Wimbledon 2013: All systems go for friends Murray and Djokovic to be reunited in another Slam final

Paul Newman gives his half-term report on a tournament which has produced plenty of surprises but still looks like winding up to a familiar conclusion

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have contested two of the last three Grand Slam finals – the Scot won in New York and the Serb in Melbourne – and on the basis of their form here so far the boyhood friends and rivals are heading for another confrontation. Both have reached the fourth round without dropping a set.

Live blog: Click here for game-by-game coverage as Laura Robson attempts to reach the quarter-finals with a victory over Kaia Kanepi followed by Andy Murray against Mikhail Youzhny

Murray has looked rock-solid in his first three matches and gave his best display yet when beating Tommy Robredo on Friday. He has stayed focused on his task – there was barely a scowl all week – and shown what a great all-round game he has on grass. Djokovic, however, looked even better in defeating Jérémy Chardy on Saturday, dropping just six points on his own serve and making only three unforced errors.

Of the other top men, David Ferrer has struggled through his matches, but Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro are major threats in Djokovic's half of the draw. Jerzy Janowicz, the world No 22, is the highest-ranked player left in Murray's section.

... and the women

Who can stop Serena Williams? The defending champion has extended her current winning streak to 34 matches and is looking better than ever. There has been little sign of nerves – which there were 12 months ago – and Williams has been winning her matches with plenty to spare.

The world No 1's biggest potential rivals, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, both made early exits, which leaves Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4 and last year's runner-up, as the next highest-ranked player in the draw. Radwanska's inventive game can trouble the very best, but if she meets Williams in the semi-finals she will surely need to play the match of her life to survive.

Li Na and Petra Kvitova are the only other top 10 players left in the field. Only four top 10 women's seeds made the third round, the fewest at any Grand Slam tournament in the Open era. Li is not always convincing on grass and has been taken to three sets in her last two matches by opponents she would expect to beat comfortably on other surfaces. Kvitova has not impressed in the first week and will need to improve quickly if she is to repeat her 2011 triumph, but if she finds her form she has the game to beat anyone.

Comeback kings and queens

When Tommy Haas began his latest comeback from injury two years ago he was ranked No 896 in the world. At the age of 35 he is back up to No 13 and playing some of the best tennis since he got to No 2 in 2002. Italy's Flavia Pennetta is his counterpart in the women's draw. The 31-year-old Italian, a former top 10 player, is currently No 166 in the world rankings after her own struggles with injury but is through to the fourth round here for the first time for seven years.

At 20, Bernard Tomic may be rather young to be making a comeback, but the Australian has put a difficult time behind him to reach the fourth round. Despite all the controversy surrounding his father, who is banned from the grounds of the All England Club following his physical confrontation with his son's hitting partner in Madrid in May, Tomic has rediscovered the talent which makes him one of the most exciting young players in the game.

Golden oldies

Much of the first week was a triumph for experience over youth. The men's game, in particular, has become so physical that strength and stamina are often decisive. Five of the last 16 in the men's draw and four in the women's are over the age of 30. Nobody has flown the flag for the older generation more impressively than Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, who at the age of 42 years and 281 days became the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the Open era. The previous oldest was 39-year-old Virginia Wade in 1985.

Upset of the first week

Honourable mentions go to Steve Darcis (who beat Rafael Nadal), Michelle Larcher de Brito (who knocked out Maria Sharapova) and Eugenie Bouchard (who took out Ana Ivanovic), but there was no greater giant-killer than Sergiy Stakhovsky. The Ukrainian beat Roger Federer playing old-fashioned serve-and-volley to cause one of the greatest shocks in Wimbledon history, only to lose to Jürgen Melzer in the next round.

Newcomer of the week

Kenny de Schepper, a big-hitting Frenchman, has sprung from nowhere to earn a place in the last 16, but who had heard of Monica Puig a week ago? The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico, who made her Grand Slam debut at this year's French Open, shocked Sara Errani, the world No 5, in the first round and has built on that result to reach the last 16. The Independent's Nick Bollettieri has been helping to guide her and thinks she could have a big future.

The American nightmare

Eleven American men started the men's singles competition and none made it to the third round. It was the first time for 101 years that no American man reached the third round.

The grass is alway greener (in the first week)

By the end of the third round there had been 13 retirements or walkovers, which equals the Open era Wimbledon record, set in 2008. Some observers –and one or two players – were quick to suggest that the number of injuries was down to the condition of the courts, but the suspicion is that this has simply been a freakish year. In the first week at Wimbledon the courts are always green and a little slippery. Croatia's Ivan Dodig is not complaining: he is through to the fourth round after two of his first three opponents retired with injury.

On schedule

After a rain-interrupted week Andrew Jarrett, the tournament referee, did a good job to get the third round completed by Saturday night, though it has helped that there have not been many five-set matches in the men's draw. There were only 12 five-set matches in the first two rounds, which was the fewest here in the Open era. The previous fewest was 13 in 1981. The most was 26 in both 1969 and 1994.

Live blog: Click here for game-by-game coverage as Laura Robson attempts to reach the quarter-finals with a victory over Kaia Kanepi followed by Andy Murray against Mikhail Youzhny

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary