Djokovic into 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia does the splits after playing a return to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic during a Men’s singles quarterfinal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. AP Photo

LONDON — World number one Novak Djokovic reached his 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Djokovic, the 2011 champion, will face Juan Martin del Potro — the Argentine eighth seed, who put out Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) — for a place in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic will go into the semis not having dropped a set in the tournament while holding an 8-3 winning stranglehold against Del Potro.

Wednesday’s win was the 26-year-old Djokovic’s 14th in 16 career meetings with Berdych as he romped to victory despite having slipped a double-break down at 0-3 in the second set.

“It was a strong start from me. I had a few break points in the opening game but didn’t manage to take them. The set was decided by just one mistake in the tiebreak,” said Djokovic, who fired 16 aces and 36 winners.

“It was a close match, it could have gone either way. He was a double-break up in the second set. I don’t know how I got out of that, but I was serving and returning well.

“I have a commitment to go far in this tournament. I am playing some of my best tennis on grass even though it’s not my preferred surface,” added the Serb, who holds six Grand Slam titles.

Top seed Djokovic, in his 17th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, played the more composed tie-break to take the opening set, much to the delight of compatriot and Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic, who was watching from his box.

That indicated that the world number one was comfortably on his way with Berdych living off scraps. In the entire first set, Djokovic gave up just two unforced errors.

Berdych, who beat Djokovic in the semifinals in 2010 when he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal, quickly regathered his composure, carving out back-to-back breaks for 3-0.

But his audacity came at a cost as Djokovic retrieved the breaks in a flash for 3-3 and then held for 4-3 before taking a two-sets to love lead when the 27-year-old Czech dumped a weary forehand into the net.

A break in the fourth game of the third set gave Djokovic a 3-1 lead which became 4-1 with a solid hold.

At that stage, the Serb had won 10 of 12 games and Berdych could find no response in the dying stages.

“I can play better than I played today. If you give him too much then it’s a lot,” admitted Berdych.

“So you have to play really on the limit, playing really great to have a chance to beat him. That was not my case today.”

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