World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is out. Rafael Nadal is sidelined. But two of the former fabled “Big Four,” and two perennial Top 10ers looking to step it up, moved into the Wimbledon semifinals on Wednesday.
Actually Milos Raonic is looking to step it up while Tomas Berdych is more like, “Eh.”
No. 2-ranked Andy Murray fought through an emotional five-set win, beating No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1.
“Tsonga’s one of the best grasscourt players in the world,” Murray told BBC Sport after eventually stopping a comeback by the Frenchman from 0-2 sets down. “He came up with some unbelievable passing shots on the run in big moments, started returning better. He mixed it up well, so credit to him for fighting his way back into the match…That first set was a tough one for him to lose, and I ran away with the second but he fought right until the end and it was a great match.”
In the semis the homecountry favorite will face the No. 10 seed Berdych, who on Wednesday beat No. 32 seed Lucas Pouille of France 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-2.
“Lucas had a great run,” said Berdych, whose best Slam showing was a Wimbledon final in 2010, losing to Nadal. “I was trying to find my rhythm in the first set.”
Berdych has dropped his last four encounters against Murray, and says he will try his best — then maybe ponder why he doesn’t have Ivan Lendl in his players’ box.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you can stand and say, Okay, I’ve tried everything that I possibly can,” Berdych said. “If you made it one day, great. If not, what can you do?”
I dunno, get a new coach? Maybe have some belief?
No. 3-seeded Roger Federer absolutely stole a win from No. 9 seed Marin Cilic, fighting off three match points in a five-set 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 victory.
“When you’re down two sets to love, 3-all, love-40, it’s a moment when it’s not in your control anymore,” Federer said afterwards. “There were many more match points in my mind than just three today. But I fought, I tried, I believed. At the end I got it done.”
Federer, who missed the French Open with a back injury, said his body held up, as he hopes it continues to do in the semifinals.
“To win a match like this, to test the body, to be out there again fighting, being in a physical battle and winning it is an unbelievable feeling,” the Swiss said. “My legs were there, my back was there, serving was key. Mentally this is going to give me a hell of a boost. I am ecstatic that I was able to come through…somehow.”
Federer in the semifinals will meet No. 6 seed Milos Raonic, who with coach John McEnroe in his corner beat the Djokovic-killing No. 28-seeded American Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
“It was very clear, the things he believed I needed to do,” Raonic said regarding McEnroe and his increased net-rushing ways. “We really focused on not passing up any opportunities to come forward, to always keep the pressure on my opponents, keep them guessing, making them feel uncomfortable…He definitely keeps emphasizing demeanor on court, which I probably would not have put as one of the priorities.”
Murray leads Berdych 8-6 in their career meetings, but the two have never squared off on grass. Federer leads Raonic 9-2, which includes a straight-set win in the 2014 Wimbledon semis, and a three-set win at Halle in 2012.
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