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Milos Raonic ($2.40) vs. Roger Federer ($1.58)
Tomas Berdych ($6.70) vs. Andy Murray ($1.11)
Roger Federer to beat Milos Raonic ($1.58)
Andy Murray to beat Tomas Berdych ($1.11)
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THE tennis world’s eyes will be firmly fixed on the All England Club on Friday night as Roger Federer and Andy Murray look to book their places in the 2016 Wimbledon final.
With world number one Novak Djokovic out of the picture after he was bundled out by Sam Querrey in round three, neither Murray nor Federer will get a better chance to claim the Wimbledon title.
But they each still have a box to tick before they book their dream match-up, and neither has an easy task.
Federer must fend off young Canadian challenger Milos Raonic, whose power game is set to give him all that he can handle.
Murray will also have to deal in a big server in Czech Tomas Berdych.
Both men will have to summon all they have if they are to advance.
There is some poetry about Federer’s run to the Wimbledon semi finals.
He has not won the title at the All England Club since 2012, which was the last time he won a grand slam final.
A win over Raonic would give him a chance at a remarkable eighth Wimbledon crown – his most successful slam and his most loved.
Success this year would take him past Pete Sampras and give him the record for most Wimbledon titles.
Federer has won nine of the 11 clashes these two have fought out, claiming the first six before Raonic broke through in 2014.
Raonic won the last bout between the two men, 6-4 6-4, in the Australian Open warm-up in Brisbane on the hard court.
It will give him some confidence going into this one – as much confidence as you can have against arguably the best tennis player of all time.
Federer had a breezy run through the opening four rounds, running through each of his opponents in straight sets, before adding yet another chapter to his remarkable story in the quarter final against Marin Cilic.
Federer looked absolutely cooked at two sets to love down against the Croatian, but you can never write off the champ and he mounted a come back for the ages.
He was like a different player after the second set, crunching Cilic in the third, fighting doggedly to take a 20-game tiebreak in the fourth and then cruising through in the last to take out an incredible five-set win.
It was one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments when he unbelievably saved three match points in the fourth set, simply refusing to lose.
When you win matches like that, the only place to go is the final.
“I fought, I tried, I believed,” Federer said after his incredible victory.
“I remember just being in trouble the whole time.
“At one point, you’re used to it.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, my God, all of a sudden there’s a match point, all of a sudden there’s a break point to save.’
“It just was continuous, I don’t know, for an hour or two, whatever that was.
Raonic, who lost to Federer in the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals, said it was “exciting” and “humbling” to have reached the last four.
“I have to go out there and give it all I’ve got and I hope for a better result than last time,” Raonic said.
“I’m happy that I have another shot at him.
“I prefer to be here than booking a jet.
“I’ll tell you that.”
The world number seven took four sets to banish giant-killing American Querrey, closing it out 6-4 7-5 5-7 6-4 to reach the semi final, after winning a marathon five setter against Belgium’s David Goffin to get there.
There will come a time when Raonic can absolutely blow Federer off the court. The young Canadian has one of the biggest serves in the game and is fast becoming one of its brightest young stars.
That time is not far away, but, right now, we’re giving the credit to the Fed Express. At 34 – and fast closing on 35 – he has the experience and the form to see off a spirited challenge from the 25-year-old, who is just beginning to realise how good he can be.
If he beats Raonic, Federer will be the winningest player in grand slam history with 307 career match wins – one ahead of the great Martina Navratilova.
Murray to make it through
As far as Murray goes, he suffers from coming up in an era dominated by Federer and then Djokovic. He might be the best perennial world number two of all time.
And that means he should be able to deal with everything Berdych throws at him.
The fact Berdych has claimed six wins in 14 matches is a little deceiving. The ninth-ranked man in the world has not beaten Murray since 2013, suffering straight sets defeats in all but one of the ensuing four encounters.
Murray, like Federer, did not drop a set in the tournament until he squared off with big bustling Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Tsonga gave him absolute hell, fighting back from two sets down to square it off in the fourth set, but Murray was too damn good in the last, winning through 7-6 (12-10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1.
Berdych had by far the toughest run through the tournament of the four semi finalists and has his work cut out for him against Murray.
His opener went to four sets with two tiebreakers, his round three clash went to four sets and his round of 16 bout with Jiri Veseley went to five, with two tiebreakers and over four hours on court.
He had it somewhat easier in the semi, with a straight sets win over Lucas Pouille, but he is going to need every bit of rest. He has a superstar awaiting.
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