(July 3, 2013) -- After starting his match falling down on the court in agony, Juan Martin Del Potro
ended it by lying flat on Centre Court - but this time in triumph.
That was after the Argentine posted a blistering performance that was equal parts guts and power, as he blasted through No. 4 seed David Ferrer
to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in his career.
Things did not look good at all for Del Potro in the opening game of the match. As he slid trying to chase down a Ferrer shot, Del Potro appeared to hyperextend his already heavily bandaged left knee. Del Potro took his time to recover before being given pain pills by a doctor. With that, Del Potro returned to the court, but few were sure he would be able to continue.
That he did, and on the strength of massive serving, Del Potro claimed the first set 6-2. Though his own movement was not as sharp, it didn't stop Del Potro from moving the always nimble Ferrer side to side before setting up yet another winner.
Unable to cope with Del Potro's power, Ferrer soon lost the second set when he netted a backhand while at the net.
The Spaniard found some success with a few down-the-line backhand winners of his own in the third set, but they did little to dent Del Potro's momentum. At this juncture, Del Potro was serving at over 70 percent first serves, and he continued to use that big serve to force a tiebreak.
Del Potro jumped out to an early lead, but Ferrer clawed his way back to 5-all. But two cannonball-like forehand winners from Del Potro - one on the dead run to set up match point and then a final down-the-line scorcher to end a 20-shot rally - sealed the 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(5) win.
Afterwards, Del Potro told the BBC he considered pulling out of the match after his earlier spill, but credited the "magic pills" the doctor gave him with helping to ease the pin.
"Big performance for me," Del Potro said. "I was so happy with my level at this moment. I beat one of the biggest players of the season."
Djokovic Sees Off Berdych, Reaches 13th Career Grand Slam Semifinal
Top seed Novak Djokovic
overcame a tense first set and an early second set letdown to secure safe passage into the semifinals.
Facing No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych,
Djokovic struggled early against the pace and serving from the tall Czech, who beat the World No. 1 in their last meeting in Rome.
But it was three untimely groundstroke errors in a row from Berdych that ultimately gave a relieved Djokovic the first set.
Djokovic suffered a bit of mental letdown in the first game of the second set and found himself broken at love. Berdych broke serve again to earn a 3-0 lead, but soon Djokovic steadied his game to pull back even.
The set went Djokovic's way when, down set point, Berdych bombed a big serve that Djokovic barely got over. What looked like an easy forehand winner for the Czech turned into disaster when he instead netted the shot, giving Djokovic a two sets to love lead.
From there, Djokovic took control and soon wrapped up the 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 win.
This is now Djokovic's 13th career Grand Slam semifinal.
"I'm playing my best grass court tennis now, which is good because it's not my preferred surface," Djokovic told the BBC.
With a rematch of their bronze medal match at last year's Summer Games, the semifinal between Del Potro and Djokovic is the first time in the Open era that both men have reached this stage of Wimbledon without having dropped a set.