Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The elite eight

It's down to the quarterfinals at the All-England Club, and while many of the pre-tournament contenders (Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian, etc.) got knocked out way early, there will still be some great matches on tap.

Personally, four out of eight of my original quarterfinal picks are still alive, which is about all you can hope for with the way this tournament has gone! Here's a preview of what I think will happen tomorrow, match by match:

• Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray: As far as all of Britain goes, no other match needs to be played. After that win against Richard Gasquet, I'm sure the fans there are starting to believe. Murray's using the crowd to his advantage and playing at an unbelievably high level. Playing at an even higher level is his opponent, Nadal, who's only won 37 of his last 40 matches. Murray has more versatility, but Nadal's a beast—and I mean that in a good way! Murray should be able to beat Nadal on grass, but not today. Nadal in four.

• Marat Safin vs. Feliciano Lopez: Everyone's favorite comeback kid has done some amazing things this tournament: There's even been some speculation that Marat Safin can come out of nowhere and win this thing. F-Lo has been serving and volleying like he never has before. Still, we're talking about Safin! I'm going with him in five.

• Roger Federer vs. Mario Ancic: Federer's had a pretty easy go of it, despite facing some tough customers, such as Lleyton Hewitt and Robin Soderling. While he doesn't have the credentials of Hewitt on the turf, I think at the moment, Super Mario is definitely a better grasser. Ancic is the last guy to beat R-Fed here, but things have obviously changed since that match in '02. Ancic has shown a ton of heart getting this far, but I think the run ends here. Rog in four.

• Rainer Schuettler vs. Arnaud Clement: These two are basically mirror images of each other, game- and career-wise. This match is a total toss-up; the former Australian finalists have had great tournaments, and too bad it has to end for one of them. I'm going with Clement just because he seems a little more of a natural grasser than Schuettler, but I'm expecting it to be a battle, with the Frenchman coming out in five.

There's my picks and I'm sticking to 'em! Enjoy the tennis!

(Photo: Getty Images)