Wimbledon Quarter Finals Form by Scott Ferguson
Quarter Finals update
Wimbledon 2010 has been remarkable so far. Knowing it needed to pull out something special to claim headline space against the World Cup, we have been served Federer (2.5*) almost losing when 1.01 pre-match favourite, the longest match of all-time as John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set in a match lasting three days, an injury scare for Rafa Nadal (4.5), a Clijsters v Henin matchup, both women's French Open finalists bombing out in R1 and there is yet to be a drop of rain, a miracle in itself at SW19.
Magic Monday saw a few surprises, with Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki and Marion Bartoli falling to lesser-ranked players, while Lleyton Hewitt couldn't justify strong betting support, bowing out to Novak Djokovic (13.5) in four sets.
The women's draw does still look like an all-Williams final. Serena (1.87) stepped up a gear against Sharapova in R4 while Venus (4.0) wasn't quite as clinical against Groth, but her first week was very impressive. Serena faces Li Na (34) of China in the quarter-final, an opponent she holds a 4-1 record over, though they have all been close matches. Li is in career best form and has the ability to push Serena again.
Fighting for the right to play Serena or Li, will be two surprise quarter-finalists in Petra Kvitova (28) and Kaia Kanepi (60). Both are in the form of their lives, and their three previous clashes have gone down to the wire. Kvitova has blown Azarenka and Wozniacki off the court in her last two rounds, in a run of four wins over current or ex-top 25 opponents.
The query with a player like her though is that if she was that good and could do this regularly, she would be in the top 10. Most players further down the rankings on any given day can match the best players, but holding that form is much harder. Kanepi is ex-top 20 herself and on a run of seven wins having come through qualifying, including Sam Stosur in R1. There's not much between this pair and value could be with the Estonian.
Kim Clijsters (6.6) passed her acid test on Monday with a three-set win over arch-rival Justine Henin. Her next opponent is Vera Zvonareva (60), a player she has a 5-0 record over, but they haven't met since 2006. The Russian's best results at Grand Slams have come since then, and she flogged Azarenka and had Jankovic on the ropes before she retired. I'll be taking some of the 4.8 available here as it's the best chance of an upset in the women's draw today.
Venus Williams was beaten by Tsvetana Pironkova (190) the last time they mate, at the Australian Open back in 2006. I don't give that much credit though as the Venus that turns up to Wimbledon in June is markedly different to the one playing in Melbourne in January. Pironkova is yet to drop a set so far, but it is a huge step up to face a five-time champion. Venus had to fight a bit to get through R4, but few women serve as big as Jarka Groth.
Serena is now odds-on for the title, by virtue of the easier draw. Venus must defeat Clijsters (record 6-6) or Zvonareva (9-1) in the semi-final to reach Saturday's final.
The men will return to the court on Wednesday for their round of eight, with some tantalising clashes on the menu. Roger Federer recovered from his early wobbles with a flawless win over Melzer on Monday, just in time to face Tomas Berdych (34), a player who beat him the last time they met in Miami this year.
It could be said that the Czech is better on hardcourts than grass, but with the recent warm British weather, this is as dry as you will ever see a grasscourt, meaning higher bounces. Based on Monday's results, you have to go with Federer to extend his 8-2 record, however if you rewound to early last week, you would have to give Berdych a real shot at the upset.
Novak Djokovic is another who started the tournament poorly but is hitting his straps at the right time. Apart from concern over a stomach bug, his performance against Lleyton Hewitt was rock solid and he should pack too many guns for Yen-Hsun Lu (160) who shocked Andy Roddick on Monday. Djokovic is a far better returner of serve than Roddick and the pride of Taipei won't be allowed to play five sets and only drop serve once again.
The bottom half of the draw offers two matches which wouldn't disappoint you much if they were the actual final. Andy Murray faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (42) with the slate tied at two wins apiece. I potted Murray's form coming into this event but he has made a mockery of that, being the only player left not to drop a set in four rounds.
Tsonga scraped past Dolgopolov in R2 (believe me, he won't be the last big name to be troubled by him, the kid is going places) and looked to be floundering a little, but since then has been far more clinical against Kamke and Benneteau. Tsonga has the ability to hit anyone off the court when 'in the zone' but Murray (6.0) is the best returner in the game. Have to lean to Murray, but the gap in odds is far too big.
Nadal's chronic knee injury was in the news on the weekend but didn't appear to bother him against Mathieu on Monday, he played without any strapping at all and moved freely. His outright price has fluctuated as a consequence. Robin Soderling (10.5) beat Nadal on clay and hardcourt last year, and back in 2007, lost 7-5 in the fifth to the Spaniard. He struggled against Ferrer in R4, but expect much better against Nadal. The Swede is a definite chance and this will be a great match for trading.
In the outright betting, expect plenty of movement. There are two camps of opinion - that Federer and Nadal will maintain their reign, or that others will spoil the party. I'm a believer in the latter but Monday's displays by the men who have the last seven titles between them creates a few doubts.
* All odds taken at 11am 29/06/2010