Wimbledon: Final before the final

Djokovic,Federer clash in highly-anticipated semi-final – their first meeting at SW19

Written by Associated Press | London | Published: July 5, 2012 1:30:20 am

Novak Djokovic closed out his latest Wimbledon win with an ace,then threw a fist and let loose a primal scream. Bring on Roger Federer. They’ll meet at Wimbledon for the first time on Friday. In other quarter-final,France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached his second successive semi-final with a 7-6 4-6 7-6 6-2 win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Wednesday.

Fifth seed Tsonga danced around Court One in delight after breaking Kohlschreiber for the second time in the fourth set. He sealed victory on his first match point after rushing to the net and firing a crosscourt winner,clinching victory after two hours 48 minutes.Tsonga will play Briton Andy Murray,who reached his fourth straight Wimbledon semi-final by rallying from a set down to hold off David Ferrer 6-7 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-4 7-6 (4).

Federer earned a record 32nd Grand Slam semi-final berth and moved closer to a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title when he beat Mikhail Youzhny on Wednesday,6-1 6-2 6-2. Minutes later on an adjacent court,defending champion Djokovic finished off Florian Mayer,6-4 6-1 6-4. Federer has a 14-12 edge against Djokovic,who is ranked No. 1. They’ve met in Grand Slam semi-finals five times in the past two years,with Djokovic winning four of those matches. They’ve never played each other on grass. “A nice match-up,” Federer said. “Obviously I’m aware that Novak is the defending champion and the world No. 1. That’s not going to make it easy.”

Djokovic paid rich tributes to Federer. “It’s always a pleasure playing against Roger,’’ Djokovic said. “Obviously he’s a great champion. He has been so dominant and consistent in these Grand Slams,and he’s really an ultimate challenge on grass courts.’’

Federer had been tied with Jimmy Connors for the most major semi-finals. “I’m just happy that I’m around farther than I’ve been the last couple years,” Federer said.

Against the No. 26-seeded Youzhny,Federer showed no sign of the back ailment that prompted him to seek treatment during the first set of his previous match. In the second game he converted his fifth break-point chance and pulled away from there. “My back is holding up,” Federer said. “I could focus on tennis again.”

The Centre Court audience included Prince William and wife Kate,Andre Agassi,Steffi Graf and Rod Laver,all sitting in the Royal Box. A brief rain delay couldn’t slow Federer,and neither could Youzhny,who seemed pleased at times just to win a point.

Early in the final set,Youzhny looked up to the royal box and asked for help from Agassi,who laughed. Youzhny then double-faulted to lose the game. “It was pretty funny,’’ Federer said. “Mikhail is a great guy.” He’s also Federer’s favourite foil. Federer has won all 14 of their matches,his best record against any opponent. No. 3-ranked Federer seeks to match the record of seven Wimbledon titles set by William Renshaw in the 1880s and tied by Pete Sampras in 2000. If he wins the title,he’ll reclaim the top ranking from Djokovic and tie Sampras’ record for most weeks at the top.

Djokovic had just a little more difficulty in the quarter-finals than Federer. The Serb lost his serve for the only time in the fifth game but immediately broke back. Serving at 4-all,he fell behind love-40 but erased all three break points,then broke to take the set and the lead for good.

Mayer did his best to stay in the match with his unorthodox style. He dug out a between-the-legs volley during one rally. A subsequent scrambling sequence required him to dive and hit a spectacular backhand volley,then rise and put away another backhand volley. But Djokovic dominated with his aggressive play,hitting 50 winners to 14 for Mayer.

Paes-Vesnina in quarters

Leander Paes and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Ashley Fisher and Mona Barthel. The fourth seeded Indo-Russian pair beat Fisher and Barthel in a match that lasted just over an hour and will next take on Belarussian pair of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka.

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