Del Potro to meet Djokivic

By on July 3, 2013

Juan Martin del Potro

Brave … Juan Martin Del Potro serves during his gutsy quarter-final win over David Ferrer. Source: Getty Images

Juan Martin del Potro has posted one of the bravest and most unlikely grand slam victories of an injury-interrupted career to sweep into the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Earning a tilt at world No.1 Novak Djokovic, del Potro aggravated a knee injury only seven points into the quarter-finals before surging to 6-2 6-4 7-6 (7-5) truimph over David Ferrer.

The baseliner is the first Argentine to reach the All England Club’s last four since David Nalbanian in 2002.

His prospects of even surviving against world No.4 Ferrer were decidely remote after he fell in the opening game of the match.

But he recovered – mentally and physically – to monster Ferrer, ending the match with rasping forehand winner.

“I was really close (to retiring),” del Potro said post-match.

“I felt a lot of pain in the beginning of the match. The knee is really painful and the pain is in the same place as before.

“I twist my knee and I (thought I) could not finish the match.

“I am so happy, I play my best tennis of the tournament.”

Djokovic destroyed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-5)  6-4 6-3 to reach his 13th consecutive grand slam semi-final.

The world No.1 edged away from Berdych after a tense first set, regrouped from a double-break deficit in the second before striding clear in the third set.

Preserving a perfect 2013 Wimbledon record of not conceding a set, the Serb again scarred Berdych’s dubious self-belief.

Berdych has rarely played as well, yet a searing second-set burst was followed by a signature fade-out against the sport’s best athlete.

Djokovic was amazed to have overcome Berdych in straight sets.

“It was a very close match in the beginning,” he said. “Both those sets could have gone either way.

“Tomas could have won both those sets. To be honest, I don’t know how I turned it around.”

The unspoken answer was: class.

While Djokovic was clinical and measured, del Potro was sensational.

He clouted 22 ballistic forehand winners to maul Ferrer’s increasingly ineffectual defence.

Already sporting a bandage above and below his left knee, del Potro slipped as he chased a wide backhand.

His knee buckled under him and then straightened abruptly as he attempted to prop and hustle back to the centre of the baseline.

A doctor was called and, after animated discussion over various treatments, del Potro continued with the benefit of what he joked were “magic pills.”

Amazingly, he won five of the following six games as Ferrer self-imploded with unforced error.

Watched from the Royal Box by Rod Laver, Sir Alex Ferguson and Manuel Santana, del Potro raw courage saw the Argentine pocket the first set after 45 minutes.

But, even when leading, the US Open winner’s body language was negative as he walked gingerly between points and sat with head bowed at changeovers.

Del Potro’s hangdog expression was in total contrast to sizzling tennis.

His forehand – revered in the locker-room as the “fearhand” – constantly unbalanced terrier-like Ferrer and his monstrous serve was just as devastating.

And when the Argentine claimed another service break in the ninth game of the second set, the signs were all bad for Ferrer.

Having comfortably eased to a two-sets buffer, del Potro had the match under control at 4-1 in the tiebreak.

He twice blundered attempting to kill off Ferrer before sealing the match with a rifled forehand that found the far corner.

The winner of the Djokovic-del Potro clash will face either Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Lukasz Kubot or Jerzy Janowicz in Sunday’s final.


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