By Yeshayahu Ginsburg
Because the quarterfinals, by definition, only have 4 matches, I’m going to do this recap a little differently than the earlier ones. I’m going to highlight three players who looked good. The first two will be the ones who exceeded expectations and the second will be the player who looks to be playing at the highest overall level right now. It’s not really fair to say anyone looked bad or underperformed this round. We had 1 epic match, 2 matches where the favorites won as expected, and 1 match where the lower seed just brought his strong form and almost pulled off the upset. Federer is the only one who can be said to have disappointed, but he honestly didn’t play so poorly. He just almost got beaten by a big server who hits massive groundstrokes, something that has been happening for the past few years.
Who Looked Good
1. How can I not give this first spot to Nicolas Almagro? Almagro has often had trouble just winning sets off Ferrer in the past, let alone almost winning a best-of-five match. Almagro showed a high level of play throughout this match that we are really not so used to seeing from him, though maybe we should begin to expect it. Almagro has clearly picked his game up a few levels and we should start looking for him deep in most tournaments. His lack of ability to successfully serve it out—on each of three occasions, no less—tells us that he’s not quite there yet, but you can’t really get used to winning in pressure situations unless you lose in some first.
2. The guy who looks best to win this tournament right now is actually the one that has been mostly flying under the radar. Andy Murray hasn’t really run people over this tournament, but he has been pretty close to being unbeatable. He hasn’t faced players quite as good as Djokovic has, but Murray has been relentless with a slightly more offensive version of his counterpunching tennis. Murray just wins far too many of the points; it’s really that simple. His serve hasn’t been overpowering and his return hasn’t been perfect, but he has just been far too dominant in the rallies for anyone to touch. He doesn’t look invincible, but he definitely has to be the favorite of the final four.
Match of the Round
It feels unfair to deny Ferrer/Almagro this spot. After all, it was the second-best match of the tournament at the time it was played. Unfortunately, Federer/Tsonga a night later was just better. Federer won the first- and third-set tiebreaks by a single minibreak, but it was the sets that Tsonga won that made this match an epic. Tsonga played the only way he possible could against Federer: he hit big on every single shot. No matter where he was on the court or whether it was a forehand or backhand, every single shot of Tsonga’s was absolutely blistered. Federer wasn’t passive either, pulling out winners. It was attacking tennis at its finest, with Tsonga’s power was just too much for Federer when his shots were on. Federer, though, always stayed in touch and managed to hold serve often enough to be able to take advantage when Tsonga slipped up for just a moment. That was how he won the third set and how he won the fifth. Tsonga was dominating the later stages of the match. Federer just found the right moment when Tsonga’s level dropped, broke serve, and concentrated on holding the rest of the way to pull out the epic victory.