by Chris, the Impaler - 06/30/2005
It has been more than thirty years since the heady days of Australia's dominance on Church Road by southpaw Rod Laver (four-time champ) and John Newcombe (last amateur to win at Wimbledon). Since 1972, however, only two other Australians have won the singles title; Pat Cash in 1987 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
Guess who is back in the gentlemen's semi-finals?
The foul tempered Australian howitzer named Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt will attempt to restore Australia's role in carving out Wimbledon's rich history as he hopes to prevent No. 1 seed Roger Federer from appearing in his third consecutive Wimbledon final. In the day's other gentlemen's semi-final match No. 2 seed Andy Roddick will face No. 12 seed Thomas Johansson for a spot, and a likely rematch of last year's finale, on Centre Court this Sunday morning.
Roger Federer looks to join the elite company of four players to have won Wimbledon singles titles three consecutive times (in the Open Era since 1968); Navratilova (6 times from 1982-1987, Bjorn Borg (5 times from 1976-1980), Sampras (twice he has done so from 1993-1995 and 1997-2000) and Graf (1991-1993).
If you listen to the experts, Roger Federer is not only the best player in the world, but also, perhaps, the best player that has ever played tennis. Indeed, many who follow tennis believe that one day, Federer will eclipse Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slams. Coincidently, like the great Sampras, Federer has yet to win a French Open title. But that is probably only a formality.
Sports shop Bodog has listed the American Andy Roddick, the No. 2 seed, as a -600 favorite against the Swede Thomas Johansson, the No. 12 seed, and Switzerland's Roger Federer (defending Wimbledon champion) is listed as a -800 "chalk" over the 2002 Wimbledon champion, Australian Lleyton Hewitt.
In tennis wagering, though, you have a choice of betting the money line or improving your odds by betting on the amount of sets your player will win. But in this year's semi-finals you won't find your odds much better if you take Roddick in straight sets; you'll only get 3/2 odds if you bet the American, while backing the best tennis player in the world in straight sets you'd get 2/3 odds.
Looking closer at tomorrow's semi-finals, it is likely that there will be a rematch of last year's final between Roddick and Federer. But for fun let's look anyway.
Wimbledon Gentlemen's Semi FinalsRoger Federer (SUI), No.1 v. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS), No. 3
Simply put, until it is proven otherwise, Roger Federer is the man to beat this year. Barring a catastrophic upset, Federer should dispatch the hot-tempered Australian if we are to believe the history between these two opponents.
Hewitt has lost seven consecutive matches (including last year's Wimbledon semi-final Wimbledon, grass-outdoor, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-0, 6-4) of their 17 career matches since 2004 to Federer. But, since winning the Gentlemen's single title in 2002, Lleyton Hewitt has lost in the first round, and quarterfinals respectively.
Hewitt is a powerful baseliner with speed, agility and a temper that rivals Marat Safin, Boris Becker and John McEnroe. However, the grass courts at Wimbledon favor the serve and volley player like Federer, rather than the power game that befits a baseliner like Hewitt.
Federer, on the other hand, sports an astounding 96-5 singles record since June 2004 and he is trying to become the fourth player since 1936 to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles. After Davis Cup play in 2003, Federer has been a tennis machine winning on almost every surface imaginable. But on grass, his best surface, he has been unbeatable.
Federer beat the young gun Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) in his quarterfinal match. He was tested at points by the baseliner, but ultimately his speed and shot selection were too much for the 24-year-old Chilean, who was the only male player in the tournament that had not lost a set.
No doubt Hewitt is pumped to beat his old nemesis, but it will take a lot more than screaming "come on" to himself on Centre Court and yelling at the linesmen when they make questionable calls.
Hewitt should be able to win a set at some point in the match; however, Federer should play well enough to make it eight straight victories. While we don't want to lay the -800 chalk we like Federer in 4 sets at 6/1 odds.
Advantage: Federer 4 sets (6/1)
Andy Roddick (USA), No. 2 v. Thomas Johansson (SWE) No. 12
On the other side of the bracket, we have power servers and deep baseliners on both sides of the ball as American Andy Roddick tries fight his way back to a Centre Court final against the resurgent Swede Thomas Johansson.
Looking at the draw at beginning of the fortnight, and given his historic injuries, it did not look like the 30-year-old Swede would make the semi-finals. Johansson is the first Swede since Stefan Edberg in 1993 to make the semifinals.
Johansson is playing in his ninth Wimbledon and the best he has ever done in make it to the fourth round in 1996 and 2000. In 2003, it looked as if Johansson's tennis career was over due to a severe knee injury.
The 2002 Australian Open champ was sidelined for all of 2003 due knee surgery and he was told he'd probably never be able to compete at a professional level again.
These opponents have met twice in their careers and Andy Roddick has never lost to Johansson. They met in the round of 64 at Wimbledon in 2001 and Roddick won in four sets, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (3) against a healthy Johansson. Their only other match was on the hard courts of Bangkok last year in the quarterfinal match. Roddick won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Granted that hard court is more suited to Roddick's style of tennis, but Roddick seems to have overcome his disappointing early round loss on the red clay of Rolland Garros this year and made it through a tough Wimbledon draw; including his well fought, five-set quarterfinal match against his good friend and practice partner, Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean.
The main difference in Roddick's play this year over last year, was the maturity he showed in that fifth set. He did not get mental by letting the little things get to him. In fact, he opened up his play, and played a dominating fifth set.
Unfortunately for Johansson, he does not have the comfort and familiarity with Roddick that Grosjean enjoyed in the quarterfinals. Roddick is simply too focused to let the resurgent Swede take a set from him, let alone beat him and his ferocious serve.
Unless he gets Punk'd again by Ashton Kutcher, it is hard to see how the American loses a set to the Swede, but in the past Roddick has mentioned how much he hates traveling and how it has un-nerved him in the past. But if anything will un-nerve Roddick it will be the familiar face of Roger Federer at breakfast at Wimbledon on Sunday
Advantage: Roddick 3 sets (2/3)
Note: In the ladies semi-final match Venus Williams (+200 money line win for us at Doc's Sports) picked apart Maria Sharapova in straight sets, 7-6, 6-1 in part two of revenge of the Williams sisters. The outcome of the Davenport - Mauresmo match has been suspended until tomorrow due to rain and darkness. Davenport was up a break in the third set 5-3 with Mauresmo serving 15-0 in the ninth game. Davenport equalized Mauresmo's first set (7-6) by winning the second 6-7.