarrassingly low odds, and he there is good reason for it.

 

Roger Federer (2) v Andy Murray (3)

With all due respect to Djokovic and Gasquet, this is the match that everyone is looking forward. In what is a repeat of the 2012 final, Federer and Murray face off in an inrtiguing encounter that is sure to thrill. 

Murray is a very different player to the one that broke down in tears following his 2012 final defeat. He returned to Centre Court just 28 days later and beat Federer in the Olympic final and would go on to break the grand slam curse, winning the US Open and Wimbledon.

Federer has remained at the top of the game despite long-running predictions that he is on the decline. However, while almost always there or thereabouts, Federer has not added to his 17 grand slam titles, and Wimbledon provides the best chance of him winning number 18.

The Swiss ace's serve has been a key weapon of late – he dropped his first game of the tournament in his quarter-final clash with Gilles Simon – and has faced just three break points throughout, but in Murray he faces one of the game's best returners. It's these battles within the battle that make this match such a cracking encounter.

Federer heads into the match having beaten Murray the last three times in which they have played, including a 6-0-, 6-1 hammering at the ATP Tour Finals last year. However, that match was something of an oddity, with a long season appearing to take its toll on Murray incredibly, and neither player is likely to take much from that result.

If both players can bring their 'A' games we could be in store for one of Wimbledon's greatest semi-finals. As for a prediction? It's just too close to call.

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