Wimbledon 2018: Preview of the Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic semi-final
It was a breathtaking quarter-final match between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro, with the World No. 1 defeating the Argentine in hard-fought five sets. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic made short work of his opponent, Kei Nishikori by cruising in four sets. But with Roger Federer ousted, the result has deprived fans of the potential Rafa vs Roger final, that many had been waiting for since their epic 2008 final.
It has now come down to a semi-final showdown between arch-rivals Nadal and Djokovic, who will slug it out for the 52nd time in their careers -- the most number of matches played between two players in the Open Era.
The World No. 1 has reached the semi-final stage at Wimbledon after a drought of 7 years, whereas the Serbian has reached the last-four stage of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2016.
Here's a look at the two men's semi-finals:
The No.12 seeded Djokovic leads the head-head meetings 26-25 but Nadal has had the upper hand in the duo's last two encounters. The Spaniard leads 2-1 on grass with their last grass court clash happening in 2011 Wimbledon final, which Novak won in four sets.
The two-time Wimbledon champion played a fantastic quarter-final and, even after being two sets to one down, he managed to claw back and held his nerve in the crucial points. But against Djokovic, he needs to be more aggressive and try to fend off Novak's blistering backhand shots. Unlike Del Potro, the Serbian is powerhouse reserve and gets better as the game rolls on. The Spaniard has to come to the net more often to cut down on the long rallies.
The World No. 21 has been in sublime form en route to the semi-final stage and seems to have got his mojo back. Although he really hasn't been tested yet, Nadal will pose a huge threat to his campaign as the World No.1 has been playing in top form and is coming into the match after beating a tough opponent.
It is imperative for Djokovic to improve his first serve percentage and keep up with his solid returns if he wants to have a chance against the now favourite. The former champion is pretty confident as he admitted after his quarter-final win that he seems to be peaking at the right moment at the right time.
John Isner vs Kevin Anderson semi-final:
The other semi-final showdown is between the two tallest players on the men's tour. The 6 foot 10 John Isner has been in impeccable form and won comfortably against Milos Roanic in their quarter-final meeting. On the other hand, Anderson pulled off the win of his career by ousting the defending champion Roger Federer even after being a match point down.
It will be intriguing to watch them pounding each other with their huge service games, but Anderson's solid baseline game makes him the slight favourite at the penultimate stage.
But the head-head looks lopsided in Isner's favour as he leads 8-3 in their 11 encounters, and has won in his last five meetings against Anderson.