4th July, 2012
Defending champion Novak Djokovic and six-time winner Roger Federer face a titanic Wimbledon semi-final showdown after the two title contenders wasted little time on their last eight matches on Wednesday.
While third seed Federer pummelled Russian 26th seed Mikhail Youzhny into submission in a 90-minute 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 masterclass on Centre Court, Djokovic also took the express route against German 31st seed Florian Mayer, recording an emphatic 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 victory on Court One.
Friday’s other semi-final between home favourite Andy Murray and French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will produce a first-time Wimbledon finalist.
Djokovic will attempt to reach his second successive Wimbledon final by extending his current winning streak against Federer to four matches in their first ever encounter at the All England Club.
The world number one has proved a thorn in Federer’s side of late, beating him in the semi-finals of the US and French Opens, although the Swiss great holds 14-12 edge over their 26 career meetings.
“It’s always a pleasure playing against Roger. I’m looking forward to it,” Djokovic said.
“He is a great champion and has been so dominant and consistent at the Grand Slams. He is the ultimate challenge on grass courts.”
While Djokovic has every reason to feel confident, Federer, who has now reached a record 32 Grand Slam semi-finals, looked in peak form as he delivered a royal command performance in front of Prince William and Catherine.
“I played great. Maybe my game matches up well against Mikhail,” said Federer, who last won Wimbledon in 2009.
“It helps when royalty and other stars come to watch, it’s inspiring and a thrill and helps tennis.”
Federer, who is without a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open, cruised to a 14th win in 14 meetings against Youzhny and, just as importantly for the 30-year-old, there were no signs of the back pain which had dogged him in the fourth round against Xavier Malisse.
Federer, chasing Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles, also put an end to a worrying sequence at the All England Club where he had been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last two years.
The most gripping of the four quarter-finals saw world number four Murray reach his fourth successive semi-final with a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Spain’s David Ferrer on Centre Court.
Murray, hoping to end Britain’s 76-year wait for a male singles champion at Wimbledon, is now just one win away from becoming the first British man to reach the All England Club final since Bunny Austin in 1938.
“Ferrer is a great player. He’s an unbelievably hard worker. I just played a bit better at the end of the sets,” Murray said.
“During the fourth set rain delay I went for a shower and threw some cold water on my face. It was a very intense atmosphere.
“If I lost that set it was going to be a very tough match. Tsonga will be tough, he’s serving very well, and I’ll have to play very well.”
Tsonga reached the semi-finals for the second successive year with a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 win over German 27th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The 27-year-old, who has lost five of his six meetings with Murray including on grass in the 2011 Queen’s final, knocked out Federer in last year’s quarter-finals after being two sets to love down before losing to Djokovic in the last four.
“I am happy to win and to get a second chance at a semi-final,” Tsonga said.
“Philipp played very well. He served well and was the better player from the baseline. It was tough out there.”