Jul 4 2012 By Colin Mackenzie
Scotland against Spain would be a no contest in football - but today Dunblane's finest Andy Murray takes on the pride of Javea David Ferrer with the former favourite to progress to Wimbledon's semi finals and a probable meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
But before we get too confident it should be noted that Ferrer, at 5ft 9ins one of the pygmies of the men's game, is playing like a giant. He is in the richest vein of form of his 27-year-old life and only four weeks ago put Murray out of the French championships in the quarter finals.
Yesterday Ferrer totally dominated the power house that is Juan Martin del Potro, winning in straight sets by 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in a mere two hours. Clearly the Centre Court's roof suits the man who once gave up tennis to become a builder until realising (at 17) that tennis represented a more lucrative and less hard working environment.
Ferrer is the last person you want to meet on a tennis court unless you are in supreme form. He is dogged, determined, runs for ever and is never knowingly beaten. His nickname in the players' locker room is the Wall and it is not hard to see why. After yesterday's victory he said, "The condition (under the roof) is different because the ball is good. I like playing on the indoor court because there is no wind. The ball doesn't move and it's more comfortable for us. He (Murray) is the favourite because he is better than me. I will have to play my best tennis to beat him.
"I'm lucky because I do not have too many injuries, important ones anyway. My return is my best weapon because on grass I don't have real power with my serve. I am returning well."
It is in Murray's favour that his own serve was at full throttle against Marin Cilic yesterday. Whenever he found himself at risk he produced a 130mph humdinger to keep his 6ft 6ins Croat opponent guessing - notching up 16 aces in total. His victory by 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 was total and represented the best he has played so far in these championships. Can he play like this back to back?
Murray said; "I'm not feeling the sensations you get when you're close to winning a major right now because I am playing the World No 5 player and I lost to him just a few weeks ago at the French Open. It' just too far to think about it now - I've thought about it in the past but during this tournament it's not something on my mind.
"I don't think I should get prefential treatment (always playing on Centre Court). I don't deserve to play all my matches on Centre. Just because I am from this country I don't think I should get special treatment. But I hope I get to play my next few matches on Centre."
His wish is granted today and he is second on court after Roger Federer faces the relatively simple task of beating Russia's Mikhail Youzhny. Unless Federer's back spasms re-occur the six times Wimbledon champion should be able to sail past an opponent who has never previously scaled these heights.
Court One will be a home from home for Germany, whose players are having a wonderful tournament, but on this occasion there may be disappointment in the shoot-out. Tsonga is clear favourite to beat Philip Kohlschreiber who is in his first ever Grand Slam quarter final. The latter put out Rafael Nadal's nemesis Lukas Rosol. Earlier Florian Mayer faces an impossible task against No 1 seed Novak Djokovic, even though he promised to "irritate" last year's champion to defeat.
However the Germans do have one semi finalist in Angelique Kerber who beat fellow countrywoman Sabine Lisicki in a match in which neither seemed willing to win. After constant see-sawing Lisicki seemed finally to have mastered her opponent and served for victory at 5-3 up in the final set. But either her nerve deserted her or she fell into her bad habits of recklessness displayed in the first set and she capitulated quickly, losing the last four games.
In contrast Serena Williams, a little overweight and apparently not at her fittest, is improving all the time as she demonstrated with a clinical defeat of last year's champion Petra Kvitova who had a set point at 5-4 up in the second set. However Williams used her greatest asset (her serve) to get herself out of trouble and into the semi finals with a smooth 6-3, 7-5 victory. She faces "screamer" Victoria Azarenka who dismissed Tamira Paszek 6-3, 7-6.
In the other women's semi final Kerber faces world No three Agnieszka Radwanska who defeated the much improved Russian Maria Kirilenko 7-4, 4-6, 6-4. The Polish 23-year-old lacks the power normally associated with the grass court game and the Azarenka/Williams encounter will surely produce this year's champion.