Cyprus Mail

Stage set for gripping ties in Wimbledon men’s quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic seems to be back to his best

Wimbledon’s leading men have survived to reach the men’s quarter-finals, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all in action on Wednesday.

Here is a look at key talking points ahead of the last-eight clashes.

Champagne super Novak
Rave reviews followed Novak Djokovic’s fourth-round performance against Karen Khachanov, with the sense the Serbian is back to the form that has brought him 12 grand slam titles. Djokovic has wrestled with problems including an elbow injury that abruptly curtailed his 2017 season after Wimbledon, but his statistics this tournament point to a player making rapid strides towards the top again. Maybe similar applies to his quarter-final opponent Kei Nishikori, a former world number four who has toppled Nick Kyrgios and Ernests Gulbis over the last two rounds. Djokovic starts as a firm favourite having won 13 of their previous 15 matches, and will look to push his claims for a fourth Wimbledon title.

Can Kevin Anderson dethrone the king?
Roger Federer dismissed his first-week opponents in clinical fashion, and then sprinted through the opening set against fourth-round rival Adrian Mannarino in a staggering 16 minutes on Monday. It became more of a contest after that against Mannarino, however, with Federer made to graft for the win. He has still yet to drop serve and remains a wonderful returner, a skill which will be put to the test against the powerful deliveries of South African Kevin Anderson. Anderson has lost his serve only six times and could well take Federer into one or more tie-breaks, but expect the Swiss to find a way through his latest test.

Wimbledon’s ace-race leaders go head to head
The clash of John Isner and Milos Raonic may not be one for tennis aesthetes, given booming serves are bound to dominate. Both men have banged down more than 100 aces so far in this Wimbledon, and are the only players to have reached three figures, so expect the 6ft 10in Isner and 6ft 5in Raonic to play to their obvious strengths. Raonic has the more complete all-round game, and recent experience of a Wimbledon run after reaching the 2016 final, but if it comes down to a battle of wits in tie-breaks then this become anyone’s match.

First big test for Nadal
Rafael Nadal believes he is playing his best tennis at Wimbledon for a long time, after ending a seven-year wait to get back to this stage of the tournament. He has looked terrific so far but has yet to play an opponent ranked inside the world’s top 75, so the early wins need to be assessed in that context. Juan Martin del Potro presents a major step up in class, and the Argentinian world number four could push the Spaniard all the way.

Centre Court
12-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v 24-Kei Nishikori (Japan)
5-Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) v 2-Rafael Nadal (Spain)

Court One
1-Roger Federer (Switzerland) v 8-Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
13-Milos Raonic (Canada) v 9-John Isner (U.S.)

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