WIMBLEDON, England – After curling in a 102 mph ace to grab a two-set lead a mere 56 minutes into his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, Roger Federer casually pulled an extra tennis ball from his pocket and strolled to sit in his changeover chair for a sip to drink.
No fist pump. No yell of excitement. No energized jog to the sideline.
There still was work to be done; nothing to be taken for granted. Motivated by the bitter memory of quarterfinal losses at the All England Club the past two years, including a wasted two-set edge in 2011, six-time Wimbledon champion Federer bullied 26th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, to reach his record 32nd career Grand Slam semifinal.
“Feels great being back in the semis,” the third-seeded Federer said. “… Haven’t been here in the last couple years. So this is nice, to be back to a place where I’ve been so many times before.”
He’s two wins away from a seventh Wimbledon title, which would equal a mark set by William Renshaw in the 1880s — back when the defending champion received a bye directly into the final — and tied by Pete Sampras in 2000.
His foe Friday will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, who didn’t have much trouble beating No. 31 Florian Mayer of Germany, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.
This will be the sixth semifinal in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments, and 27th meeting overall, for Federer and Djokovic, and their first at Wimbledon.
Federer leads 14-12, but Djokovic won six of their past seven matches, including at the French Open last month.
The other men’s semifinal will be betwen No. 4 Andy Murray of Scotland and No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Neither has won a Grand Slam title or been to a Wimbledon final.
Cue “Murray Mania,” as it’s known around these parts. He is trying to become the first British man to earn the trophy at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936; the last to even make it to the title match was Bunny Austin in 1938.
“If you think too much about it, and you read the newspapers and you watch the stuff on TV that’s said about you, I think it would become far too much,” Murray said. “But if you kind of shield yourself from it all and kind of just get into your own little bubble, only listen to the people that are around you, then it’s something you can deal with.”
Murray defeated No. 7 David Ferrer of Spain, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Tsonga got to his second consecutive Wimbledon semifinal by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
He’s 1-5 against Murray, including a loss at Wimbledon two years ago.
In the women’s semifinals today, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams plays No. 2-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland faces No. 8 Angelique Kerber of Germany.