Rewind back a decade ago to 2007.
It was the year when Roger was the four time defending champion and he went on to win his fifth Wimbledon, thus equalling Björn Borg’s record five consecutive titles. Meanwhile Venus Williams went through to win her fourth Wimbledon championship.
This week feels like a curious deja vu.
With so many new players breaking through on the women’s tour this year, Venus has mountains more experience than any of the other ladies in the field. Even more experience than the other three semi-finalist all put together. This competition seems her chance to sneak in another trophy. In recent years, though other women have beaten her sister to win championship titles, it hasn’t looked likely that Venus would or could curtail the younger Williams from achieving grand slam success.
If she is to win another championship, this would be her best opportunity. This tournament she has kept the rest of the field at bay with strong serving and monstrous hitting from all over the court. Her opponent, Garbiñe Muguruza, will have to work hard to keep the American on the back foot. A feat not easy when you’re facing a player whose game is built for grass.
Muguruza, a Wimbledon runner up in 2015, quickly became a crowd favourite with fearless hitting, and charm that balanced the right amount of emotion and on-court composure. Venus has won three of their past encounters on hard court. Their most recent meeting at the Rome Masters this year, it was the young Spaniard who convincingly knocked Venus out. This Saturday will either see the grand dame lift her sixth Wimbledon trophy, or the young tennis princess see her name engraved for the first time at the AELTC.
Ages of #Wimbledon semifinalists:
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 12, 2017
Speaking of records, if Roger Federer gets through his grand slam semi-final, he would have reached a record 28th grand slam final. Quite far ahead of Rafael Nadal who has reached 22. It would also be his 11th Wimbledon final. Out of reach of Becker, Gore, and Sampras who each retired after reaching 7 finals.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Roger finds a familiar and formidable semi-finals opponent, Tomas Berdych. An opponent who doesn’t have a great record against Federer but who has had some damaging wins. The last time these two met on the business end of The Championships, the Czech denied the Swiss a chance to get his seventh title at the All England Club. Berdych will attempt to repeat his 2010 quarter-final victory if he wants to take his career up another level and secure his first silverware.
Should Roger get past Berdych in the semis, it’ll be either Sam Querrey or Marin Cilic awaiting him in the finals. Querrey, the likeable American, is laid back but intense. His big smile reminds you of the boy next door you probably fancied in your teens. He specialises in knocking out Wimbledon defending champions, a feat which he has done the last two years in a row.
He and Cilic played the second longest match in Wimbledon history five years ago. At 15-17 in the fifth set, Querrey finally bowed out to Cilic. In the battle of the giants, Cilic’s favourable head to head gives him the edge over Querrey. As well as the swagger that can only be attributed to knowing you’ve previously come up with the goods get over the grand slam champion finish line. But no number 7 seed as ever made it to a Wimbledon final before… will unlucky number 7 be a jinx on Marin Cilic?
17-15 in the fifth. Five hours and 31 minutes.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 14, 2017
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 14, 2017
Who would Roger rather play? Though it is a similar match-up with either player, it has been the Croat who has given him the most trouble in the past. Roger comfortably leads their head to head, but their last few meetings have been tight. Two years ago, Cilic had blasted the Swiss off the court in three sets during the US Open semi-finals. Last year Roger took his revenge in the Wimbledon quarters and fought through to win five gruelling sets.
Roger has alluded that he’ll have to work hard to not get hit off the court. “These other guys are all big hitters. I feel like they will have their word to say of the outcome of the matches.”
Though record books suggest a repeat, for our former champions it’s still far from a done deal.