Both men's semifinals at this year's Wimbledon offer plenty of intrigue, for vastly different reasons. Men's top seed Novak Djokovic will be taking on surprise semifinalist Richard Gasquet, while Roger Federer and Andy Murray will face off to continue an often overlooked rivalry that's been more competitive than most at this level of tennis.
To call Gasquet a surprise semifinalist isn't exactly a disservice to his body of work to this point, it's just that the last time he reached a Wimbledon semifinal was 2007. He's been all over the singles rankings since that point, but has been playing some of his best tennis in this year's tournament.
From the third round on, he's dropped multiple seeded opponents, including No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov, the man who has appropriated his "Baby Federer" nickname in recent years. Gasquet took Dimitrov down in straight sets, then bested No. 26 seed Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round. In the quarterfinals, Gasquet faced his biggest test yet and was a massive underdog to No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka, the man who denied Djokovic his first ever title at Roland Garros earlier in the year.
Gasquet took the first set against Wawrinka, but faded and dropped the following two sets. He battled back to win the fourth and then outright refused to lose in the fifth set, which he eventually took 11-9. That bounced out Wawrinka, and denied everyone a final four comprising the top four seeds.
While the pre-match hype surrounding another Wawrinka vs. Djokovic showdown would have been fun, that shouldn't take anything away from Gasquet's performance to this point and what he has to offer Djokovic.
Then again, what he has had to offer Djokovic in the past hasn't been much, admittedly. Djokovic bested Gasquet in the fourth round at the French Open, in straight sets no less. He also holds a 12-1 overall record against Gasquet, with his only loss coming back in 2007. On top of that, only one of the last nine matches between the two wasn't decided in straight sets.
But while Djokovic certainly looks a bit better than he did at times leading up to the French Open, he has had his struggles. Djokovic needed all five sets to take down No. 14 seed Kevin Anderson in the fourth round. That was a grueling match that ultimately had to be delayed, and Djokovic didn't dominate in that fifth and final set, either. Of course, he rebounded with a dominant performance over No. 9 seed Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.
Few players can match the pace and intensity of Wawrinka, and while Gasquet didn't handle that easily or anything, he dealt with it. If Djokovic comes out and plays at his highest level, few can expect Gasquet to put up a fight, but if the same guy that bested Wawrinka shows up and Djokovic is at anything but his best, Gasquet could find himself playing in the final. A whole lot of things have to go right for him and a whole lot have to go wrong for Djokovic, but this shouldn't be considered a throwaway match by any means.
Whatever the case, their match is set to kick things off on Centre Court at 8 a.m. ET. Players will begin warming up then, and if you want to watch, tune into ESPN or watch a live stream at WatchESPN. The match between Murray and Federer will take place on the same court once Djokovic vs. Gasquet concludes.