Wimbledon men's semifinals could drive crowd to emotional crossroads

No. 1 Novak Djokovic will play Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the opening men's semifinal at Wimbledon on Friday, which starts around 5 a.m. PDT, and many here will consider it the perfect warmup act.

That's because the Djokovic-Gasquet match should move quickly, provide good shot making, and allow them to get on with the show, with the next pair on court a matchup to drive the British crowd to emotional crossroads.

In that match will be Roger Federer, who grew to stardom here. He is as close to getting honorary British citizenship as anybody ever from Switzerland. He has won major tournaments 17 times and this one seven. One more title here will set a record.

But then, there is that Andy Murray fellow on the other side of the net. He is from Scotland, so blood and loyalty, perhaps even the wishes of the queen, dictate that Murray be rooted home. Plus, he is as popular an athlete as there is in the United Kingdom.

If only there were ties in tennis.

Djokovic is playing well, is the defending champion and is coached by a man who knows what to tell him as he goes into these final crucial matches. Boris Becker won three Wimbledon titles, his first 30 years ago. Djokovic has won twice here.

Djokovic beat Federer in last year's final and is almost even with him in their career head-to-heads. Were they both to reach the final, a Djokovic victory would make them 20-20.

Gasquet, who is seeded 21st, has only beaten Djokovic once in 12 matches and that was in 2007. Gasquet ruined Djokovic's chance for revenge after his French Open final loss to Stan Wawrinka when the Frenchman beat Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.

Federer and Murray have quite a history, making Friday's second semifinal a dramatic pick-'em. Federer is seeded second, Murray third. Federer leads in their head-to-head series, 12-11.

In 2012, Federer beat Murray in the Wimbledon final — his most recent Grand Slam title. But in the London Olympics that year, Murray beat Federer in the gold medal match. To get to that final, Murray defeated Djokovic in the semifinals.

Murray had been previously included in the list of the men's game's Big Four, and he really confirmed his spot after that, winning the U.S. Open in 2012 and becoming the first British man to win the Wimbledon title in 77 years in 2013.

Federer has never lost a semifinal at Wimbledon. Djokovic's victory over Federer in last year's final was a five-set thriller.


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