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Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates defeating Japan's Kei Nishikori during a men's quarterfinal match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates defeating Japan's Kei Nishikori during a men's quarterfinal match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)|Associated Press
Tennis

Wimbledon: Abrams picks Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic vs. Roberto Bautista Agut in the men's semifinals

Matches start at 8 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

The Championships

Wimbledon

Friday, July 12, 2019

Men’s Semifinals

Novak Djokovic over Roberto Bautista Agut

RBA is no pushover. For all those tennis fans, both casual and professional, who think that Nole is just going to walk onto Center Court, hit a few shots, and shake hands with an opportunity to win yet another Grand Slam title, they will all be surprised. Bautista Agut is an elite, masterful player at the top of his game and playing for more than money and a first Grand Slam title. RBA is playing to show the world that he belongs with the truly elite players in the game, and I for one believe that he does. Not only that, I believe that he has a real chance to win this match. The Joker hasn’t been challenged here in London yet, and might just be a tad soft. An ineffective player he is not, but he hasn’t been hardened by a serious challenge, and a champion usually has to weather a storm or two to strengthen his resolve. Although I believe that RBA can pull off the upset, I don’t think he will. Djokovic is ranked #1 in the world, and is the holder of all the Grand Slam titles except for the French, and champions just don’t relinquish their crowns easily. Although Djokovic has been less that terrific in every tournament in between the Slams, he is still the King, and it’s hard to slay the King. My guess is that this will be a very close match, seriously contested, but that at the end, the King will remain standing.

Roger Federer over Rafa Nadal

There is either not much to say about this match, or we could talk about it for hours until it begins, and then just sit back and watch the fireworks. We all know that Rafa holds a nice advantage in their lifetime head-to-head rivalry, that Roger holds more Grand Slam titles, that Rafa has a winning record over Federer in Slam matches, that Federer has won more matches and tournaments, that Rafa is gunning for his second straight Grand Slam title, that Federer is shooting for his record 21st Slam title….should I go on? I don’t think so. These two warriors haven’t played against each other in The Championships for eleven years, and all that background noise will be forgotten once the first ball is struck. This match will probably be filled with great shots, terrific rallies, excellent defense, door-slamming offense, guile, resolve, stamina, nerves, and ultimately, simple excellence. The situation and rivalry reminds me of when the Big Three were Borg, McEnroe, and Connors, when one of them got the advantage of not having to play either of the other two until the finals, while the other two had to duel it out to the death in the semis, and then come back for another war to win the title. It appears that most pundits are picking Nadal to win this match because of the level of his play the past two weeks on the grass. I actually have loved Federer’s form in London, in front of the Royals and the world’s tennis establishment. I think Fed is playing great tennis, and after a stirring battle, will prevail over Nadal and move on to see if he can collect his record-setting ninth Wimbledon title. Mark my words. When the tournament is over the Brits will be chanting, “The King is dead. Long live the King.”

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