Novak Djokovic is trying to add to his 2011 Wimbledon crown. Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk
12 months ago at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro faced off in the battle for a bronze medal at the London Olympics. The Argentine won that battle in straight sets, despite coming off an epic semi-final loss against Roger Federer. Now they meet in the final four with a spot in the final at the All England Club up for grabs.
Del Potro’s affinity with centre court continued on Wednesday night (AEST) when he toppled Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer in three sets . Like Djokovic, he hasn’t dropped a set all tournament, but the win over Ferrer was the first time he has beaten a top 10 seed at the event in six attempts. Del Potro injured his knee in the third round and slipped early against Ferrer, but after a quick check-up from the doctor the problem didn’t appear to hinder him for the rest of the match.
Djokovic cruised through his quarter-final against former finalist Tomas Berdych winning 7-6 6-4 6-3 . He has rarely looked troubled throughout The Championships, but an in-form Del Potro is a step up. Djokovic and Ferrer are the two best returners on tour, but the latter wasn’t able to do much with the big Argentine’s serve throughout. If Del Potro is consistently firing his first ball down, as he did in the second and third sets against Ferrer, Djokovic will be in a contest.
The Serb holds and 8-3 head-to-head advantage, but importantly, Del Potro won their last encounter at Indian Wells where he came from a set down to win in three.
In the other men’s semi-final, crowd favourite Andy Murray will have to back up from his remarkable quarter-final against Fernando Verdasco when he takes on rising Polish star Jerzy Janowicz . The Scot was lucky to make it through to the final four after dropping the first two sets against Verdasco, but he had the centre court crowd in full voice as he came back to win 7-5 in the fifth .
After beating accomplished veterans Radek Stepanek, Nicolas Almagro and Jurgen Melzer, Janowicz accounted for countryman Lukas Kobot in straight sets to book his spot in the semis. It’s the first time he has been beyond the third round in a Slam.
There is some history between these two; in a Davis Cup match in Liverpool four years ago, Murray appeared to mock the then 18-year-old Janowicz in their singles clash which Murray predictably won. The Pole got his revenge at the Paris Masters last year causing a major boilover with his three-set win.
Janowicz produced a monster 30 aces and 59 winners in his third round victory over Almagro. He’ll need his serve to be in top gear again to make life difficult for one of the game’s best returners. If it’s not, then Murray should have a relatively easy time of it with two days to back up from the Verdasco marathon. There certainly won’t be too many long rallies like he had against the Spaniard.
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