Andy Murray took care of business here yesterday with an emphatic straight-sets victory over Feliciano Lopez as one major obstacle to his ambition of winning Wimbledon was removed from his path. Roger Federer, six times a champion at the All England Club, went out in the quarter-finals for the second year in succession when he lost from two sets up for the first time in his Grand Slam career, beaten 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 by France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
While Tsonga goes on to face Novak Djokovic in tomorrow's semi-finals, Murray will meet Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, who beat him at the same stage last year and in the quarter-finals three years ago, winning both matches without losing a set. Nadal, who has won the title on his last two visits here, extended his winning run on these courts to 19 matches with a 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over the American Mardy Fish.
Murray needed just over two hours to beat Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The 29-year-old Spaniard appeared tired from his previous exertions in the tournament and never looked likely to stop Murray's progress to his third successive Wimbledon semi-final. "I thought it was good," Murray said afterwards.
"I think Feliciano was a little bit tired. He had a long match in the last round so he struggled a bit with his movement but I thought I served well for most of the match. I was a little bit tentative towards the end of the third set but it was good. I'm playing well. You get pushed more and more as the rounds go on. I'm sure in the next round I'll get pushed even harder and I'll have to up my game again. I've done well so far, but it only gets tougher so I'll need to get better.
"I've played well here. I've played better pretty much every year I've come here. I've lost in the semis the last two years and I want to go further, so I'm looking forward to the next match."
The only slight concern for Murray was a hip injury he appeared to suffer towards the end of the match as he twisted after hitting a backhand. "It just happens sometimes on the grass," he said. "You change direction and your feet can get caught a little bit, but I feel all right." He added: "I'll get treatment for it for sure. All these sorts of things happen during Grand Slams. I had problems during the French Open and the Australian Open. You just have to deal with them. All the players struggle. Rafa's had problems. Some people show them more than others."
Murray said he had been surprised by Federer's defeat. "His record here is incredible, but Tsonga's an exceptional player. He has a huge game on the grass. He served unbelievably and sometimes guys play too good. That happens sometimes at the top level of the sport. I don't think Roger played a bad match."
Federer tried to put his defeat in perspective. "At least it took a special performance from him to beat me," the former world No 1 said after the match. "He hung in there. I was controlling the match. Next thing you know, he just continued serving great, which for me was important to get at least a couple of chances. But the chances were slim and he only needed a couple of breaks to end up bringing it home. I thought my game was plenty good enough to win the tournament."
Djokovic beat the Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to reach his third Wimbledon semi-final. "I had to work hard for my points," he said. "In some periods of the match I was not feeling great, meaning I wasn't moving well."
Murray’s (probable) route to the title
Semi-finals: Rafael Nadal (Spain, aged 25, world No 1) Needed four sets to win his quarter-final with Mardy Fish yesterday. The defending champion has beaten Murray twice here in the last three years – without losing a set.
Final: Novak Djokovic (Serbia, aged 24, world No 2) Hard to call after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's heroics but the Serb is seeded higher and should await in the final should Murray beat Nadal. It would be a repeat of the Australian Open final.