- Wimbledon, Day Nine
Djokovic passes Berdych test, set to face Del Potro
Novak Djokovic powered into the semi-finals of Wimbledon with a display of quality and resilience to dispatch Tomas Berdych in straight sets.
The duo served up some of the finest play of the tournament to date in the first set, before Djokovic took an error-filled second. The third set returned to the somewhere approaching the highs of the first and it was the 2011 champion who claimed a 7-6(5) 6-4 6-3 win.
Berdych set the tone for the first set in the opening point as a rasping forehand fizzed beyond Djokovic. The No. 1 seed responded by working a couple of break points in the opening game but on each occasion Berdych countered.
The quality throughout the first set was simply stunning. Berdych fired missiles, particularly on the forehand wing, while Djokovic somehow kept painting the lines. With neither player refusing to give ground, the No. 1 Court crowd were treated to an opening set tiebreak.
For all the quality Berdych had produced in the opening 12 games, the Czech was arguably the better player, he served up a host of errors in the breaker and they cost him dear. He missed a backhand down the line with a large gap to aim at and at set point down, he sent a forehand wide.
Berdych shook off the loss of the first set and came out swinging in the second, breaking Djokovic to love. He worked a break point in the Serb's next service game, retrieved a backhand with interest and it enabled him to take the point and a double break of serve.
Djokovic looked impregnable on serve in the first set, he was anything but in the second.
He wolfed down food at the changeover when 3-0 down in the second set, suggesting his energy levels were low. The Serbian was in need of a boost and he was given one by umpire Enric Molina. Berdych was on the back foot in the fourth game but thought he had staved off a second of three breaks points he was faced with in the game when appearing to catch the line with a crisp strike. Molina deemed the ball to be out, which was challenged by Berdych. Hawkeye showed the player to be correct, but he had to replay the point and Djokovic took it to get one of the breaks of serve back. A steely stare from Berdych the way of Molina told its own story.
Berdych was still a break to the good, but his game unravelled following the loss of his serve. The second break back followed shortly afterwards, as Berdych's level dropped dramatically - with the Czech perhaps still shaken by the controversial over-rule from Molina.
Djokovic is not a player to pass up gifts and as the error count from Berdych increased, his intensity rose as well. Djokovic won five out of six games to move to the brink of the second. He did not need to win a sixth game, as it was gift wrapped by his opponent. Three errors flew off the Berdych racket, the worst of which came at set point down. A fine serve produced a short ball from Djokovic but, with an open court to aim at, Berdych fired the ball into the net and trudged back to his chair like a beaten man.
Against a lesser man than Djokovic he may have been able to mount a counter-offensive. But he was faced with the world's best player and it was perhaps that fact that forced him to go for a huge second serve at break point down in the fourth game. The ball missed its target and the double fault gave Djokovic the break that effectively sealed his passage into the last four.
Up next for Djokovic is a semi-final with Juan Martin Del Potro who survived an injury scare to beat David Ferrer 6-2 6-4 7-6(5).
On the second point of the match, Del Potro twisted his knee and looked in real trouble as the trainer came on court. His movement was extremely limited in the first set, but he found a couple of breaks of serve to take the set.
Although moving far from freely, Del Potro was able to fire blistering forehand after blistering forehand. His power proved too much for Ferrer and it was appropriate that a brilliant forehand down the line sealed the win.