Friday 22 September 2017

Roger federer and Novak Djokovic advance to set up epic Wimbledon semi-final

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

BOTH Roger Federer and Noval Djokovic qualified for the last four with impressive wins in their respective quarter-finals at Wimbledon today ... and set up an epic semi-final clash.

Roger Federer had Mikhail Youzhny in such knots as he breezed through to a Wimbledon semi-final appointment with Novak Djokovic that the Russian turned to the Royal Box for help.

Six-time champion Federer coasted to a 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory against a player he has never lost to. This was their 14th career match and there was never any doubt the outcome would be a familiar one.

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watching on, sitting just along from Wimbledon royalty in Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, Federer was out to impress and certainly accomplished that mission.

If the royal couple came for Andy Murray, second on Centre Court against David Ferrer, the main course would have to go a long way to trump their starter.

Indeed after Federer put away a delicious backhand drop volley to seal victory, the Royal Box led a standing ovation.

"I thought I played great out there," Federer said.

"I'm extremely happy to be back in the semi-finals here at Wimbledon.

"I think it helps when royalty shows up and other legends of the game come to see me play. I think it's inspiring. I'm happy they came to support tennis and support me. It was very special."

A roar of approval had greeted William and Kate as they made their entrance, followed seconds later by another for the players.

The once-customary bow to the Royal Box is no longer a Wimbledon tradition, and even from the early stages it was those in the plush seats who may have felt more like showing deference as Federer began what proved to be a masterful display.

The 30-year-old Swiss took just a minute to take the opening game to love, and broke serve in the next at the fifth time of asking.

The back injury that bothered him against Xavier Malisse was a distant memory, seemingly not an issue today.

Federer was in the mood. He swatted away a forehand impishly into the corner, with the minimum of effort, drawing gasps from the crowd.

He had many on their feet when after twice rescuing what seemed lost causes he whipped the most sumptuous of forehands across court and past Youzhny.

With the first set wrapped up in 28 minutes, play was briefly interrupted when rain began to fall.

The Centre Court roof had been left open, with organisers adamant this is an outdoor tournament, and sure enough it was a passing shower, keeping the players off for barely quarter of an hour.

On their return, the punishment continued for Youzhny who was starting to play to the crowd, screaming out after saving a pair of break points before trundling the ball into the net on the next point to slump an immediate break behind.

Federer's dominance over Youzhny dates back to their first meeting on tour in Stockholm 12 years ago.

They played at the fourth-round stage here last year, with Federer going on to lose to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters.

It was blowing a gale as Youzhny cut Federer's lead to 3-2, but that was the last game the man from Moscow, also 30, won in the second set.

Youzhny, having turned to the dignitaries in desperation in the third game of the third set, brought up two break points in the fourth when he trailed 2-1, and gave a sustained cry of agony after failing to take the first. When the second slipped away too he turned away in resignation.

At 5-1 and 40-love down, Youzhny saved three match points and held serve. An unexpected turn of events. But when the fourth arrived in the next game, Federer had held back a treat and delivered the most elegant of volleys for the finishing touch.

Third seed Federer can turn his focus to Friday's semi-final against world number one Djokovic, who won almost as easily today against Germany's Florian Mayer.

"I'd love to play Novak, there's no doubt about it," Federer said.

"I don't think I've played him here at Wimbledon so that'd be a first and a nice match hopefully."

Novak Djokovic played the best tennis of his Wimbledon campaign to see off Florian Mayer and set up a mouth-watering semi-final against Roger Federer.

Mayer, ranked 29th in the world, played some excellent tennis, particularly in the first set, but Djokovic's experience, power and superior placement allowed the world number one to record a rousing 6-4 6-1 6-3 win on Court One.

Federer, who is looking for his seventh Wimbledon title, has a 14-12 win-loss record against Djokovic, although the Swiss has not beaten the defending champion in 12 months and the two have never met on grass before.

The meeting with Federer will be Djokovic's ninth consecutive grand slam semi-final appearance.

Djokovic, whose last defeat to Federer came in the semi-finals of the French Open last summer, is relishing the prospect of another showdown on a big stage.

"I am looking forward to it," Djokovic said.

"It's always a pleasure playing him. He is a great champion. He has reached 33 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals.

"He has dominated for so long. He is so consistent and for me it will be the ultimate challenge."

Djokovic was impressed with the way that Mayer played today.

"It was a tricky match," he said.

"There were quite a few breaks and there was a rain delay and the conditions were quite windy.

"It could have gone either way but overall I was happy with my performance."

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