Wimbledon 2008 – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Quarterfinals
Nick’s Picks will have complete coverage of Wimbledon 2008, and we are teaming with Tennis Week and The Independent Newspaper in London to provide in-depth analysis throughout the tournament! Also, be sure to listen for Nick on Radio Wimbledon each day at 4pm EST!
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Mario Ancic (CRO)
Federer was pushed by Lleyton Hewitt in the first set of his fourth round match, but after that Federer only lost six total games. He had 21 aces and was 3/3 on break chances, which is a great mix for success on grass. He has yet to drop a set, and it is going to take one heck of a performance to take him down.
Ancic might have played the match of the tournament thus far, with his fourth round victory over Fernando Verdasco. He won 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 13-11 in a match that took almost four hours. He last reached the quarters here in 2006, and guess who he lost to? None other than Roger Federer!
Federer is 5-1 against Ancic, with the lone loss coming back in 2002 at Wimbledon in the first round. That was the last time Federer lost on these hallowed grounds. First off I want to congratulate Ancic for his outstanding play thus far. He made an unbelievable comeback in the fourth round, and it is great to see him back and healthy again. Simply outstanding tennis from the Croat.
Ancic is very solid from the baseline, he takes the ball early, has an excellent serve, and loves to come into the net. Against Verdasco, he came in 66 times and 61% of those points. He is going to need similar results here. I really believe to beat Federer in this match, Ancic must take some risks and hit a little bigger than he is used to. He has already played two five set matches, as well as an emotionally exhausting four-setter against Ferrer. Needless to say, the longer this match goes the more it favors Federer.
Speaking of Federer, he won last year’s Wimbledon because of his serve. If he wins it again this year, he can thank his serve again. In my opinion it is his biggest weapon. He goes down the “T” a lot, and also hits a heavy kicking serve that bothers his opponents. He also hits a very effective second serve. Right now, I just think Federer is on a roll. He has cut down on his forehand errors and it hitting out from the backhand side. Ancic will compete, and may take a set, but I give Federer the edge.
Nick’s Pick – Federer in 4 sets
Rainer Schuettler (GER) vs. Arnaud Clement (FRA)
The 32-year old German, Schuettler, came into the tournament ranked #94 in the world. In nine previous appearances at Wimbledon, he had never been past the fourth round and this is only the second time he has been in the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam event. He’s been ranked has high of #5 in the world, but hasn’t been in the top 40 since early 2005.
The last time Clement played in the second week at Wimbledon was 2002, since then he has lost in the first or second round every year. Coming into Wimbledon he only had 13 ATP level matches under his belt in 2008, and was ranked #145 in the world. To say this is an unexpected result is an understatement.
Schuettler is 4-1 against Clement, with their most recent meeting coming earlier this year in the first round of the Australian Open (Schuettler won in four sets). I don’t think anybody in their right mind picked this as one of their quarterfinal matches, but that’s sports! First off, this is not going to be a short match. If you are going to be in attendance (or sitting on Henman Hill) I would recommend that you bring a bag lunch, some extra strawberries and cream, and be prepared to sit! Both these players are consistent, not flashy, and will keep the ball in play enough to frustrate even the most patient players. Clement loves to play on grass, has a good base, and moves well. However, Schuettler plays very well on the grass too! He is very competitive and is playing at an extremely high level right now. This is going to be tight, but I give a slight edge to Schuettler.
Nick’s Pick – Schuettler in 4 or 5
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs. Marat Safin (RUS)
Lopez needed five sets to beat Marcos Baghdatis, but came out the victor 8-6 in the fifth. He had only played one grass court match before Wimbledon, of which he lost to Nicolas Mahut in three sets. With that being said, he has been to the quarterfinals here before (2005) and reached the fourth round twice before that (2002 and 2003).
Just when you think Safin’s career is over, he comes out and reaches the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. He came in with a 10-13 record on the year, and ranked #75 in the world with absolutely no expectations so for him to be still playing is remarkable. We all know how talented he is, it is just a matter of his mental focus.
Lopez is 4-1 against Safin, and beat him at Wimbledon back in 2005. This is not going to be easy match for Safin, because of the big lefty serve of Lopez. The one thing Safin cannot do is get frustrated. He has to stay very strong mentally, and absolutely cannot afford to lose his serve, because breaking Lopez isn’t easy! As much as I have been rooting for Safin, I have to keep my emotions out of it and just look at the stats. When you do that, you have to give the edge to Lopez. I cannot compliment Safin enough for his outstanding play, congrats again to Marat!
Nick’s Pick – Lopez in 4 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Nadal continued his astonishing play with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round. Once again he had a low number of unforced errors (13) and got 70% of his first serves in. That has really been his ticket to the winner’s circle throughout the tournament. Nadal has only committed a total of 53 errors in four matches! That is incredible.
Murray needed every bit of five sets to beat fellow youngster Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. After dropping the first two sets, Murray came back and won the third in a tiebreaker and then went on to win the match 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-4. This is the first career Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance for Murray.
Nadal is 3-0 against Murray in his career, including a win over him earlier this year at Hamburg (on clay). To bet against Nadal (before he plays Federer), would not be a smart play. Murray is one of my favorite players to watch and when he comes to the Academy, I have really enjoyed working with him. His competitive desire is second to none, and he has really played well at Wimbledon this year. Murray has improved just about every part of his game, but staying back at the baseline would not be a smart move when playing Nadal. Simply because Nadal’s heavy spinning balls will wear him down. Nadal’s improved serve and backhand, combined with the fact that he isn’t making many unforced errors give him an unbeatable recipe. I know this match is in front of the British fans, but I don’t care where you play Nadal. He is like an Air Force Pilot, Army Ranger, and Navy Seal combined. He will beat you in the sky, under water, or on the land!!
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 4