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"I’ve been close a lot of times and not quite made it. Just have to keep putting myself in the position, and hopefully it will click," said Murray, the runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2008, and the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011. "There’s a lot of people that said he would never win. ... Sometimes it takes guys a bit longer than others."
Tsonga, a finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, got to his second consecutive Wimbledon semifinal by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Thursday, 6 a.m.
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He’s 1-5 against Murray, including a loss at Wimbledon two years ago.
In the women’s semifinals Thursday, 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 has 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.
Federer, who turns 31 on Aug. 8, has gone 2½ years without adding to his record total of 16 Grand Slam titles. And he hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2009, losing to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals two years ago, then Tsonga in the quarterfinals last year after taking the first two sets.
If he wins Sunday’s final to end his major trophy drought, the Swiss star would overtake Djokovic in the rankings and tie Sampras’ record of 186 weeks at No. 1.
"He definitely wants to prove himself — and to everybody else — that he can win it once again," Djokovic said. "We both have to play at our best in order to get a win."
The Serb is 43-2 with five titles at the last seven majors, with one loss to Federer and one to Nadal, both at the French Open.
"He showed why he’s the best player right now in the world. He left me no chance in the second set," Mayer said. "Roger also has to play on a really high level to have a chance to beat Novak."
Undisturbed by whipping wind or passing rain, Federer certainly looked good against Youzhny, who’s seen this act before: Federer has won all 14 of their matchups.
In the fourth round, Federer needed a medical timeout to get treatment for an aching back. Didn’t seem to be a problem at all Wednesday, when he won 49 of 66 service points.
"However it feels, if he plays like this, I’ll take that any day of the week," said Annacone, who also coached Sampras.
By the end of the second set, two-time U.S. Open semifinalist Youzhny was screaming at himself in Russian or throwing his arms aloft in mock celebration after winning the occasional point.
After Federer flicked one particularly impressive defensive backhand and got to break point in the third set’s opening game, Youzhny turned with his palms up to seek suggestions from Agassi, who smiled back. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge applauded. Youzhny, apparently pleased to play the role of court jester, promptly double-faulted.
When a reporter made a tongue-in-cheek remark about in-match coaching being against the rules, Youzhny grinned and said: "If he helped me, I’m ready to pay a fine."
Djokovic, at 25 the youngest quarterfinalist, seems to know exactly what to do against Federer, the oldest.
Into his ninth consecutive major semifinal, a streak that ranks fourth behind Federer’s record 23, Djokovic never had won a grass-court title until a year ago at Wimbledon.
That success, and his tremendous two-year run, fuel Djokovic’s confidence going into Friday’s matchup.
"We never played on grass," Djokovic noted, "so I think it’s going to be interesting for both of us to see what happens."
For the rest of us, too.
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