Djokovic, Federer to meet in semifinals
WIMBLEDON, England - After curling in a 102 mph ace to grab a two-set lead a mere 56 minutes into his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, Roger Federer casually pulled an extra tennis ball from his pocket and strolled to sit in his changeover chair for a sip to drink.
No fist pump. No yell of excitement. No energized jog to the sideline.
There still was work to be done - nothing to be taken for granted. Motivated by the bitter memory of quarterfinal losses at the All England Club the past two years, including a wasted two-set edge in 2011, six-time Wimbledon champion Federer bullied 26th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his record 32nd career Grand Slam semifinal.
“Feels great being back in the semis.?.?. Haven’t been here in the last couple years,” the third-seeded Federer said. “So this is nice, to be back to a place where I’ve been so many times before.”
He’s two wins away from a seventh Wimbledon championship, which would equal a mark set by William Renshaw in the 1880s - back when the defending champion received a bye directly into the final - and tied by Pete Sampras in 2000.
Nothing worked for Youzhny, including a kidding plea for help from eight-time major champion Andre Agassi, who was seated next to his wife, Steffi Graf, in the front row of the Royal Box, near Prince William and his wife, Kate.
“I know I’m playing really well,” Federer said. “I am aware things are going to get complicated in the next match.”
They sure are.
That’s because he’ll face a familiar foe Friday: No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, who didn’t have too much trouble beating No. 31 Florian Mayer of Germany 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
This will be the sixth semifinal in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments, and 27th meeting overall, for Federer and Djokovic, and their first at Wimbledon.
Federer leads 14-12, but Djokovic won six of their last seven matches, including their match at the French Open a month ago.
“There’s no secrets with those guys. They know how to play each other,” said Federer’s coach, Paul Annacone. “So it’s really going to be who plays the bigger points better.”
The other men’s semifinal will be No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain against No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Neither has won a Grand Slam title or been to a Wimbledon final.
Cue “Murray Mania,” as it’s known around these parts. He is trying to become the first British man to earn the trophy at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936; the last to even make it to the title match was Bunny Austin in 1938.
“If you think too much about it, and you read the newspapers and you watch the stuff on TV that’s said about you, I think it would become far too much,” Murray said. “But if you kind of shield yourself from it all and kind of just get into your own little bubble, only listen to the people that are around you, then it’s something you can deal with.”