Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand and Steen Kirby of Tennis Atlantic preview and pick three of the men’s singles matches on Wednesday at Wimbledon. Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka are among those in quarterfinal action.
(4) Stan Wawrinka vs. (21) Richard Gasquet
Ricky: I went to look up their head-to-head history expecting to find a whole bunch of epic encounters in the ATP World Tour annals. In actuality, there has been just one such thriller. Wawrinka outlasted Gasquet 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in the French Open fourth round two years ago. Aside from that, the two veterans only squared off way back at the 2006 Paris Masters (Gasquet prevailed 7-5, 6-1). This could be another five-set war, because Wawrinka is obviously brimming with confidence as the reigning Roland Garros champion and Gasquet is a proven force at Wimbledon who is coming off impressive defeats of Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios. The one-handed backhands on display will be things of beauty. The Swiss gets a slight edge as a two-time major champion, whereas this is only Gasquet’s third career trip past round four of a slam. Wawrinka 6-7(3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Steen: This will be a great battle of one-handed backhands. Both men are in good form and have dispatched difficult competition to get this far (Fernando Verdasco and an in-form David Goffin for Wawrinka; Dimitrov and Kyrgios for Gasquet). There is no extensive head-to-head history to judge from; but when Wawrinka is clicking like he is now he’s a top-four player, while Gasquet isn’t up to that level–not even on grass. I think the Swiss will have that extra gear and be able to push Gasquet back into overly defensive positions on the court. Wawrinka 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
(12) Gilles Simon vs. (2) Roger Federer
Ricky: Federer cannot be disappointed by Monday’s Simon vs. Tomas Berdych result, as Berdych is the more dangerous opponent (the Czech once beat Federer at Wimbledon, in 2010). That being said, Simon is no fun to play against and he has troubled the Swiss at times in the past. The Frenchman won on back-to-back occasions in 2008 but Federer has since taken five in a row to lead the head-to-head series 5-2. Simon has been in ruthless, refuse-to-miss form since going to a fifth set with Gael Monfils in round three, winning four consecutive sets (all with ease) at the expense of Monfils and Berdych. Getting the best of Federer–on grass, no less–is a much tougher proposition. The 33-year-old has not dropped serve this entire fortnight and has faced only two break points. Federer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Steen: Federer has won their last five meetings after losing the first two, but Simon could actually test him here. The Frenchman has been in some of the best form I’ve seen from him on grass. He’s played tremendously and within himself all fortnight, especially in the demolishing of Berdych. That said, Federer if Federer and he’s been ruthlessly efficient this tournament. The seven-time champion’s controlled aggression should win out, but I’ll give Simon a set. Federer 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Vasek Pospisil vs. (3) Andy Murray
Ricky: Even at 100 percent, this is not a good matchup for Pospisil–especially not at the Scot’s Wimbledon stomping grounds. Murray is 3-0 lifetime in the head-to-head series, 6-0 in total sets, and has not even been pushed to a tiebreaker. Throw in the fact that Pospisil played 10 sets on Monday and the Canadian is really going to be up against it in this one. Meanwhile, Murray has been in stellar form at the All-England Club (and really throughout this entire season). Pospisil will try to keep points short and force the issue at net with more frequency than usual, and that will play right into the hands of an opponent who is an expert in the department of service returns and passing shots. Murray 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2.
Steen: Credit to Pospisil for making it this far, but I give him little chance against Murray–who is one of the best returners on grass. The Canadian has relied on his serve this tournament and his aggressive play has worked out well, but Murray counterpunches effectively and just beat a big server in Ivo Karlovic. Murray’s 3-0 record (all since the start of the 2015 campaign) against Pospisil should also aid his chances. Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.