Roger Federer prepares to hit a backhard return against Mikhail Youzhny… (Leon Neal / Getty Images )
WIMBLEDON, England -- Showing no signs of an achy back that had seemed to bother him in the fourth round, six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer did something he hadn't been able to do the last two years. Federer didn't lose in the quarterfinals.
Bothered by nothing Wednesday, not even a brief rain delay and certainly not by his opponent, Federer advanced to his eighth Wimbledon semifinal appearance with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory in only 1 hour 32 minutes over 26th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Just before the third set began, the 30-year-old Youzhny turned to the Royal Box and pleaded for advice. The box was filled with real and tennis royalty. Prince Charles and Kate Middleton were there but so were past Wimbledon champions Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. Agassi smiled and shrugged at Youzhny, as if to say, "Good lucky, buddy."
Even with dark clouds above to start the match on Centre Court, the roof was left open and so there was an inevitable rain delay with Federer leading 4-1 in the first set. But the delay didn't last long and only once during the match did Youzhny come close to making Federer worry.
In the fourth game of the third set Youzhny had two break-point chances on Federer's serve. The first was saved when Youzhny slammed a backhand return into the net. The Russian bellowed in frustration and seemed to be resigned to the result after that.
In Friday's semifinals Federer will play top-seeded and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who beat 31st-seeded German Florian Mayer, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Djokovic served a final ace then pounded his chest.
Federer, now 14-0 against Youzhny after he advanced into his 32nd Grand Slam semifinal, said, "I thought I played great today. My game maybe suits up well against him. I'm extremely happy to be back in the semifinals." He also took note of the famously-populated Royal Box. "I think it helps when royalty shows up, and other legends of the game. I think it's inspiring."
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