WIMBLEDON, England (AP):
After curling in a 102 mph ace to grab a two-set lead a mere 56 minutes into his Wimbledon quarter-final yesterday, Roger Federer casually pulled an extra tennis ball from his pocket and strolled to sit in his changeover chair for a sip to drink.
No fist pump. No yell of excitement. No energised jog to the sideline.
There still was work to be done; nothing to be taken for granted. Motivated by the bitter memory of quarter-final losses at the All England Club the past two years, including a wasted two-set edge in 2011, six-time Wimbledon champion Federer bullied 26th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his record 32nd career Grand Slam semi-final.
"Feels great being back in the semis. ... Haven't been here in the last couple years," the third-seeded Federer said. "So this is nice, to be back to a place where I've been so many times before."
Nothing worked for Youzhny, including a kidding plea for help from eight-time major champion Andre Agassi, who was seated next to his wife, Steffi Graf, in the front row of the Royal Box, near Prince William and his wife, Kate.
"I know I'm playing really well," Federer said. "I am aware things are going to get complicated in the next match."
That's because he'll face a familiar foe tomorrow: No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, who didn't have too much trouble while beating No. 31 Florian Mayer of Germany 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
This will be the sixth semi-final in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments, and 27th meeting overall, for Federer and Djokovic, and their first at Wimbledon.
Federer leads 14-12, but Djokovic won six of their last seven matches, including at the French Open a month ago.
"There's no secrets with those guys. They know how to play each other," said Federer's coach, Paul Annacone. "So it's really going to be who plays the bigger points better."
The other men's semi-final will be No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain against No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Neither has won a Grand Slam title or been to a Wimbledon final.
Cue 'Murray Mania', as it's known around these parts. He is trying to become the first British man to earn the trophy at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936; the last to even make it to the title match was Bunny Austin in 1938.
He was one point from facing a two-set deficit before coming back to eliminate No. 7 David Ferrer of Spain 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (4) to get to the semi-finals for the fourth year in a row. Murray lost at that stage to Andy Roddick in 2009, then to Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011 - and No. 2 Nadal's stunning exit in the second round last week ratcheted up expectations this would be Murray's year.
Tsonga, a finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, got to his second consecutive Wimbledon semi-final by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2. He's 1-5 against Murray, including a loss at Wimbledon two years ago.
In the women's semi-finals today, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams plays No. 2-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland faces No. 8 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams is a four-time Wimbledon winner; none of the other three women have reached the final. The 30-year-old American is trying to become the first woman at least that age to win any major title since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1990.