But for Rafael Nadal’s unnatural exit — Lukas Rosol was other-worldly that day — the men’s side of the 2012 championships has played out as expected.
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer confirmed that they will meet in a fascinating semifinal that is glibly being sold thus: the greatest of all time versus the greatest of this time, on grass, which has never hosted a match of theirs before.
As long as Federer’s back doesn’t play up — which it didn’t in the quarterfinals — the pair appears nearly even on grass, with Djokovic having a slight edge. For, though Federer leads their overall head-to-head, Djokovic has won six of their last seven matches.
The other semifinal line-up took longer to be decided. But in the end, the favourites came through. Britain was nearly in despair before Andy Murray began to have the measure of David Ferrer in their quarterfinal. Ferrer, who played incredible counter-punching tennis, coerced Murray into finding his best. In a match of elaborate backcourt rallies conducted at breathtaking pace, Murray eventually outmanoeuvred and overpowered Ferrer.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was given a stern test by Philipp Kohlschreiber, who can make a persuasive argument that, at 5ft 10in and 154 pounds, he is the best pound-four-pound shot-makerin tennis today.
As Tsonga candidly admitted, he was outplayed by Kohlschreiber from the baseline. He also hardly had a look-in on a return game, till the fourth set. The Frenchman won a match decided by slim margins, a vital net-cord in one of two tie-break sets, and some typically inspired athletic tennis when he desperately needed it.
In terms of the draw, Kohlschreiber might have benefited the most from Nadal’s exit (though he did beat the Spaniard on grass in Halle), but he played tennis worthy of a semifinal spot. As for that matter did Ferrer, whose dismantling of Juan Martin Del Potro in the previous round was stunning. Both Murray and Tsonga will be looking to enter their first Wimbledon final, the biggest match in all of tennis. Then they’ll want to break through, win their first major. And Murray has had recent inspiration.
“LeBron James would be a good example,” said Murray. “He obviously is a great basketball player. He came very close to winning quite a lot of times. But winning this year for him, I’m sure, was massive. I would say, for me, I guess it’s a similar situation. I’ve been close a lot of times and not quite made it.”