2013 Wimbledon Quarterfinal Previews: The Gentlemen

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(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (7) Tomas Berdych
Djokovic leads head-to-head 13-2

What Djokovic needs to do to win:
Play consistent crosscourt combinations early to extend Berdych and use the down-the-line drives to hit behind the 6-foot-5 Czech, who doesn’t change direction as quickly as Djokovic does. Djokovic hits with more spin and can typically create sharper angles on the run than the flatter-hitting Berdych, so look for the top seed to play patient baseline rallies at the outset.

What Berdych needs to do to win:
Take some cracks on return to try to pressure Djokovic’s serve and take some risks on second serve. Berdych has managed just one break in each of his last two Grand Slam losses to Djokovic because the Serb is so skilled at extending points. Berdych needs to try to play shorter points to minimize Djokovic’s ability to produce eye-popping angles on the move.

The Pick: Djokovic in four sets
Berdych won their lone grass-court meeting in the 2010 Wimbledon semifinals, but Djokovic hasn’t lost a set in reaching the quarterfinals and says he’s playing “maybe even better” than when he won Wimbledon in 2011. If Djokovic delivers the high-quality tennis he has played so far, he should advance to his fourth consecutive Wimbledon semifinal.

(4) David Ferrer vs. (8) Juan Martin del Potro
Ferrer leads head-to-head 6-2

What Ferrer needs to do to win:
Ferrer needs to make this match about movement and work del Potro over in running rallies. The 5-foot-9 Spaniard is lower to the ground and quicker around the court than the 6-foot-6 Argentine, who hyperextended his knee in a third-round fall. Ferrer has broken serve a tournament-best 23 times and must continue to put plenty of returns in play.

What del Potro needs to do to win:
Take the first strike in rallies, punish Ferrer’s second serve, maintain the depth of his drives and force Ferrer to hit his favored forehand from the forehand side of the court. Del Potro should mix in some slice backhands to Ferrer’s backhand, as the fourth seed hits his backhand extremely flat and can be vulnerable to errors on that side.

The Pick: Ferrer in five sets
Ferrer’s 6-2 lifetime record against del Potro includes a fourth-round Wimbledon win last year. Del Potro has not surrendered a set in reaching his first quarterfinal at SW19, while Ferrer has been tested in his last two matches. Still, Ferrer is the more consistent player, contesting his seventh straight major quarterfinal, and del Potro’s knee is likely still hurting.

(24) Jerzy Janowicz vs. Lukasz Kubot
First meeting

What Janowicz needs to do to win:
Continue serving with command. The 6-foot-8 Janowicz has slammed a tournament-best 64 aces in the event and has dropped serve just four times in four wins. He must impose his authoritative serve, attack Kubot’s second serve and get off to a fast start to pressure the 31-year-old veteran into playing catch-up against the biggest server still standing in the field.

What Kubot needs to do to win:
Treat his return like a volley and block back Janowicz’s lethal serve. Kubot needs to attack the net relentlessly behind low approach shots to force the big man to bend low for passing shots. He can’t win this match from the baseline—Kubot must put his serve-and-volley skills to good use as he did rushing net 87 times (winning 64 percent of those points) in his five-set fourth-round victory.

The Pick: Janowicz in four sets
The first-ever all-Polish Wimbledon men’s quarterfinal will come down to which man can assert his style of play on the match. Kubot should swing freely as the lowest-ranked man in the last eight, but Janowicz’s wrecking-ball serve is the biggest weapon on the court. If he’s landing it—and doesn’t tighten up—he will make history as the first Polish man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.

(2) Andy Murray vs. Fernando Verdasco
Murray leads head-to-head 8-1

What Murray needs to do to win:
Murray needs to hit his two-handed backhand up the line to his opponent’s weaker backhand wing and use his finesse to drag Verdasco forward at times. Murray also needs to attack the second serve, which can sometimes spin short when the Spaniard is stressed. The Scot plays high-energy tennis when he engages the crowd with positive emotion, so a fast start would help.

What Verdasco needs to do to win:
Dictate rallies with his explosive lefthanded forehand, be prepared to pounce on any mid-court balls and play deep down the middle at times to limit Murray’s access to angles. Verdasco will want to play with aggression and step into the court when Murray is on the defensive. Facing one of the game’s most accurate returners, the Spaniard must serve boldly to set up the first strike.

The Pick: Murray in four sets
Playing his first Wimbledon quarterfinal in his 11th appearance at SW19, Verdasco is a dangerous shotmaker who can play fast and loose knowing the pressure is on the home favorite. Murray, however, has won eight of their nine meetings, is riding a 15-match grass-court winning streak and has not dropped a set in the tournament. He is the clear favorite to reach his fifth straight Wimbledon semifinal.

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