Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon 2014 Files: I would tell Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic to keep it simple and enjoy the day – that way they won’t be overawed by Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer
The Bulgarian has got to try and make the No 1 seed lose it by just keeping going at him
Thursday 03 July 2014
In one corner are the old timers, one half of the Fab Four. Between them these two guys have walked out to play in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam 56 times. In Melbourne, Paris, New York and right here at Wimbledon, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have pretty much seen it all and done it all. Collectively they have won 23 Slams. Federer has won seven on Centre Court alone and he has never lost a semi-final at Wimbledon.
In the other corner, the green corner let’s call it, are the two young guns, two of the upstarts who want to force a changing of the guard. And what do they have in their locker? What trophies can they put on the table? The table is bare, boy. This is Milos Raonic’s first Slam semi-final. This is Grigor Dimitrov’s first Slam semi-final. But over the last couple of years Wimbledon has been no respecter of reputations, from Andy Murray upsetting Djokovic in last year’s final, Serena Williams going out early in both years, Rafa Nadal too, and even the great Federer crashing and burning last year.
The first thing the youngsters will have to handle is the occasion. Some guys revel in it, some freeze – the crowd overwhelms them, the court across the net shrinks. This is where the team comes in, especially through that long wait of Thursday and Friday morning before they get out on Centre Court. Tennis is so much more of a team sport than you might think and it is up to the coaches, Ivan Ljubicic and Riccardo Piatti for Raonic, Roger Rasheed for Dimitrov, to judge the best way to prepare their players.
My approach, the one I used in particular with Boris Becker – who is doing the same kind of thing now with Djokovic – was to keep it short and sweet. Make it very simple, do not force the outcome. Just let it flow, baby – and enjoy the moment.
When you are mentally efficient you are in sync with yourself. You are not wasting thoughts and emotions. You will also not be intimidated by an opponent, when you look over that net and see Federer or Djokovic standing tall there. You quickly dispel fear, worry and doubt about your play. Nerves are part of life – everybody gets nervous, even Mr Cool as Ice Federer.
OK, so you control the nerves and now you have to find a way to beat a couple of all-timers. It’s difficult to offer one whole lot of encouragement. I can’t see a weakness in Djokovic’s game and, believe me, I have looked. He is just one of the best returners and Dimitrov can expect to be made to cover every blade of grass on Centre Court.
He has not been at his best at this tournament, but look at the way he came through from two sets to one down against Marin Cilic in the quarter-final – he said it himself, it’s all about keeping your composure. Dimitrov has got to try to make him lose it, keep going at Djokovic.
Against Murray he managed to change the direction of play really well, thinking on his feet and seizing control. He moves well and I love his serve, the way he twists his body and really gets his ass into it, it reminds me of Pete Sampras. Kapow! He’s got it all and he will need it all to down Djokovic.
Raonic will require his big weapon to be firing on full blast. There’s a bit of Pistol Pete in his serve as well and he knows he will have to get it right, as he did in hammering down 39 aces against Nick Kyrgios. If Federer gets the serve back, Federer will win.
Raonic knows what he’s up against – he calls Federer a magician and you can’t argue with that. Raonic will try to serve big to take control of the point and control the centre of the court. Federer will look to try to get him away from the centre, he may well try a bit of chip and charge, and look to change the pace of the match.
Raonic has very little margin for error and I think Federer has it in him to get through to another final. The other match has the makings of one hell of a contest. I love the look of Dimitrov, the coming man, but once again I have to go with experience and so it’s a Federer v Djokovic final for me.
Friday’s big game: Federer v Raonic
Roger Federer/Milos Raonic
Swiss Nationality Canadian
32 Age 23
Bottmingen, Switzerland Residence Monte Carlo
6ft 1in Height 6ft 5in
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
4 World ranking 9
79 Career titles 5
$81.6m Prize-money $4.69m
72-8 Wimbledon record 8-3
Winner (7 times) Wimbledon best S-f (2014)
Won 4 Head-to-head Won 0
Bollettieri’s prediction Federer in four
Coaching report: Breaks go to big hitters Bouchard and Kvitova
Two pretty similar semi-finals have set up a good-looking women’s final. Both Petra Kvitova and Eugenie Bouchard had to fight their way through the first sets against Lucie Safarova and Simona Halep and once they had the breakthrough they were able to take advantage and hit their way into Saturday’s big match.
Kvitova gives the ball one hell of a whack and once she got her first serve firing I always fancied her to come through, especially with the experience of having been here before. Safarova just couldn’t sustain the levels of the first set and fell away in the second. She kept the errors down but getting only 53 per cent of first serves in is what cost her. There was not enough else going on in her game to trouble Kvitova, whereas Kvitova’s strong groundstrokes meant she could force the breaks – she had twice as many break points in the match.
Halep was the more experienced in the second semi but you would not have known it from the way Bouchard played out there. Halep was troubled by her ankle, you could see that in some of her footwork, usually such a strength of hers. It also restricted her serve and in a tight match like this that was always going to prove a difficult setback to overcome. Bouchard had the power in her game to take full advantage. Her fastest serve was 110mph and that is going to hurt even a returner as good as Halep.
Like the first match, Halep couldn’t do enough damage to her opponent and couldn’t create the openings – Bouchard had nine break points (actually only managing to take three of them) while Halep could only force a couple. Game over.
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