Preview: Men's Wimbledon semi-finals

Sports Mole previews the men's Wimbledon semi-finals that take place at SW19 on Friday.

This year's Wimbledon campaign has thrown up a number of surprises over the past 11 days, but despite the exits of defending champion Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, two of the sport's greats look on course to renew their rivalry in the final.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have only dropped a total of four sets between them on the way to a place in the last four, but despite both players being favourites to progress through to a Sunday showdown on Centre Court, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic have the firepower to make their mark in South London.

Below, Sports Mole takes a look at each semi-final, as well as predicting who will make it through to what is arguably the biggest match in the sport.

1. Novak Djokovic vs. Grigor Dimitrov

Route to the semi-finals

Despite being the number one seed at SW19, Djokovic was faced with the toughest draw of the four semi-finalists, but the Serbian has shown his class in reaching the latter stages of the tournament.

After a routine win over Andrey Golubev, the six-time major winner was pushed hard by Queen's semi-finalist Radek Stepanek before prevailing in four sets, while he had to overcome a shoulder problem to come through in straight sets against Gilles Simon.

The 27-year-old put on a grass-court masterclass in the last 16 in disposing of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, before he was forced to come from behind to get the better of big-serving Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

Dimitrov was given potential banana skins in the form of Ryan Harrison and Luke Saville in his opening two matches, but after coming through in straight sets, he was pushed to the limit by Alexandr Dolgopolov before powering through in the closing stages of their five-set battle.

The 11th seed brushed past Leonardo Mayer in the last 16 to set up a tasty encounter with home favourite Murray, but the Bulgarian stunned the Centre Court crowd with a virtuoso display that saw him concede just nine games to the defending champion.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria plays a backhand shot during his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Luke Saville of Australia on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on J© Getty Images

Past meetings

Djokovic has defeated Dimitrov in straight sets on three of the four occasions that they have faced other, with the emerging star only reaching a tie-break once in seven sets.

However, Dimitrov showed his mental toughness on the big stage when outlasting Djokovic in a Masters Series event in Madrid last year, responding from a second-set comeback to take the decider 6-3.

The two players haven't gone head to head for over a year, and with tomorrow's semi-final being their first encounter on grass, it's unlikely that their previous meetings will have any impact on the match.

Prediction

After derailing Murray's ambitions of a second Wimbledon title, Dimitrov will have to cope with the added expectations placed upon his shoulders as he stands on the brink of the big time for the first time in his professional career.

There were times during his match with Cilic that Djokovic was overpowered by a physically stronger opponent and it's possible that he could find himself on the end of another imposing display by Dimitrov.

However, in a contest between two of the most flexible movers in the game, experience on the biggest stage could benefit Djokovic, and while Dimitrov will undoubtedly threaten a win over the number one seed, Djokovic could come through in five sets.

2. Roger Federer vs. Milos Raonic

Route to the semi-finals

After his shock second-round exit last year, Federer returned to Wimbledon eager to make an impression, and he got his campaign off to the perfect start with a straight-sets demolition of Italy's Paolo Lorenzi.

Two more routine triumphs followed against Gilles Muller and Santiago Giraldo before Federer delivered another outstanding serving performance against the durable Tommy Robredo.

An all-Swiss affair with Stanislas Wawrinka awaited the seven-time winner in the last eight, but after dropping his first set of the tournament, Federer stormed back to defeat his compatriot in four sets.

Number eight seed Raonic caught the eye with his thunderous serving during the first three rounds, with the Canadian sending down 73 aces on the way to wins over Matthew Ebden, Jack Sock and Lukasz Kubot respectively.

The 23-year-old let slip his first set of the tournament against Kei Nishikori before coming through in four sets before he withstood the challenge of young Australian Nick Kyrgios and registering his second successive four-set victory.

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after defeating his Gentlemen's Singles first round match against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy on day two of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on June 24,© Getty Images

Past meetings

During a 10-month period between March 2012 and January 2013, Federer and Raonic played each other four times, with the Swiss winning on each occasion.

However, each contest was fiercely contested, with Raonic taking his more experienced opponent the distance in three of the matches, including a meeting on grass in Halle where Federer only came through in a last-set tie-break.

Their one encounter at a Grand Slam came in Australia at the start of 2013, with Federer managing to neutralise Raonic's serve on the way to a 6-4 7-6 6-2 success.

Prediction

This match is likely to depend on Federer's attempts to return the Canadian's serve and capitalise on his lack of experience at the back end of a Grand Slam, but Raonic has already proven this year that he possesses more than just a big serve.

Federer should have few problems behind his first serve, but when the two become embroiled in baseline exchanges, the Swiss is likely to mix up his shots to draw the error from his opponent.

Raonic is a live factor in this match, but if Federer finds the rhythm that saw him outclass Wawrinka in the last eight, he should be able to come through this test in no more than four sets.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia celebrates during his Gentlemen's Singles second round match against Richard Gasquet of France on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on June 26, 2014
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