The way things have been going at the All England Club this fortnight, that’s quite an accomplishment.
Rafael Nadal, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, was beaten in the first round. Roger Federer, owner of a record 17 major titles, went out in the second, as did four-time major champ Maria Sharapova. Five-time Wimbledon winner Serena Williams’ 34-match winning streak ended in the fourth round.
And on and on it’s gone, with no top-20 player other than Murray left on his side of the draw, and a record-equaling number of withdrawals or mid-match retirements because of health problems.
“Everyone was a bit on edge, a little bit uptight,” reigning U.S. Open champion Murray acknowledged, “because of what was happening with the injuries, withdrawals, upsets and stuff.”
He and Djokovic have made it all look so routine, though, heading into the men’s quarterfinals Wednesday.
On the top half of the bracket, Djokovic — a six-time Grand Slam titlist and the only remaining past Wimbledon winner — will face No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 2010 runner-up. No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain plays No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, the 2009 U.S. Open champion and the third man who hasn’t dropped a set through four matches.
On the bottom half, it will be Murray against 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain, and No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz against his Davis Cup teammate and pal, 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot, in a match between the first two Polish men to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 1980.
“Magical,” Janowicz said.
In keeping with the unpredictable nature of the tournament, whoever wins the women’s title will be a first-time Grand Slam champion. Thursday’s semifinals are 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland against 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany (who beat Williams on Monday), and 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli of France against 20th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
“I feel good about myself in this moment. I think I actually play a better tennis on grass than I played two years ago, when I won this tournament,” said Djokovic, who never before had won every set he played in five previous trips to the Wimbledon quarterfinals. “For now, I’m feeling good. I’m No. 1 of the world. I have no reason to be concerned about my game.”
He is bidding to reach the semifinals for a 13th consecutive Slam, the second-longest streak in men’s tennis history, behind only Federer’s 23-semifinal run.