Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro reach Wimbledon semis

1:51 PM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - World No. 1 and former Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, last year's runner-up Andy Murray and former U.S. Open titlist Juan Martin del Potro were a trio of quarterfinal winners Wednesday at The Championships.

Djokovic will meet del Potro in Friday's semifinals. The big Argentine beat the Serb in last year's Olympic bronze-medal match on the grass here at the venerable All England Club.

Murray's semifinal opponent will be rising 6-foot-8 Pole Jerzy Janowicz.

Playing in his 17th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal, the Serbian star Djokovic handled seventh-seeded Czech slugger Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-3, on Court 1. The three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Berdych was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal here three years ago.

Djokovic advanced in 2 hours, 15 minutes by ripping 16 aces and breaking Berdych on four occasions.

"I've been playing my best tennis of the year on grass," Djokovic said. "I'm glad because it's not my most preferred surface. Hopefully, my experience can help me."

The 26-year-old Djokovic is now 14-2 lifetime against the 27-year-old world No. 6 Berdych, who upset the Serb in a Wimbledon semifinal three years ago. Djokovic is now 3-1 in their overall Grand Slam meetings. Berdych won their last tour matchup in Rome in May.

The remarkable Djokovic will appear in his 13th straight Grand Slam semifinal and is seeking a seventh career major singles title. The stalwart from Belgrade will appear in his fifth Wimbledon semi (1-3).

Djokovic beat Murray in this year's Australian Open final, lost to Murray in last year's U.S. Open title tilt, and captured his lone Wimbledon championship two years ago.

In Wednesday's nightcap on an electric Centre Court, the second-seeded Murray came all the way back to beat former top-10 star Fernando Verdasco, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

The Spanish left-hander Verdasco stunned the British faithful by taking the first two sets against Murray, who blew a 3-1 lead in the second as Verdasco reeled off five straight games to baffle the Brit.

Murray righted the ship in the third set, however, as be broke for a 2-0 lead and never looked back in taking the lopsided stanza by five games.

In the fourth set, Murray got the key break he needed for a 4-3 lead en route to winning the stanza and setting the stage for a dramatic fifth.

The tight final set saw its first break of serve in the 11th game, as a Verdasco forehand floated long to give Murray a 6-5 advantage. Murray would then serve for the match. The Scot fired an ace to set up his first match point, which he converted when the Spaniard misfired long on one final backhand, setting off a home celebration in the stands.

Murray prevailed in 3 hours, 27 minutes, as the Dunblane native popped 14 aces, compared to 12 for Verdasco, who piled up nine double faults on Day 9. Murray wound up with five breaks, while Verdasco settled for three.

It marked the seventh time that Murray has fought back from two-sets-to-love down in his ATP career.

The 6-foot-3 star, who skipped last month's French Open due to injury, is now 24-2 in his last 26 Grand Slam matches.

Murray improved to 9-1 lifetime against Verdasco, who beat the Brit in the fourth round at the 2009 Aussie Open and lost to Murray in the second round at the 2007 Aussie.

The 29-year-old Verdasco was playing in his first-ever Wimbledon quarterfinal and fourth career Grand Slam quarter (1-3).

Murray will appear in his fifth straight Wimbledon semifinal (1-3). He lost to Roger Federer in last year's Wimbledon final, but then upset the seven-time Wimbledon champion in the Olympic gold-medal match a month later here on the famed Centre Court.

The 26-year-old Murray is trying to give Britain its first male Wimbledon champion in 77 years.

Meanwhile, an eighth-seeded del Potro took out fourth-seeded David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Ferrer was last month's French Open runner-up to his fellow Spaniard Nadal.

The 6-foot-7 del Potro, playing with a left knee injury, moved on in 2 hours, 16 minutes with the help of 12 aces and three service breaks, compared to zero breaks for the much-smaller, 5-foot-9 Ferrer.

Only five points into their quarterfinal, del Potro chased a Ferrer overhead into the corner, where he lost traction on the slick grass. The Argentine hyper-extended his knee and crumpled to the court.

"It's really, really painful," del Potro said of the injury that has plagued him since he first slipped on the Wimbledon grass last week. "I twist my knee once again, but the doctor gave me some magic pills. I could finish the match. I'm so glad to go through."

Del Potro is now 3-6 lifetime against Ferrer, who beat the Argentine in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year. The Spaniard also bested del Potro in the second round at the Aussie Open in 2008.

The 24-year-old "Delpo" improved to 3-5 in his career major quarters, including 1-0 now at Wimbledon. The formidable Argentine stunned the iconic Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open finale.

Del Potro will appear in his third career Grand Slam semifinal (1-1).

The 31-year-old Ferrer was playing in his second straight Wimbledon quarterfinal (0-2) and 12th overall Grand Slam quarter (6-6).

Del Potro will face Djokovic for a 12th time, with the Serb comfortably leading their lifetime series, 8-3. Djokovic is 3-0 in their career Grand Slam matchups and the two stars will meet for the first time here at Wimbledon.

And in the first-ever all-Polish Grand Slam quarterfinal, the 24th-seeded Janowicz handled 31-year-old Lukasz Kubot, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, in 2 hours, 7 minutes on Court 1 to give Poland its' first-ever male Grand Slam semifinalist. The menacing Janowicz uncorked 30 aces, including some 140-mph bombs on Day 9.

This marked the first-ever meeting between the towering Janowicz and 6-foot-3 Kubot, who was unable to break his compatriot on Wednesday. Janowicz, meanwhile, tallied three breaks of Kubot en route to the final four.

The 22-year-old Janowicz became a regular on the ATP World Tour just last season. He'll meet Murray for a third time at the ATP level, with both players splitting their first two encounters.

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