WIMBLEDON – MEN’S QUARTER-FINALS
ATP royalty took their accustomed places in the semi-finals at Wimbledon on Wednesday, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic rolling over out-matched opponents.
Eight-time champion Federer reached his Wimbledon victory century as he tamed Japan’s Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Nadal beat American Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and top seed Djokovic demolished David Goffin 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
The old-guard trio who have shown zero signs of fading away, reached a Grand Slam semi-final at the same event for only the second time after doing it a dozen years ago here.
At that edition, Nadal beat Djokovic in a semi-final before losing the final to Federer.
With the success of the old stagers, the average age of the semi-finalists stayed above 30, a record in the Open era.
Federer took a set to get adjusted against Nishikori before powering through for his eighth victory over Asia’s top player, the first Japanese he has ever faced here.
“It was a difficult start, brutal,” 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer said. “Kei came out and was smashing winners.
“I had to make adjustments to stay with him. I had some small chances in the first set, but he was the better player.
“In the second set it was important to get the lead and protect it. At one set each, it started to feel more like a normal match.”
The Swiss credited his serving – 12 aces four breaks of serve – for seeing him through to his 13th semi-final here.
He said he’s not been aware that he was playing for a 100th match win at the club, but was reminded post-match by a fan while signing autographs.
Federer and Nadal will square off in another chapter of their historic rivallry, with the Spaniard winning the last match-up a month ago in a Roland Garros semi-final.
“We have a lot of information on Rafa and he has a lot on us,” Federer said. “You can spend hours going over strategy.
“Or you can say it’s a grass match and come out to play attacking tennis. If he can defend, then too good – if not, then good for me.
“These matches are always hyped up, like in Paris. But I loved playing on Rafa’s (clay) court and I’d love to play him here.
“I’ll go about it just like for any other match. We’ve been paying each other a long time on this surface. he’s really improved on it.”
Nadal needed almost an hour to establish dominance over Querrey before going into gear and claiming his straight-sets win for his seventh semi-final here.
“I’m very happy to e in another semi,” the third seed said, “I played a good match against a very difficult opponent.
“I got out of a few dangerous situations at the end of the first set, but then I started playing better and better.
“It’s exciting to be playing Roger again.”
Federer and Nadal last faced off at the tournament in the 2008 final which the Spaniard won as darkness fell in one of the iconic matches in the history of the sport.
Djokovic ripped to his sixth defeat of Goffin in their seven career meetings, as he took revenge for a Monte Carlo loss to the Belgian two years ago.
After working to get fully acclimated at the start and going down an early break, Djokovic swept nine games on the trot to take a two-set lead in a quick momentum shift.
The one-direction contest remained all about Djokovic to the conclusion, with the top seed, galloping into the final four for the ninth time here.
Djokovic secured victory in just under two hours as Goffin sliced a return wide.
“He started well, dictating form the baseline,” Djokovic said. “Most of the rallies were going his way.
“If I’d lost the first set, things could have gone differently. But I’m pleased with how I played, especially in the second and third sets.
“I managed to dismantle his game. This result is what I wanted and needed, I hope I can keep going in the right direction.”
The Serb with four Wimbledon trophies will play Roberto Bautista Agut in a semi-final after the Spaniard defeated Guido Pella of Argentina 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Bautista Agut came into the quarters not having dropped a set but was unable to maintain that perfect record against Pella.
Bautista Agut has defeated Djokovic twice already this season and becomes the sixth Spanish man to get this far at Wimbledon.
Joining Nadal in the last four marks the first time two Spaniards have ever gone this far at Wimbledon.
“He has a solid game and doesn’t make too many mistakes,” Djokovic said.
“He’s a very consistent and focussed player.”
Butista Agut may be making some alternative travel arrangements as he misses his bachelor party which was scheduled on the island of Mallorca this weekend.
Instead, he said his group of friends already there for the now-interrupted festivities will likely just come up to London for his career-first Grand Slam semi-final