Five-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer reached his 21st consecutive Grand Slam semi-final yesterday with a majestic 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) win over giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
Federer, bidding for a sixth All England Club title and a record 15th major, will now tackle either German veteran Tommy Haas or Serbian fourth seed Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final.
Haas, the oldest man left in the draw at 31, pushed Federer to the brink of defeat at the French Open when he took a two-sets lead.
“It’s difficult against Karlovic because there aren’t many baseline rallies on his serve or mine,” said Federer after his one hour, 42 minute win.
“You expect a tough scoreline all the time, it’s not easy to break him we know that so I am happy to have broken him twice and won the match,” Federer said in a courtside interview.
“I love the record I have, reaching so many grand slam semis in a row. Twenty one is quite a number and it shows how consistent I have been, how injury-free I have been to keep it up for such a long time,” Federer said.
Going into yesterday’s clash, Karlovic hadn’t dropped serve in the tournament, winning 79 service games in four rounds and facing just four break points.
But second seed Federer ended that streak in the fourth game when a sumptuous backhand return followed by a sublime forehand pass gave him the first break against the 2.08m Croatian to lead 3-1.
That quickly became 4-1 against a player he had already defeated eight times in nine matches.
Federer wrapped up the opening set after 23 minutes having conceded just three points in four service games.
By comparison, 30-year-old Karlovic, the 22nd seed, suffered a dramatic powercut.
Having fired a huge 137 aces in four matches to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final, he managed just three in the first set.
Federer broke again to lead 6-5 in the second set courtesy of a stunning backhand return off a power-packed Karlovic first serve followed by a deft forehand which the Croatian could only push wide.
The Swiss, having conceded just four more points on his serve, took the set in the next game after only an hour on court when Karlovic went long with a return.
Service dominated the third set with Karlovic upping his ace count to 23 while Federer leaked just another four points off his own serve.
The world No. 2 dominated the tie-break, stretching to a 5-2 lead before romping into a seventh successive Wimbledon semi-final with another sweeping forehand.
The Swiss ace has only dropped one set in the tournament to date, during a second round clash with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Later yesterday, Andy Murray was due to take on Spain’s former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Tickets for the men’s quarter-finals on Centre Court were changing hands for up to £1,750 (US$2,874) on the Internet as interest in Murray’s bid reached fever pitch.
Ferrero, a former world No. 1, is the first wildcard to make the quarter-finals since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001, the year the Croatian went on to win the title.
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, was to face two-time runner-up Andy Roddick in the other quarter-final with the winner facing either Murray or Ferrero for a place in Sunday’s final.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles yesterday after she and partner Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe beat Taiwanese Chuang Chia-jung and Christopher Kas of Germany 6-3, 6-2.