By John Delong
The 48-player field is down to four, and what an intriguing group of semifinalists they are.
Alexandr Dolgopolov and Gael Monfils will meet in the afternoon feature on Center Court in a matchup of two of the ATP World Tour’s most charismatic and entertaining players, and then American fan favorite Sam Querrey will take on veteran lefty Jurgen Melzer in the evening feature.
The four have combined for 17 ATP World Tour titles among them, with Querrey leading the way with seven.
"Both are good matches," Querrey said. "You’ve got four guys with different styles. It’s great for the crowd, great for the tournament. Selfishly I think the tournament’s got four great players, four different styles, and two great matchups."
The afternoon showdown between the No. 10 seed Dolgopolov and the No. 15 seed Monfils should be a fascinating matchup because both play with such passion and flair.
Dolgopolov, ranked No. 38 in the latest ATP World Tour rankings, beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the second round, No. 8 seed Juan Monaco in the third, and Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Monfils, ranked No. 43 after being shelved the last four weeks with ankle and biceps injuries, beat Guido Pella in his second-round match, No. 4 seed Tommy Robredo in the third round, and then rallied for a 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over No. 7 seed Fernando Verdasco on Thursday.
The two have met just once before, in the first round at this year’s Australian Open, with Monfils winning 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3.
"It’s going to be a tough match," Monfils said. "I played him at the Australian and he’s always tough to play against because he’s so tricky, so many shots he can do. So I expect a big match and a fun match. Definitely, I think it will be fun."
Querrey, the No. 6 seed and the highest-ranked player in the semifinals at No. 29, advanced to the semifinals by beating Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Earlier he beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round and fought off five match points to beat Jarkko Nieminen in the third.
Melzer, the No. 9 seed who came to the WSO ranked No. 32, beat Thiemo De Bakker in the second round, No. 5 seed Benoit Paire in the third, and No. 13 seed Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Querrey and Melzer have met twice before, on consecutive weeks last year. Querrey won in Toronto 6-3, 6-2, then prevailed again in Cincinnati 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
"I feel I’ve gotten a little better every match and I’m hoping (Friday) can be even better," Querrey said. "Jurgen’s playing well, though. I watched him play today and I thought he played great, so I’m going to have to play really well to beat him."