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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Federer too good for Anderson as Del Potro downs Nadal: Wimbledon quarter-final predictions

The 2018 Wimbledon Championships is reaching its climax as eight players remain in the men’s singles draw, but who will reach the semi-finals?

Roger Federer is on track for the Wimbledon semi-finals. Toby Melville / Reuters
Roger Federer is on track for the Wimbledon semi-finals. Toby Melville / Reuters

Roger Federer v Kevin Anderson

The signs are not great for Anderson. In fact, they are dreadful. The eighth seed heads into this showdown with Federer having lost each of their past four meetings in straight sets. And none of those encounters took place when Federer is at his most daunting: on grass, in a stadium court, at Wimbledon.

Top seed Federer, bidding for a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title, has been in ominous form at the All England Club. The 36-year-old Swiss has yet to be broken on serve, facing just four break points in the past four rounds.

By comparison, Anderson – considered one of the finest servers in the game – has been broken six times.

Federer will have too much class and variety for Anderson. A place in the semi-finals beckons.

Prediction: Federer to win 3-0. After a tight first set, Federer will get a read on the Anderson serve and cruise through the next two.

Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori

Novak Djokovic is gradually rediscovering his best form. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Novak Djokovic is gradually rediscovering his best form. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

An intriguing match-up between two top players yet to fully rediscover their best form following lengthy layoffs. But the signs are encouraging for both 12-time grand slam champion Djokovic and former world No 4 Nishikori.

For 12th seed Djokovic, the early-season struggles - caused by the rushed return from an elbow injury - have made way for a level approaching his trademark game: deep groundstrokes, impenetrable defence, and fine counter-attacking.

Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion, has been largely untroubled so far, save for the first-set loss to Kyle Edmund in the third round, but he faces his biggest test in 24th seed Nishikori.

Japan’s No 1, making his way back from a wrist injury, has been equally impressive at the All England Club and his dismantling of the dangerous but combustible Nick Kyrgios in the third round was arguably the performance of the tournament so far.

The head-to-head is weighted heavily in Djokovic’s favour, 13-2, but the pair have never met at Wimbledon. Nishikori looks to be struggling with an arm injury, which could make the difference.

Prediction: Djokovic to win 3-1. After winning a set each, an injury-affected Nishikori will start to fade as Djokovic grinds him down.

Milos Raonic v John Isner

John Isner possesses one of the best serves in the game. Tony O'Brien / Reuters
John Isner possesses one of the best serves in the game. Tony O'Brien / Reuters

To adapt Benjamin Franklin’s famous phrase, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a Raonic v Isner tennis match featuring tiebreaks.

Over nine sets in four previous meetings, tiebreaks have been required seven times to decide the outcome. It’s hardly surprising when the game’s two most fearsome servers come up against each other.

The 7-6 sets have been a regular feature at Wimbledon, too – both Raonic and Isner winning five en route to the quarter-finals.

Raonic, the 13th seed from Canada, has greater tournament pedigree having reached the 2016 final and the semi-finals in 2014. Isner’s Wimbledon record, meanwhile, is surprisingly mediocre: the American ninth seed had never gone beyond the third round before this year.

But Isner, who won the Miami Masters in April, is in good form and should be slight favourite to reach the semi-finals given Raonic’s stop-start season with a knee injury.

Prediction: Isner to win 3-1. Isner to win the first tie-break, Raonic to win the second tie-break, then Isner to win the third and fourth sets on … that’s right: tiebreaks.

Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro has the tools to beat Rafael Nadal. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
Juan Martin Del Potro has the tools to beat Rafael Nadal. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

The clash of the round sees the world No 1 come up against the world No 4. Nadal is in territory he has been unfamiliar with since 2011 - namely a Wimbledon quarter-final.

The 32-year-old Spaniard has made a seamless transition to grass from another all-conquering clay court swing. Perhaps that extra week of practice has made the difference.

Nadal has swept into the quarter-finals without dropping a set, although he is yet to face a player of significant quality. That is about to change.

Del Potro cruised through to the fourth round before a strangely difficult win over Frenchman Gilles Simon to reach the last eight, but the Argentine is in form and possesses the weapons on grass to trouble any player.

His monster forehand and heavy serve are perfectly suited to Wimbledon, and with his long list of injuries in the past, Del Potro is a serious contender again.

This match will be decided by Del Potro’s serve. If it’s dialed in, the 29-year-old fifth seed should win. If it’s a bit off, Nadal will capitalise and book his place in the semi-finals.

Prediction: Del Potro to win 3-2. Nadal’s serve is too easily broken on grass so he will give up plenty of opportunities. However, his class will ensure it’s a close match, with Del Potro shading it in the fifth.