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Federer, Nadal cruise into semis
July 06, 2007 18:50 IST
Last Updated: July 06, 2007 21:34 IST
After days of unrelenting rain at the grasscourt Grand Slam, the world's two best players stood only one match away from a final collision.
A merciless Nadal flexed his well toned muscles for a 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 quarter-final victory over Czech Tomas Berdych.
The 21-year-old Spaniard would have been especially pleased with his brisk workout following the two five setters he had to endure in the previous rounds.
As luck would have it, Nadal, who did not finish his third round three-day marathon until Wednesday, became the first man to book his place in the semis.
"Unbelievable but true," laughed the triple French Open champion.
He must have been rubbing his hands in glee as his semi-final opponent, Novak Djokovic, was engaged in an exhausting five-hour thriller before eventually subduing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 4-6, 7-5.
World number one Federer had enjoyed an unexpected six-day holiday after his fourth round opponent Tommy Haas withdrew injured.
Perhaps feeling a little rusty, he dropped his first set of these championships but that did not stop the Swiss from streaking to a 7-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Berdych ran into a little bit of trouble as soon as he walked on to Centre Court as one of the logos on his baseball cap was deemed to breach tournament rules on overt sponsorship.
The umpire took care of the problem by scratching off the offending mark but it turned out to the least of 21-year-old's worries and he was easily outclassed by Nadal.
Before the match, Berdych had held a 3-2 win-loss advantage over Nadal and had declared "I have a chance" but that hope was crushed in just over two hours.
A clay-loving Spaniard playing in his first Wimbledon quarters would not usually have provided much of a threat to Federer's progress towards a 13th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.
But a gusting wind and some pin-point groundstrokes from Ferrero threw the Swiss off course in the second set before he restored calm to chalk up his 32nd consecutive win at the All England [Images] Club.
More significantly for 25-year-old Federer, he is now only two matches away from matching Bjorn Borg's feat of five successive Wimbledon crowns.
If there was a prize for endurance, Serbian Djokovic would already have walked away with it.
Not only has the fourth seed been on court for nearly 17 hours during his five matches to date at these championships, he has also won eight sets in tiebreaks.
But after reaching the last four here for the first time, Djokovic will be praying the exertions of the past week do not catch up with him when he faces Nadal in a repetition of last month's French Open semi-final.
4-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat 10-Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) 7-6(4), 7-6(9), 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5; 1-Roger Federer (Switzerland [Images]) beat 20-Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spain) 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3; 2-Rafael Nadal (Spain) beat 7-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-2.
- Goran will always sing in the rain