LONDON, England, July 3 – Novak Djokovic will face Juan Martin del Potro in the Wimbledon semi-finals after the world number one clinched his 13th consecutive Grand Slam last-four spot with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Tomas Berdych on Wednesday.
Djokovic is yet to drop a set in his five matches at this year’s tournament and the 2011 champion is now just two wins away from lifting the All England Club trophy for the second time.
Del Potro beat Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after surviving a nasty fall in the opening game, which left the Argentine eighth seed needing several minutes of treatment on a left knee already heavily bandaged.
Berdych had beaten Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010, but that was one of just two wins for the Czech seventh seed in their 15 meetings.
The losing streak always looked likely to continue once Djokovic took a tight first set in the tie-break, to the delight of Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, who was cheering on his fellow Serb from courtside.
Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam champion, recovered from 3-0 down in the second set and surged to victory in his 17th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearance.
“It was a close match, it could have gone either way,” Djokovic said.
“He was a double-break up in the second set. I don’t know how I got out of that, but I was serving and returning well.
“I have a commitment to go far in this tournament. I am playing some of my best tennis on grass even though it’s not my preferred surface,”
Berdych added: “I can play better than I played today. If you give him too much then it’s a lot.”
On Centre Court, Del Potro, 24, was clearly struggling to move at times, but he gritted his teeth through two hours and 16 minutes of gruelling action, unloading 42 winners and 12 aces to finally subdue the battling Spaniard.
It will be del Potro’s first Grand Slam semi-final appearance since his breakthrough triumph at the US Open four years ago.
Del Potro is just the second Argentine man to feature in the Wimbledon semi-finals, following in the footsteps of David Nalbandian in 2002.
Asked how close he was to pulling out, del Potro said: “Really close because I felt a lot of pain in the beginning of the match. It was exactly the same like I did before.
“It’s really, really painful. I twisted my knee once again but the doctor gave me some magic pills so I could finish the match and I’m so glad to go through.”
Ferrer revealed he had been struggling with an ankle injury before the match: “I wasn’t able to warm-up properly but it was fine during the match.
“I don’t think his injury affected him. He was more focused and aggressive, served really well and deserved to win.”
Later in Wednesday’s quarter-final action, Andy Murray will aim to reach his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final when he faces unseeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
World number two Murray, beaten by Roger Federer in last year’s final, has won his last 15 matches on grass and is yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament.
Murray could count on the support of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who was in the royal box after watching several of his fellow Scot’s matches en route to his maiden Grand Slam triumph at the US Open last year.
Murray or Verdasco will face the winner of the first ever all-Polish Grand Slam match between 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot.
Both the big-serving Janowicz, 22, and Kubot, 31, are making their first appearances in the last eight of a major, giving Poland a guaranteed first male Grand Slam semi-finalist
At 130 in the world, Kubot is the lowest ranked player left in the draw.