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Rediff.com  » Sports » Quickfire Murray, Federer on course

Quickfire Murray, Federer on course

July 01, 2009 23:50 IST

Andy Murray spared his nearest and dearest another traumatic day out at Wimbledon as he made serene progress to join Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the grasscourt championships on Wednesday.

Two days after putting his mother, girlfriend, 15,000 Centre Court fans and millions of British television viewers through the wringer with his electrifying five-set win against Stanislas Wawrinka, Murray produced a no-nonsense 7-5 6-3 6-2 win over Juan Carlos Ferrero.

While the authoritative exhibition on a roasting Centre Court gave Murray a place in the last four at Wimbledon for the first time, the sight of all-conquering Federer at the tail-end of a grand slam is taken for granted these days.

The world number two reached his 21st successive major semi by dousing the fireworks of Croatian ace machine Ivo Karlovic 6-3 7-5 7-6.

"Twenty one in row, it's amazing. Means the world to me. It's been quite a streak and I'm happy it's still alive," said Federer, in hot pursuit of a record 15th major trophy.

Federer's win may not have raised any eyebrows but Tommy Haas's 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory over fourth seed Novak Djokovic certainly provided the biggest shock of the men's tournament.

At 31, Haas was the oldest man in the last eight but he buzzed around Court One and stung Djokovic with a string of winners to reach the last four at Wimbledon for the first time.

He now faces Federer, the man he came so close to beating at the French Open last month.

"There is not much this guy cannot do," Haas said. "I am going to try and go out there and see if I can annoy him a little bit and go from there."

Djokovic did not think Haas was facing mission impossible, saying: "I think he's a perfect player for this surface."

On a day when Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Djokovic and Ferrero -- who between them own 19 grand slam titles -- were also out to claim last four spots, it was Murray who was again grabbing all the attention before he had stepped on court.

So desperate were some fans to see Murray end Britain's 73-year wait for a men's singles champion, they joined the queue to buy tickets for the quarter-final action within minutes of the Scot's captivating late-night win over Wawrinka.

Murray's mother, Judy, described watching her son's tussle against Wawrinka as "a cross between seasickness and having a heart attack" and the third seed made sure there was no need to call in a doctor on Wednesday.

"It's tough to recover from back-to-back five-set matches. But I was only on for about an hour and a half, and I should be a hundred percent for the next match," the 22-year-old said. In 101 unflustered minutes, he tossed out the Spanish wildcard and is now primed to take on the tougher challenges that lie ahead.

None of those will be bigger than Federer should the two meet in Sunday's final.

The five-times Wimbledon champion has come a long way from the teenager who had stepped on Centre Court for the first time in 2001 to face Pete Sampras.

INTIMDATING SURROUNDINGS

So intimidated was Federer by the surroundings, his hands went cold, his pulse raced and his head was spinning. It was an experience that hit Karlovic as soon as he walked out for his first grand slam quarter-final.

Until Wednesday, Karlovic had not been broken once in any of 79 service games at this year's tournament and had sent down an eye-watering 137 aces. Such stats would strike fear into most players but Federer is no ordinary opponent and it took him just 11 minutes to blunt the 2.08m tall player's key weapon.

A blink-and-miss service return cut the Croatian down to size as Federer broke for a 3-1 lead and the 22nd seed's day began to unravel.

With Federer stroking forehand, backhand and volley winners with ease, Karlovic employed some drastic tactics. But whether he played with or without shades -- the end result was the same.

Watched by Titanic actress Kate Winslet from the Royal Box, Federer sunk Karlovic with the minimum of fuss to extend his record to 9-1 over the Croatian.

"You expect a tough scoreline all the time, it's not easy to break him we know that so I am happy to have broken him twice and won the match," said Federer.

Roddick and Hewitt will be out renew a rivalry that is now into its ninth year.

The Australian, 2002 champion here, leads their head-to-head 6-5 but will need all the support of his boisterous Fanatics cheerleaders as he looks to snap a four-match losing run against the American sixth seed.

Pritha Sarkar
Source:
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