LONDON – Five thoughts from men’s quarterfinal day at Wimbledon.
• Roger Federer scored one of the bigger wins of his career—which is saying something—coming back from a 0-2 deficit and staving off match points to beat Marin Cilic 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Federer started slow but finished strong—“playing super-great” as he put it—and is back in another Grand Slam Final Four at (all together now) almost 35 years of age.
• Andy Murray watched as the first Centre Court match ended with a player (Federer) winning the last three sets. He was determined it would not befall him. After leading Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 6-1, Murray retreated while the opponent started dialing in his shots. With a crowd deflated and nervous, Murray gave himself the most stern of pep talks and rallied to win and stay alive in his bid to win this event for a second time.
• Milos Raonic was the first man through today, reaching his second Wimbledon semifinal and second Slam semi of 2016. Sometimes tennis stats can be misleading. Other times, they paint a vivid portrait. Milos Raonic committed six unforced errors in the first two sets. He won 87% of his first serve points and, more significantly, 71% of his second serve points and prevailed over Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. We now have a semifinal (Raonic v. Federer) pitting two players who were both down 0-2 sets in this tournament.
• In the fourth match, Tomas Berdych—a finalist here in 2010—got through the first set over surprise quarterfinalist Lucas Pouille and then turned it on, cruising in straight sets. For a guy who needed five sets and two days to win his Round of 16 match, Berdych got himself back on schedule and spent less than two hours on court today.
• Lost in the singles chatter, we had an upset in doubles. Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Rajeev Ram from the Cape Town on the Wabash that is Indianapolis, upset the Bryan Brothers, Bob and Mike. The Bryans have now gone since the 2014 U.S. Open without winning a major.
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There is one argument in the calendar Slam discussion that I haven't seen anyone make yet but that I think is very pertinent. In order to win the traditional calendar Slam, you have to be in Slam-winning shape for eight months straight (mid-January thru mid-September), or even less in Rod Laver's days, when the Aussie Open was still held in December (if I remember correctly). However, in order to do what Williams did (U.S. thru Wimbledon), you need to maintain Slam-winning form for ten and a half months; and in Novak Djokovic's case (Wimbledon thru French), for more than eleven months. I don't mean this to be a strict math exercise, but can we perhaps agree that remaining in Slam-winning form, and withstanding the pressure that comes from winning consecutive Slams, for a longer period of time than necessary to win a calendar Slam is at least as admirable an athletic and mental achievement as the latter? In other words, the asterisking of what Williams and Djokovic accomplished needs to stop!
—Tim Z., Albuquerque, N.M.
• Interesting point. It’s a fairly artificial designation, especially in a 12-month sport like tennis. But rules are rules. Which is why players tighten and hype expands when it’s a calendar Slam, in a way it doesn't when it’s a 12-month job.
I missed your segment on Sharapova's future. Please share the gist of it??
• Here you go.
Bencic-Hingis on board for women's doubles in Rio...does this open the door for that dream Federer-Hingis pairing in mixed? Would be an amazing follow up to their Hopman Cup win in 2001.
• Part of me was still holding out hope for Federer/Vavrinec. But, yes, Federer/Hingis would not only be great fun, but would have a real medal chance. I would think so, anyway. I defy you to find a sport harder to handicap than mixed doubles.
If Querrey and Cilic can advance tomorrow we may get a Davis Cup preview!
• I’m answering this before the match but I think one of those happens, max. Not two. Let’s hope not, anyway. Simply for stylistic reasons, Querrey-Cilic ain’t for stylists. You know the “tap to snooze” option on your iPhone alarm….
• Today’s Reader Rant—which is not a rant at all, but a stat for which we are appreciative—comes from Blake Redabaugh of Denver, Co.:
I know it's a little early but with Venus in the semis it's worth mentioning that if Kerber beats Venus in the semis and then Serena in the final she'll be the first player to beat both the Williams sisters in the final two rounds to win a major.
Here's a full list of players who have beat both sisters in a tournament:
1998 Sydney: Sanchez Vicario (beat Serena in the semis, Venus in the finals)
1999 Sydney: Graf (Serena round of 16, Venus QF)
2001 Australian Open: Hingis (Serena QF, Venus SF)
2002 WTA tour championships: Clijsters (Venus SF, Serena F)
2004 LA: Davenport (Venus SF, Serena F)
2007 U.S. Open: Henin (Serena QF, Venus SF)
2009 U.S. Open: Clijsters (Venus round of 16, Serena SF)
2010 Rome: Jankovic (Venus QF, Serena SF)
So Henin is the only play to defeat them back to back and go on to win a major.