the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 9 Preview

Murray might

Monday, 29 June 2009

Photo Titled Murray might
Andy Murray remains strong during his fourth round match with Stanislas Wawrinka.

In keeping with the interest that the men's game is attracting these days, the line-up for this afternoon's quarter-finals at the 2009 Championships is a richly varied one. Eight places, eight countries represented - from Switzerland, home of the five-time champion, Roger Federer, on through Australia (Lleyton Hewitt), the United States (Andy Roddick), Spain (Juan Carlos Ferrero), Germany (Tommy Haas), Serbia (Novak Djokovic), Croatia (Ivo Karlovic) and, finishing with a triumphant tootle on the trumpet, Andy Murray of Britain.

Andy was last spotted, about 10.40pm on Monday, on his knees on the Centre Court turf, very tired but a happy bunny. He had skewered the robust challenge of Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka and is now looking forward to the possibility of smiling across the net at another Swiss, one Roger Federer, on Sunday afternoon. A couple of other hurdles would precede such an outcome, of course, and the first one crops up in today's second match on the very Centre Court that has been Andy's home for 10 days now.

If anyone had forecast before the tournament began that Murray would fetch up against Spanish opposition in the last eight, the presumption would have been that Rafael Nadal was that man, the very same Spaniard who blighted Andy's life at this same stage a year ago. Dodgy knees having removed Rafa, however, the Iberian ticket for today's match has been picked up by Juan Carlos Ferrero who, if he hasn't done so already, should consider penning a note of thanks to the good folk at the All England Lawn Tennis Club who offered him a wild card, thereby already making him £106,250 richer as a quarter-finalist.

The card was offered, presumably, on the strength of this 29-year-old's place in the last eight of the 2007 Championships and, much more importantly, his annexing of the Roland Garros title in 2003. That this was done on clay is deemed to be irrelevant. A Grand Slam champion is a Grand Slam champion, for all that.

How marvellously Ferrero has responded to the gesture, dropping just three sets in four victories which included the eighth and 10th seeds, Gilles Simon and Fernando Gonzalez. Now he comes up against the lad who has assumed the mantle of Hope of the Nation from Tim Henman.

Ferrero was just 23 when he won the French Open, so he will be familiar with the 22-year-old Murray's hopes and concerns, although he won his Slam away from home, whereas Andy is very much on home turf and wearing the sponsored clothing of the company that bears the name of the last British champion, Fred Perry, 73 years ago.

The two crossed rackets quite recently, in the semi-finals of the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club, with Murray winning 6-2, 6-4. So a marker has been laid down and Murray will be hoping that his labours this afternoon will be as rewarding as they were on Monday night under the lights and the roof, but involving considerably less expenditure of sweat.

Karlovic is the master blaster of the service action and has not dropped serve so far

Ferrero is one of five former Grand Slam champions in today's last eight, a remarkable number that has not happened at Wimbledon since 1993. In addition to Ferrero there are Federer, with 14 of them to his name, Hewitt (Wimbledon 2002 and US Open 2001), Roddick (US Open 2003) and Djokovic (Australia 2008). In addition, four of those five have seen number one written alongside their name, Djokovic being the only exception here. And Djokovic is aligned with Ferrero as someone who has yet to win a grass championship.

Federer, in pursuit of his sixth Wimbledon and, with it, a record-breaking 15 Grand Slam titles, goes on to the firing range where the giant dealer of aces, Ivo Karlovic, awaits him in the Centre Court opener. Unlike many, Federer has shown a heart-warming ability to handle the rockets that the 6ft 10in Karlovic delivers from on high, having won eight of their nine previous matches. But in the 22 sets played, no fewer than 12 went to the tiebreak.

There is much riding on this one. Federer is bidding to reach his 21st consecutive Grand Slam semi-final. And, having won his past 16 matches, the Swiss is embarked on his longest winning streak since the summer of 2007, when he clocked up 18 in succession.

Karlovic is appearing in his first Grand Slam quarter-final, having lost in Wimbledon's first round for the past four years, though he will long be remembered as the man who halted the defending champion, Hewitt, in his tracks on the opening day here in 2003.

The Croatian is the master blaster of the service action and has not dropped serve so far in 79 service games in his four matches. Those four contests have produced 137 aces for Karlo and he will be anxious for further progress, if only to challenge the Wimbledon aces record held by his compatriot Goran Ivanisevic who hit 212 en route to the title in 2001.

The Roddick-Hewitt set-to on No.1 Court promises to be a humdinger. Hewitt leads 6-5 but Roddick has won their past four matches, including Queen's three weeks ago. Both men are expert practitioners on grass, Roddick's is the heavier serve but Hewitt's is arguably the bigger heart. It promises to be memorable, with the American rediscovering his form this year under the coaching of Larry Stefanki and Hewitt battling his way back up the rankings following hip surgery last year.

Djokovic and Haas also met recently on grass, in the Halle final, and the German was the delighted victor in his homeland, though he spends his time at Bradenton, Florida, where he attended the Bollettieri Academy from the age of 11 and liked it so much he never left. He is now 31, the oldest man left in the last eight, and opposes the youngest in Djokovic, who is just 22, and exactly one week younger than Murray.

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