The point of victory arrived almost simultaneously, Novak Djokovic waving to the crowd on no.1 Court just as Martin Del Potro was lying prone on Centre in celebration after beating David Ferrer. It will take something of that order of brilliance from Del Potro to stop the Djoko juggernaut in the semis after another compelling demonstration of the tennis arts against Tomas Berdych.
For a set at least this match was tight as a drum. The first was decided in the coconut shy of tie-break combat. Berdych achieved the first mini break to lead 4-3, but surrendered it immediately. At 5-6 he was serving to save the set and failed, bringing Manchester United footballer, Nemanja Vidic, to his feet to applaud the fist-pumping Djokovic below.
The pair had met only once previously, but when a ‘brother’ is in action, a Serb must answer the call. Vidic had been seated in the Royal Box on Centre Court, but deserted his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson to dash across the main concourse when he realised his compatriot was starring on Court No.1.
That’s loyalty for you. Berdych responded by breaking Djokovic in the first game of the second set. He would break again in the third game to take a 3-0 lead, the platform you might think to strike out for the high ground, the territory occupied by Djokovic.
There is a reason why Djokovic and his ilk are breed apart, and that was made immediately apparent with a quite ruthless transformation. Djokovic went up half a dozen gears and in the time it took for a pot of tea to brew was 4-3 in front. Berdych didn’t know what was happening or where he was. He had no means with which to respond. Djokovic cleaned up the set.
His opponent’s soul in bits all over the court, the third set was a routine affair, Djokovic booking his place in the semi-finals with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. “It was a strong start from me today,” he said. “The tie break was decided by one mistake he made at 6-5. It could have gone either way. He was a double break up in the second, so he could easily have been two sets up. I don’t know how I turned it around.”
Here’s how, in his own words. “I have the right commitment. I have been dedicated to go far in this tournament, playing some of my best tennis on grass. I have won this tournament before (2011) and want to win it again.”
And all this in front of the grand Vidic. “I was glad he called to come. I have met him only once. He is a great champion. We are very proud of his achievements in football. He came with his wife and I was pleased to see him up there.”