Berdych derails Fed express

TOMAS BERDYCH is on a roll as he prepares for his first Wimbledon semi-final.

The 24-year-old world number 13 produced the latest shock of the Championships by knocking out defending champion Roger Federer and will face Novak Djokovic tomorrow for a place in the final.

Berdych, who is hoping to become the first Czech men’s champion at Wimbledon since Jan Kodes in 1973, had never been past the quarter-finals in six previous visits to Wimbledon but he believes he is in the best form of his career.

He ended an eight-match losing run against Federer in Miami in March and earlier this month achieved his best grand slam run by reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros.

“It’s not only about the last two weeks,” he said after posting a 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 victory. “I got confidence from a couple of matches at the beginning of the year and then it keeps going and going.

“It started I would say in the United States, in Indian Wells and Miami, so it’s quite long ago.

“You get more and more experience and I get a little bit more focused, mentally stronger than before.”

Federer could not handle Berdych’s booming serve and his clinical forehands as he joined last year’s runner-up Andy Roddick on the sidelines, leaving his conqueror to prepare for another big test.

Berdych has lost both previous meetings with Djokovic but insists he is a much-improved player now.

“It’s not that important how he’s going to play, the important thing is what my game is going to be,” he said. “That’s what I said before the match against Roger and it worked.

“I’m going to try to do the same on Friday, to be 100% ready to concentrate.”

Third-seeded Djokovic said he would “give everything” to reach the final after romping to an easy victory against Yen-Hsun Lu.

The third seed was imperious as he ended Lu’s fairytale run at the quarter-final stage with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory that secured his first semi-final since 2007. Taiwan number one Lu caused a huge shock in the previous round to oust Roddick but was outclassed yesterday and is already looking for an opportunity to put the record straight.

“I’d like to come back here again next year,” Lu said. “And I hope I can play against Djokovic again.”

Djokovic did not have to defend a single break point as he pushed his performance levels close to those which took him to the Australian Open title in 2008 but he will be taking nothing for granted against Berdych.

“Obviously, both of us, we going to have a great motivation to proceed to the next round and final,” said Djokovic.

“For him, that would be a first final, for me, a third. But still, I would give everything to play the final in Wimbledon.

“Berdych is a player who won against Roger in four sets. We cannot forget that. He’s going go for the shots. I think he has not much to lose.”

Despite the exit of Federer, three of the men’s top four seeds will contest Friday’s semi-finals.

Britain’s Andy Murray dropped his first set of the Championships but fought back to beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 6-2 to set up a mouthwatering clash with world number one Rafael Nadal.

The fourth seed looked in danger throughout the first two sets as he fought to withstand a barrage of power. But coming through a tense tie-break to level the match, with some help from a huge Tsonga misjudgement, ultimately proved the turning point.

Murray then broke serve after an epic game early in the third set before running away with the match as Tsonga battled body and mind.

“It was a really tough first couple of sets,” said Murray. “He was going for huge shots on both sides. But I played very well in the last couple of sets.”

Nadal bounced back from the shock of losing the first five games of his quarter-final against Robin Soderling to win 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-1.

The 2008 champion was one point away from being on the end of a first-set whitewash before gradually getting on top and showed little sign of the knee problem that flared in the first week of the tournament.

“Being in the semi-final of Wimbledon is great for me, it’s a very important moment in the season for me,” said.

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