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Djokovic romps into Wimbledon semis as Federer sets up Nadal clash

Updated July 11, 2019

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LONDON: Novak Djokovic of Serbia (bottom) serves to Belgium’s David Goffin during their Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday. — AP
LONDON: Novak Djokovic of Serbia (bottom) serves to Belgium’s David Goffin during their Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday. — AP

LONDON: Four-time champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon semi-finals for the ninth time on Wednesday, racking up his 70th career win at the All England Club in the process.

The top seed and world number one hit back from a break down in the first set to carve out a commanding 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over 21st seed David Goffin of Belgium.

In a ruthless display, the defending champion reeled off 15 of the last 17 games to secure a place in the semi-finals of the majors for the 36th time.

Next up is Spanish 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who made his first Grand Slam semi-final with a 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Argentina’s Guido Pella.

“He started well and was dictating play from the baseline,” 32-year-old Djokovic said of Goffin.

“Things could have gone a different way if I had lost the first set but I was very pleased with the second and third.

He added: “I had a tough match in the third round (against Hubert Hurkacz). Other than that, I’ve won in straight sets and played really well throughout the tournament. It’s exactly what I wanted and hopefully I can go in the right direction in the semis as well.”

Goffin was on top in the early stages as he sensed the opportunity to become the first Belgian man to make the semi-finals at a Slam since Xavier Malisse at Wimbledon in 2002.

The 28-year-old broke for a 4-3 lead but 15-time Slam winner Djokovic then reeled off the next nine games, taking the first set, and the second in which he allowed the Belgian just four points on his serve.

The contest was over by the time Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead in the third set.

Bautista Agut, 31, booked his first appearance in a Slam last-four at the 27th attempt by seeing off Pella, who had never previously reached a quarter-final at the majors.

SWITZERLAND’S Roger Federer hits a return to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their quarter-final.—AFP
SWITZERLAND’S Roger Federer hits a return to Kei Nishikori of Japan during their quarter-final.—AFP

“Novak is the number one in the world and he’s playing really well on grass,” said Bautista Agut, who has a 3-7 record against the Serb.

However, two of those wins came this year in Doha and Miami.

Bautista Agut was supposed to be on the island of Ibiza right now, having a bachelor party with a half-dozen pals ahead of his November wedding, but instead he will play on.

“Well,” the 31-year-old Bautista Agut said, “it feels better to be here in London.”

Roger Federer racked up his 100th win at Wimbledon as he reached his 13th semi-final at the All England Club and a duel with old rival Rafael Nadal.

Eight-time champion Federer recovered from losing the opening set to defeat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to book his place in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the 45th time.

The 37-year-old is also the oldest man to make the last-four of a major since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

Federer will now face Nadal at Wimbledon for the first time since their epic 2008 final after the two-time champion Spaniard defeated Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in his quarter-final.

Nadal’s victory kept alive his hopes of emulating Bjorn Borg in winning the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back three times.

“We have a lot of information on Rafa and so does he about us. I know people always hype it up in a big way,” said Federer.

“They did that again in Paris this year [when Nadal won their semi-final in straight sets]. I’d love to play against him here at Wimbledon. But I go about it like every other match.”

Federer and Nadal have met 39 times in their careers but just three times at Wimbledon.

RAFAEL Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over American Sam Querrey on Wednesday.—AP
RAFAEL Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over American Sam Querrey on Wednesday.—AP

The Swiss star won their first two encounters in the 2006 and 2007 finals before Nadal famously triumphed in 2008 in a five-set epic which is widely regarded as the greatest Slam final ever played.

Federer said he was unaware that he had become the first player ever to win 100 matches at the same Slam.

“A fan told me congratulations on your hundredth win and I thought, oh yes, you’re right!” Nishikori, bidding to become the first Japanese man to reach the semi-finals since Jiro Satoh in 1933, broke Federer in the first game on Centre Court.

It was enough for the 29-year-old to pocket the first set.

However, 20-time Grand Slam title winner Federer roared back, levelling the quarter-final with breaks in the second and sixth games of a 22-minute second set.

It was more of the same in the third as Federer found his range with a break for 4-3 before taking the set on a fourth set point.

Nishikori visibly wilted, saving two break points in the fifth game of the fourth set before fatally cracking in the ninth.

Against Querrey, Nadal was broken when serving for the first set at 5-4. But he converted his fourth break point in the next game, then saved three break points at 6-5 before finally clinching the set.

The next two sets weren’t nearly as competitive as Nadal broke twice in each and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019