Wimbledon 2011 Men’s Semi Finals Preview

The 2011 Wimbledon men’s semi finals start today at 1pm local time in London, with both matches being played on centre court one after the other. To watch the tennis in Singapore just add 7 hours so the matches will kick off at 8pm.

The 2011 Wimbledon men’s singles semi finals are:

  1. Rafael NADAL (1) versus (4) Andy MURRAY
  2. Jo-Wilfried TSONGA (12) versus (2) Novak DJOKOVIC

The Semi final schedule for Day 11 – Friday 1 July is:

1st match on Centre Court is DJOKOVIC versus TSONGA followed immediately by NADAL versus MURRAY.

In most commentary around the world a No.1 versus No.2 Nadal/Djokovic final would be the popular view of who the men’s final will be contested between this Sunday. Read on for an interesting perspective on why there is a great opportunity for neither of those players to even make the final!

Current World No.1 Rafael Nadal can only retain his ranking IF Djokovic loses his semi final against Tsonga. Djokovic trails Nadal by just 65 ATP ranking points coming into Wimbledon. Nadal must win the title to maintain his ranking points tally and because he won Wimbledon last year he cannot gain any more points. Djokovic made the semi finals at Wimbledon last year so he has maintained his ranking points total. A semi final victory and hence, a career best result at Wimbledon, would earn him at least an additional 600 ranking points.

The pressure is definitely weighing on Djokovic’s shoulders. This was demonstrated in his tough and tight struggle against teen qualifier Bernard Tomic in a 4-set quarter final. Djokovic has never earned the World No.1 ranking before, so for him to be so close to achieving one of his main career goals on the line, that may prove to be a huge burden as opposed to a great incentive. Nadal is certainly showing his telltale signs that the pressure to win both the semi final and final is getting to him.

The stage is set for high drama and a great intensity that is not to be missed!

In the few Grand Slams that Nadal has been defeated in over the past few years, he has always protected his self-confidence. This is one of the keys to his consistent success as self-confidence is so critical in being successful. His off-court strategy has been to have the media NOT treat him as the clear favourite, by explaining how hard it is for him to even play given his current physical fitness, either before his match or after he loses.

Djokovic is being offered up as the favourite by Nadal. Djokovic leads the ATP Tour in pretty much every aspect in 2011, including having won 7 singles titles and posting 46 wins to only 1 loss this year. Nadal announced, after his round of 16 win against 2009 US Open singles champion Juan Martin del Potro, that he was suffering so much pain in his ankle at the end of the first set (of a four set epic battle) that he might have to quit Wimbledon after scheduling an MRI scan of his ankle to see if it was fractured.

Nadal is the clear favourite from here on in given he has proven so many times in the past that he almost always comes through with a title from this stage of a Grand Slam singles event. Nadal won his 10th Grand Slam singles last month at Roland Garros and will strip every last thing of what he has to bite into his 3rd Wimbledon winner’s trophy in a row.

Nadal was the runner-up at Wimbledon to Roger Federer in 2006 and in 2007 before reversing the result against Federer in 2008. In 2009 Nadal missed Wimbledon with an injury before returning to win last year’s title in straight sets against Tomas Berdych. Nadal’s record in Grand Slam singles finals is 10-2 and in semi finals it is 12-3. The amazing Nadal completed his career Grand Slam by claiming his first US Open last year and is unbeaten at Wimbledon in his last 19 matches.

Murray is undoubtedly continually creeping closer and closer to winning a Grand Slam singles title. The local favourite has most probably achieved more in tennis than any other man before winning a Grand Slam title. Murray has defeated Nadal on 4 occasions already and should have huge crowd support, which may prove to be the perfect anti-dote for Murray’s predisposition to mentally self-implode in huge matches and prevent his upper end level of tennis to come out when he needs it to.

Tsonga (pictured above), thrives on excitement and seems to be REALLY enjoying his tennis. He is also in the state of mind where he is not crippled by the pressure of the situation, as he was against Djokovic in his sole Grand Slam single final to date. It seems as though Tsonga is playing freely after feeling like he could have easily have lost in straight sets to Federer and after defeating Federer filled with confidence and the notion that this year he could achieve his destiny.

Djokovic, Murray and Tsonga have never made it to the Wimbledon final before and as a group have a combined 2 Grand Slam titles (both by Djokovic  in the 2008 and 2011 Australian Open), and 6 runner-up performances in Slam finals. Murray has made 3 Grand Slam finals (2008 US Open, 2010 and 2011 Australian Open), Djokovic 2 (runner-up at the US Open in 2007 and 2010) and Tsonga 1 (against Djokovic in 2008).

Luckily for this trio, every tennis match starts afresh, meaning past results do not determine who will produce the better tennis today. One of the great things about tennis is YOU ALWAYS have to PROVE that you can PERFORM and approach mastery over each of the critical components of winning tennis performance in your next match.

Tennis is all about who can produce thekquality of tennis that is better than their opponent’s game, whilst under pressure, on the critical key points and at the pivotal swing moments in every match on the day. Whoever overcomes the huge mental challenges when it counts, is able to execute their game style, strongest strategies and allow their high quality strokes to show up will emerge victorious.

Another reason that tennis is a great game is because of the scoring system which brings both players back to even at very short intervals i.e. after each and every single game. The scoring system itself  is a HUGE influential factor that ALWAYS sets the stage for change a large number of possible times and situations in every match, where things c!n easily swing one way or the other.

In terms of strokes, the serve and return of serve will be especially critical, as was proven by Tsonga in coming back from 2 sets-to-love down against 6-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the quarter finals, to win in 5 sets with a superior serving display and by being able to return Federer’s serve better than his own serve was returned. Tsonga heads in with a 5 wins to 2 losses record against Djokovic, including winning their most recent match at the 2010 Australian Open, which is obviously where Djokovic is the strongest of all.

What I LOVE to see when I watch a match is what transpires in all of these swinging moments, what players do in these situations, how they act and respond, what level of mental skill over the ever-present mental challenges do they maintain and what performance level can they achieve under this pressure throughout the match.

Given these scenarios, possibilities and critical swing factors then you really have a set of semi finals where ANYTHING could happen. I hope you now have a new perspective on today’s matches, some ideas and questions about what I have raised to go over in your mind and more importantly an increased motivation to watch this match today. If so, then I am happy that you have and will share my passion for tennis today. Now all I have to say is, I cannot wait to see which players can BRING IT for the 2011 Wimbledon semi finals!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Yagan Kiely

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hi editor,

    I enjoyed reading your article. Its really sets the stage and describes perfectly what is at stake for all the players, especially Novak and Rafa. I learned about this fight for the no.1 spot and how this could affect both matches. If I could criticise I would have liked a little more on the tactical/technical sides to both semis. What for instance does Murray have to do to beat the seemingly onform and unbeatable Nadal. I like both players but have to back Murray (due to my Scottish birthright and the fact I have a fiver bet on him at 11/2 to lift the title) I am also very passionate about tennis and am brimming over in excitement in the prospect of both these matches. I also like a flutter so what do YOU think. Jo Wilfred must be good value at 7/4. Felt sad about Federer…I was almost in tears but I believe Tsonga is a worthy replacement and should provide just as an exciting and semi-final full of quality tennis. As you have said these games will be won by those dealers who can pull it out the bag at key moments.

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