Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both came through their quarterfinals in straight sets on Thursday to set up a mouth-watering last four matchup to decide who will go for gold at the London Olympics.
Novak Djokovic was delighted to progress past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he chases Serbia's first gold medal of the Olympic Games.
Beginning the day's play on Court One, Murray dispatched Spanish opponent Nicolas Almagro in impressive fashion, 6-4, 6-1 to move into the semifinals. Key to the home favorite's swift progress was a superb serving serving performance. So often a barometer of his game, Murray enjoyed a first-serve percentage of 81 percent, while adding 15 aces.
The Scot, who reached the final of Wimbledon at the All England Club just last month, dictated the match against the clay-court specialist, hitting 29 winners to Almagro's six. Having gotten the solitary break of the first set in the sixth game, Murray raced through the second set as he broke in the opening game. In fairness to Almagro, Murray's relative comfort in the second set was aided by a troubling shoulder injury to the world No.12.
Watched on by surprise guests on Court One, Prince William and wife Kate, it was a fine way for Murray to recover after a difficult match in the last round against Marcos Baghdatis.
While Murray was expected to progress with little problem, the relative ease of Djokovic's victory was something of a surprise. The Serbian had enjoyed some epic battles with his quarterfinal opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, down the years, not least at this year's French Open when Djokovic had to save match points before eventually prevailing in five sets.
There was no such drama on court today, though. Djokovic raced through the first set in 32 minutes, taking it 6-1. To his credit, Tsonga threatened to make a comeback as he broke for a 3-0 second-set lead. But Djokovic fought back and, with the set heading for a tiebreak, got the decisive break at 6-5 to claim victory.
As impressive as Djokovic was, it was hard not to think that Tsonga had perhaps been hindered by his close-to five-hour marathon second round match, which ended in a 25-23 final set victory over Milos Raonic, on Tuesday.
While Djokovic and Murray face off in a heavyweight semifinal, there is plenty to look forward to on the other side of the draw with world No.1 Roger Federer going up against Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer was given a proper test in his quarterfinal on Thursday, coming through 6-4, 7-6(5) against American John Isner.
Breaks of serve were always going to be in short supply against big-serving Isner and so it proved in a tight opening set. Federer finally made the breakthrough in the ninth game to get the break and the opening set.
Isner kept plucking away in the second set, though, and to his credit perservered in trying to impose his monstrous game on his illustrious opponent. The set went all the way through to a tiebreak as both men held a vice like grip on their service games. Serving at 5-6 in the breaker Isner endured a cruel ending as a backhand from Federer clipped the net cord and dribbled over, leaving the world No.11 with a knowing smile of misfortune while Federer was all apologies as he made his way to the net.
The defending Wimbledon champion is now just one match away from another final at the All England Club with the only major prize yet to fall his way, on the line.
Federer will be fully aware that nothing can be taken for granted in a semifinal with Del Potro. While the Swiss has a dominant 12-2 record against the Argentinian, including winning the last six, still firmly in both men's memory will be Del Potro's victory in the US Open final.
Del Potro battled past Japan's Kei Nishikori in two tight sets, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Thursday as he looks to put his injury nightmares since that victory in New York firmly behind him.
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