Oh! Finally I've woken up from my long slumber over this Wimbledon fortnight (yes, not the most thrilling of Slams this year) to arrive at the very first Marquee Matchup in either draw. Maybe this semifinal match will kick start this snoozefest: 5-time defending champion Roger Federer will take on a resurgent Marat Safin for a place in Sunday's final.
Fed made quick work of Mario Ancic, the last man to beat the top seed at Wimby back in 2002, defeating the Croat 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 and even out-acing the big server 15-9. The world no. 1 has been on a tear, not losing a set to any of the pretenders. Marat battled Spain's Feliciano Lopez and himself, of course, losing the first set but rallying for a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory.
The head-to-head for these two ballers is 8-2 in Fed's favor. Their last meeting was in the third round of last year's Wimby when the Swiss pulled out a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) decision. But I'd prefer to reminisce about their classic, epic encounter in the '05 Aussie Open where the Russian giant saved a match point and defeated Fed 9-7 in the fifth set on his way to claiming his second Grand Slam title - oh, what a feeling!
Here's what the Swiss had to say Marat:
I never looked at Marat like No. 89 in the world. I mean, that's ridiculous. You know, he knows that himself. He's finally showing again what he can do. It's just quite surprising he does it here at Wimbledon in some ways, because he used to dislike playing on this surface. So it should be interesting, because last year I wasn't happy to see Safin in my draw. I'm never happy. He probably knows that. Just been disappointed with the way he's been playing lately, but hopefully he's got a second thing going here in his career.Marat had this to say about facing the world no. 1:
You winning four matches and now you're starting to challenge the Federer. I don't think -- I'm playing semifinals, but that doesn't mean that I have a chance there, because the guy has won how many times already here? I mean, five, six times already, and he's on the way to win his seventh title. It's my first semifinal, so levels are a little bit different. To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place. But, yes, why not? It's another chance for me. But I think it's just a little bit too difficult it would be for me to beat him.Outlook: Okay, so Marat is clearly playing his chances way down to beat Fed but I'm not sure he quite believes that himself. The Russian is a huge ball striker and has found his footing on the grass courts this year. More importantly, he has the experience of defeating Fed on the big stage with a lot on the line so it would be foolish to discount him.
But this is Fed's court and he's the king of The All England Club. His superior movement, forays to the net and his ability to improvise shots when the bounce is off kilter will be keys to winning this match. Though I like the Russian's chances to take a set off the top seed, I don't think we'll be seeing an upset this time around. I'll take Fed in four.
(images via Getty)