Baseline Buzz: Djoker, Fed ready


LONDON -- This Wimbledon feels like a game-changer.

Grigor Dimitrov bounced defending champion  Andy Murray in the quarterfinals , while Milos Raonic pounded Nick Kyrgios , an Australian teenager who stunned Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

Thus, Dimitrov and Raonic -- both 23-year-olds and children of the '90s -- find themselves in their first Grand Slam semifinals against No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 4 Roger Federer, respectively.

"I guess that you can't really outrun time in one way," Raonic observed. "New guys got to come up, and they've got to step up. We've been doing better and better, especially throughout this year.

"It's good to be a part of it. It's nice to see that sort of human side to those four guys when you have to step up to face them. Have a belief more so than ever that it's yours for the taking if you play well."

The British oddsmakers aren't feeling this youth movement; Djokovic is the current favorite at 8-11, followed by Federer at 5-2 and Dimitrov and Raonic at 7-1.

Our tennis analysts aren't so sure. FiveThirtyEight's Carl Bialik and's Matt Wilansky and Greg Garber trade Baseline Buzz volleys on the subject of Friday's men's semifinals at the All England Club.

Garber: It isn't exactly 2001 again, but the aces have been flying. Raonic has 147 in five matches, followed by Kyrgios (128). John Isner had 108 in only three matches and Marin Cilic 108 in five. When Federer meets Raonic, how important will those 30-odd aces be for Raonic?

Bialik: They'll be vital, sure, but what impresses me even more about Raonic is what has happened when he's landed a first serve and it hasn't been an ace: He still has won 77 percent of those points. That's much better than Isner and Kyrgios, who were below 70 percent, and Cilic, at 74 percent. So even when Federer gets a racket on a Raonic bomb, he'll be on the defensive. Then again, Federer is no serving slouch, either; he has just 63 aces but has won 78 percent of the time with his non-ace first serves. And he has won a whopping 68 percent of his second-serve points, even better than Raonic's 66 percent. If those numbers make your eyes glaze over, here are just two to focus on: 7 and 6. Expect at least a couple of tiebreaker sets when these two master servers with shaky returns face off. Federer won't mind being aced a lot; he just needs a double fault, a lucky net cord or a shanked volley to win a tiebreaker.

Wilansky: Tiebreakers here have become a central theme. Stan Wawrinka and Feliciano Lopez played the 100th tiebreaker at Wimbledon this season -- the first time in the history of Grand Slam play that's happened. (The record was 97 here four years ago.) And that was two rounds ago. Federer, for what it's worth, has been broken just once so far. But what concerns me, especially if you're a Federer fan, is the poise Raonic has shown. Unlike Dimitrov and even Kyrgios, who have garnered a lot of headlines, Raonic is flying wildly under the radar, which is probably the way he likes it. And this from a guy who had three career Wimbledon match wins heading into this season.

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