Wimbledon: Federer to test Murray’s calm demeanour

Djokovic ominously moving into top gear after surviving wobble in fourth round

The local hope against the greatest player in history on one side and on the other, the world number one against a veteran who is hoping to become the first French Wimbledon champion since Yvon Petra in 1946.

The issue befuddling everyone is how Roger Federer and Andy Murray will react to each other. Both have had a relatively easy passage to the semi-finals. Murray knows Federer's challenge will be more elegant than his previous opponents. The Swiss player, whose game so far has been pristine, appears to have rolled back the years for what might be his final challenge for the title.

Seven wins

The last of Federer’s seven wins here, against Murray in 2012, may have no bearing on Friday but his form will.

Murray has shown no capacity, as he has in the past, for self-inflicted wounds and has been as ruthless as his rival. There is also calm around the Scottish player. In the past a frenzy developed around him, which cranked up the pressure. This year there is less hope, more surety, less raging at the gods and more focus on getting on and then off court. Those things he may have learned from the master.

Murray hasn’t lost a grass match this year but in his passage to the semi-finals all five opponents have been ranked outside the top 20. Contrast that set of threats with those borne by the current world number two, who has beaten Murray in the finals of the Australian Open 2010, US Open 2008 and Wimbledon 2012.

Federer has also won their last three matches and most recently, at the O2 Arena in London in November, handed Murray his biggest defeat, 6-0 6-1, on the tour for more than seven years. Neither Murray nor Federer are giving that meeting much significance.

“I felt quite calm about it,” said Murray after beating Pospisil. “The scoreline was obviously embarrassing.”

Federer, probably open for a job as head of the diplomatic corps in the United Nations, when he retires, provided credible excuses for Murray.

“He had won three tournaments back to back,” said Federer. “I think when I played him he was a bit cooked to be honest. I played a great match but it was not the Andy that usually shows up.”

But these verbal exchanges, cordial as they are, always have the next match in mind more than the last.

Novak Djokovic's short work of Marin Cilic should worry everyone. Traditionally the big names have a serious wobble and, if they make it through, find their regular game.

Djokovic had his scare from Kevin Anderson and against Cilic, the effortless excellence of the Serb returned.

Djokovic broke the ferocious Cilic serve once in each set and, with it, the man.

Reputation

Richard Gasquet will provide a beautiful backhand but his reputation is to choke, not that he did against Stan Wawrinka. "It will always be incredible players you face in semi-finals," he said.

The Frenchman knows what waits for him, the work-rate he will need and the hammered-home truth that you have to beat the world number one at least twice to earn every point. Djokovic is bidding for his fourth Wimbledon final and his 12th win against Gasquet in 13 outings.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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