The men’s semis: Isner vs. Anderson, Djokovic vs. Nadal

FROM WIMBLEDON, July 13 –

ISNER VS. ANDERSON

Is it for real that the American John Isner has reached the semifinal at Wimbledon? It is real,  as he has won five matches in a row. He is 33-years-old, and he is a very tall man, and his first and second serves are gigantic. But, on certain days, he was calm and cool, and other days, he would get angry and check out.

But on Friday, Isner will have a good chance against Kevin Anderson. The veteran Anderson have improved a good amount of the past year and a half, stunning Roger Federer in the quarters. His backhand is heavier, he returns a little bit better, and of course, his forehand, his serve and even at the net, he is totally controled.   

They know each other very well.

“There could be a little mental aspect in our match. I say that because our rivalry, goes back way before the pro tour,” Isner said. “We played each other in college probably three, four, five times. We played each other a bunch on the pro tour. We’ve been lined up against each other for about 14 years now, because he left Illinois when I left Georgia. We’ve been doing it ever since.
“For me this matchup, and I think for him as well, is especially cool. It’s a very nice spotlight on college tennis, that one of us, no matter what, is going to be playing in the Wimbledon final. We’re duking it out in the semifinals.”

While Anderson has reached the 2017 US Open, final, which is very good, but playing against Isner, he cannot figure him out. Or maybe he finally has. Isner has beaten Anderson eight times, and the South African has won only three times. In the last five matches, Isner has prevailed. In 2015 at Indian Wells, on the hardcourts Isner knocked him back 7-6, 6-2.  That is the last time they have played, so it has been more than three years. They both have changed somewhat, and this week, they are rocking. There will be short points, and I would think there will be a few tiebreaks. In the end, Isner will hit so many aces that he will reach the final in five sets.

NADAL VS. DJOKOVIC

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic will clash in the semis. That will be their 52th contest. That is a record, which is mind blowing. In 2007, Nadal beat Djokovic in the semis at Wimbledon, when the Serbian retired. In 2011, Djokovic beat him in four sets in the final. That has been a long time now on grass, but still, having to skid, they are more comfortable at the net, and to know that when they return, they have to hit it deep.
         
Djokovic has won Nadal 26 times, and Rafa has beaten Novak 25 times. They are nearly even.

“Always is a big challenge face Novak. Is one of the more complex players that I ever saw on our sport.” Nadal said. “Is always a big test. You know that you can’t win against him if you don’t play very well. My goal is to try to play very well. I know in semifinals of Wimbledon you will not have an easy opponent in front. You have to accept that if you want to win important things. You will face the best players. You need to be ready.”

Since April, on clay, Nadal won just about everything. But on grass, it’s different. Now on the surface, it has been warm so the balls bounces up on the court. Also, when it is dry, you can slip and fall down. That is the way the balls bounce .

We all know that Nadal has a mammoth lefty forehand that is better than Djokovic, and the Serbian has a better sharp backhand. They are tied on with the first serves — twising balls —  and at the net, putting it away, very low, competent.

While Djokovic is surging, that doesn’t mean that he is 100 percent emotionally. Maybe he will find his fighting spirit on Friday, but Nadal is so focused. Rafa will win in five marvelous sets.

THE WOMEN

On Saturday, Serena Williams and Angie Kerber will be ready to clash. Serena is almost back, playing wise, and Kerber is driven. The last time they played, back in 2016 in the final at Wimbledon, Serena served big and consistent, and she found the lines in two sets. But it was close, and now, they have aged over the past two years. They are crafty, they are very strong, and they can smack both sides, the forehands and the backhand. Neither of them like to go to the net, but Serena’s second serve is substactially better, but Kerber is faster. Also in 2016, the German won her first Slams, beating Ms. Williams in three sets at the Australian Open. So right now, this weekend, they are almost even. Obviously, neither of them will be very nervous. They have played so many Slams, and neither of them will shake in their boots.
They will go into the third set, and Serena will hit it deeper and deeper until Kerber will fold. Serena will win in three sets. The dominator.

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