WIMBLEDON, England — After curling in a 102 mph ace to grab a two-set lead a mere 56 minutes into his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, 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 energized jog to the sideline.
There still was work to be done; nothing to be taken for granted. Motivated by the bitter memory of quarterfinal 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 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his record 32nd career Grand Slam semifinal.
“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.”
He’s two wins away from a seventh Wimbledon championship, which would equal a mark set by William Renshaw in the 1880s — back when the defending champion received a bye directly into the final - and tied by Pete Sampras in 2000.
Federer will face a familiar foe Friday: 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 quarterfinals.
This will be the sixth semifinal 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 past seven matches, including at the French Open a month ago.
The other men’s semifinal will be No. 4 Andy Murray against No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Neither has won a Grand Slam title or been to a Wimbledon final.
Murray 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.
Murray was one point from facing a two-set deficit before coming back to eliminate No. 7 David Ferrer 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to get to the semifinals 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.
Tsonga, a finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, got to his second consecutive Wimbledon semifinal by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
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, and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska faces No. 8 Angelique Kerber. 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.