Champ Djokovic sets up Federer showdown

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LONDON, England, July 4- Novak Djokovic booked a Wimbledon semi-final showdown with Roger Federer as the defending champion crushed Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the last eight on Wednesday.

Djokovic recovered from a slow start to give a masterclass in the art of brutal baseline hitting and Mayer, the 31st seed, lacked the weapons to respond.

World number one Djokovic can now turn his attention to a ninth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearance, a feat surpassed by only Federer, Rod Laver and Ivan Lendl.

Djokovic’s solitary defeat in his last 33 Grand Slam matches came against Rafael Nadal in last month’s French Open final.

And with Nadal back home in Mallorca after his shock exit, Djokovic, who has beaten six-time Wimbledon champion Federer in their last three meetings including the semi-finals of the US and French Opens, must fancy his chances of extending his Grand Slam dominance to four titles from the last five majors.

Under ominious grey skies, Djokovic made a hesitant opening on Court One as Mayer broke for a 3-2 lead, but the Serbian top seed sprung into life with a break of his own in the next game.

After saving three break points following a 20-minute rain delay, Djokovic landed the crucial blow as he broke at 5-4 to take the first set.

Mayer, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals eight years ago before fitness and motivation problems prompted him to take time out of the game, emulated his boyhood hero Boris Becker with some spectacular diving volleys as he tried to keep Djokovic at bay in the second set.

But Djokovic — bidding to become the first man since Federer in 2007 to retain the Wimbledon title — was in the groove now and he unfurled a sublime crosscourt winner to break for a 3-1 lead before securing another break to take the second set.

Djokovic had worn Mayer down and the 25-year-old produced a blizzard of winners to break for a 5-4 lead before serving out the win.

Federer crushed Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to reach a record 32nd Grand Slam semi-final Wednesday and a clash with world number one Novak Djokovic for a place in the Wimbledon final.

The six-time champion, who had gone level with Jimmy Connors for Grand Slam semi-final excellence when he made the last four at the French Open last month, cruised to a 14th win in 14 meetings against the 26th seeded Russian.

Just as importantly for Federer, there were no no signs of the back pain which had dogged him in the fourth round against Xavier Malisse.

Federer, chasing Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles, also put an end to a worrying sequence at the All England Club where he had been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last two years.

“I played great. It was a big occasion for Mikhail, maybe my game suits up well against his. He was down in every set and that makes it difficult to play freely,” said Federer, who reached an eighth Wimbledon semi-final in front of Prince William and wife Catherine, watching from the Royal Box.

“It helps when royalty and other stars come to watch, it’s inspiring and a thrill and helps tennis.”

The Swiss great broke in the second and sixth games of the first set to claim the opener in 28 minutes while also breaking twice more in the second set, sealing it with an ace.

Youzhny, playing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final, had been defeated by Federer in the fourth round in 2011 where he had taken the first set before losing in four.

He was so dispirited that on his way to dropping serve again in the first game of the third set, he turned to the Centre Court Royal Box for help.

The 30-year-old appealed to tennis legends Rod Laver and Andre Agassi, who were watching from their privileged positions.

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