Federer primed for Djokovic showdown
Mikhail Youzhny would have found it easier locating the Higgs boson God particle than he did in unearthing a frailty in Roger Federer's game yesterday on Centre Court, the despairing Russian at one point appealing to the Royal Box for help.
Even though there was a regal sporting line-up arranged alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, notably Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Rod Laver, there was no advice forthcoming.
Novak Djokovic will have to turn to his inner muse if he is to overcome the six-time champion in their first meeting on grass in tomorrow's semi-final, Federer reaching that stage in a grand slam for the 32nd time to eclipse Jimmy Connor's record.
Federer's 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory in 92 minutes will have caused a few shivers, no matter that Djokovic, the defending champion, did not look too shabby himself. Federer, though, was in sumptuous form, entrancing his opponent and enchanting a congregation that had come to worship, the occupants of the Royal Box included. It was a two-way love-in.
"I enjoy seeing the legends coming out to follow the tennis," said Federer. "It's great for the event, great for Wimbledon, great for the players. They're not here just to drink champagne and tea in the back. They really do come for the tennis. I do feel that. That's probably one of the reasons I play well on Centre Court."
He certainly does, reaching his eighth Wimbledon semi-final, his first in three years. Federer was entirely nonplussed by his opponent's petition to the tennis deities at the start of the third set.
"It was just jokes, pretty funny you know, and Mikhail is a great guy, getting pumped up a bit at times with his outbursts, and then there are times when it's not going so well, he takes it easy, too, which is great to see," said Federer, who disclosed that nothing these days causes him to lose his cool.
"There needs a lot to go wrong for me to lose my temper. Maybe I am the way I am today because I used to be completely nuts on the court before."
And now he is serenity in motion, flowing through his repertoire, slicing, angling, smashing or powering the ball into parts of the court that others cannot reach. Certainly Youzhny had no option but to play the role of mere mortal, barely managing to induce the slightest flicker of concern or self-exasperation in his opponent.
Even the dodgy back that troubled Federer in the previous round against Xavier Malisse has been brought to book.
"I'm happy going into the semis that I'm not tired, I'm not injured, I'm not anything," said Federer. "I've been playing well for a year now. I'm fresh and ready to go."
There was never much prospect of Youzhny causing Federer any real trouble.
He managed two break points against the serve in the fourth game of the third set but, like many before him, could not finish off the Fed.
Youzhny let out a roar of self-loathing when he fluffed his first break point that would have woken the dead in home town Moscow.
After an opening week of such upset and uncertainty, normal service has been restored with the progression of Federer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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