Federer and Djokovic stay on course

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic remained on a Wimbledon semi-final collision course but they were the lucky ones as rain frustrated the men on fourth-round day yesterday.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic remained on a Wimbledon semi-final collision course but they were the lucky ones as rain frustrated the men on fourth-round day yesterday.

While defending champion Djokovic and six-time winner Federer will spend today preparing for their last-eight ties tomorrow, the rest of the draw - Mikhail Youzhny apart – will be toiling to join them.

When play was officially called off just before 8pm owing to the elements, five fourth-round ties had still to either start or be completed, with the likes of Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga among those kicking their heels.

They are now faced with the prospect of playing two days in a row, but their issues will be of little concern to Federer and Djokovic.

Of genuine worry to Federer today was his fitness, although he insists will be ready to continue his fight for a seventh title despite suffering a back injury en route to victory over Xavier Malisse.

Federer took a medical time-out after feeling a twinge in his back following the eighth game of the first set.

The third seed moved gingerly afterwards, but he still managed to record a 7-6 (7/1) 6-1 4-6 6-3 win that ensured his passage to a 33rd consecutive grand slam quarter-final.

The 30-year-old Swiss player thinks a combination of today’s cold weather, and his five-set win over Julien Benneteau in the third round, could have caused his injury.

He is confident the problem will have cleared up by the time he faces Youzhny tomorrow..

“I’m not too worried about it,” Federer said.

“Two good nights’ sleep and I’m pretty convinced I’ll be 100% on Wednesday.

“Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to pull off the win the way I did today.

“I just felt it go at the start of the first set so I decided to have medical treatment.

“I’ve had bad backs over the years. They go as quick as they come.”

Youzhny was a five-set winner over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on Court 18, 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-7 (7/5) 7-5.

There were no such marathons in store for Djokovic, who kept it nice and simple against Viktor Troicki under the Centre Court roof last night, taking just 90 minutes to book his place in the quarter-finals.

The Serbian defending champion looked the most comfortable he has since starting the defence of his title a week ago, posting a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory.

He can now begin his preparations for a last-eight tie against the winner of the match with Richard Gasquet and Florian Meyer, safe in the knowledge plenty of his title rivals have yet to complete their fourth-round exchanges.

Despite appearances, Djokovic insisted afterwards that it was not such an easy match.

“It’s never straightforward,” he said. “You focus on every point because the players are tough and you always expect your opponent to fight.

“Me and Viktor know each other so well. When we first played I was nine and he was eight. There are no secrets between us but today there had to be a loser.

“I think I have played well in my last three matches, all under the roof, so I don’t know what it will be in the next challenge.”

Murray will return to Court One today a set and a break up on Marin Cilic, while Tsonga will be looking to overturn a one-set deficit against Mardy Fish on Court Two. Mayer also leads Gasquet by one set to love.

David Ferrer and Del Potro are still to start but weather permitting will open Centre Court at 12pm, while Brian Baker and Philipp Kohlschreiber will start from scratch at 11.30am on Court 12.

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