The millions of Roger Federer fans around the world will not be the only ones happy at the prospect of their hero playing in his 42nd Grand Slam semi-final here on Friday.
The three other semi-finalists – Tomas Berdych, who will face Federer, Sam Querrey and Marin Cilic – are all excellent players, but it will be left to the seven-times champion to provide a respite from the relentless big-hitting that has become such a feature of the modern game.
Isner nearly pulled off the Rafa upset last year, and is the only guy to take him to 5 sets here.
“Maybe that can have a small part in the match, but I don't think it's going to matter big-time,” Cilic said. He admitted there had been times when he doubted he would ever make it this far.
“I think Sam has played really well this year and even last year over here at Wimbledon too. “Last year definitely gave me a new boost that I could do it, but there have been times in my career where I definitely thought, if I had to bet, am I going to make a semi, I probably would have gone no,” he said.
In fact, he may pose the greatest matchup problem for Rafa, who could not have been that thrilled to see Ferrer and Isner in his half, and Milos Raonic in his quarter.
As a betting man, we are baffled that Raonic and Isner are given such little weight above.
The grass-court season was difficult because of the back issues I had and the knee issues. “Then in the matches, I could never really play quite so freely last year just because I was more focused on how the knee was behaving rather than how I needed to hit my forehand or backhand, or what's not going to be good for my opponent. I believe being really mentally focused every single match these last couple of months has helped me to get to the point where I'm little bit stronger mentally.
“This year I'm just a normal tennis player again where I can focus on tactics. I believe that can make a huge difference.” Cilic hopes that his experience will be an advantage against Querrey, who has knocked out the world No 1 and defending champion in his last two visits here with his victories over Djokovic and Murray but will be playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final. Hopefully I can keep it going and go one round further.” The American will be playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final at the 42nd attempt, which is a record in the Open era.
He's got a big game that potentially that can hurt anyone in the game.” Wimbledon is Querrey’s favourite tournament. “Now that I made the quarters last year and the semis here, I'm feeling confident.
I think I can go even a little further.” He added: “Before last year, having never made the quarters of a Slam was kind of a bummer.
Men’s tennis has enjoyed a golden era thanks to the brilliance of the so-called Big Four, who have provided a rich mix of game styles and skills: Federer with his elegance and aggression, Rafael Nadal with his iron will and durability, Novak Djokovic with his all-round brilliance and Andy Murray with his counter-attacking and athleticism.
As all four head towards the twilight of their careers, however, there is a danger that the next generation of champions will not have the same widespread appeal because they are dominated by big hitters who do not have the same variety in their games.
I felt like I was a good enough player to have that piece checked off.