Djokovic, Murray remain on course for finals showdown


Novak Djokovic (left) and Andy Murray AFP PHOTOS

LONDON: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray remain on course for a Wimbledon final showdown after the top two seeds took contrasting routes into the last four on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

Djokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro for a place in Sunday’s finals as the world No. 1 clinched his 13th consecutive Grand Slam last four spot with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Tomas Berdych.

The 2011 champion is yet to drop a set in his five matches at this year’s tournament and is now just two wins away from lifting the All England Club trophy for the second time.

Del Potro beat Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after surviving a nasty fall in the opening game, which left the Argentine eighth seed needing several minutes of treatment on a left knee already heavily bandaged.

In the other half of the draw, Murray showed impressive resolve as the world No. 2 battled back from two sets down to defeat unseeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

Murray, aiming to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936, will play Polish 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz for a place in the final for a second successive year.

Janowicz defeated compatriot Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to become Poland’s first male Grand Slam semifinalist.

A day of high drama started with Djokovic avenging his 2010 Wimbledon semifinals defeat against Berdych.

That was one of just two wins for the Czech seventh seed in their 15 meetings. And the losing streak always looked likely to continue once Djokovic took a tight first set in the tie-break on Court One.

Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam champion, recovered from 3-0 down in the second set and surged to victory in his 17th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals appearance.

“It was a close match,” Djokovic said. “But I have a commitment to go far in this tournament. I am playing some of my best tennis on grass even though it’s not my preferred surface,”

Berdych added: “I can play better than I played today. If you give him too much then it’s a lot.”

Murray, beaten by Roger Federer in last year’s final, has now won his last 16 matches on grass and will appear in his fifth successive Wimbledon semifinals after bringing Centre Court to their feet in celebration of his epic comeback.

Next up for Murray is the 22-year-old Janowicz, who fired 30 aces and 58 winners to see off world number 130 Kubot before breaking down in tears.


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