Wimbledon, Day 9: Federer Upset By Berdych; Murray, Nadal Will Meet In Semifinal

SB Nation's Ben Rothenberg breaks down Wednesday's Gentlemen's Singles quarterfinal action on Day 8 of Wimbledon 2010.

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Wimbledon: No. 4 Andy Murray Starts Slow, But Finishes Fast Against No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

After a slow, somewhat passive start, No.4 Andy Murray has kept British hopes alive with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-2 over No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Centre Court, finishing up the Gentlemen’s Singles quarterfinals with an eventually convincing win.

This match completely swung in the second set tiebreak, with Tsonga making an enormous mistake by letting an easy Murray ball go past him, where it landed on the baseline. Murray morphed into his ridiculously fired up self from then on, and Tsonga never recovered.

So the semifinals are now set. Tomas Berdych vs. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal. Whoever wins the second final will be the heavy favorite in the final, but that really hasn’t meant anything so far.

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Wimbledon: No. 2 Rafael Nadal Survives Early Test, Beats No. 6 Robin Soderling In Four Sets

No. 2 Rafael Nadal rallied for a convincing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1 over No. 6 Robin Soderling, patiently neutralizing the Swede’s superior power with tremendous depth and point construction.

A Soderling injury timeout followed by an immediate break of Nadal’s serve seemed to swing the momentum late in the third set, but Nadal convincingly won the ensuing tiebreak and ran away with the fourth.

An interesting subplot to this match could be how the news of Federer’s exit from the tournament swung the momentum. At roughly the time Federer’s losing score would have been posted on the Court 1 scoreboard, Soderling was leading 5-0. But from there on, it was all Nadal.

Did Soderling get tight seeing how the draw had opened up? Did Nadal realize the enormity of this opportunity? Both? In any event, it’s a possible storyline to consider.

With the win, Nadal becomes the clear favorite to take this title. Murray has beaten him in their last two encounters at slams, though, so his front-runner status is nowhere near as clear as Serena’s is on the Ladies’ side.

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Wimbledon: Loss Drops Roger Federer To No. 3 In ATP Rankings

With his loss to No. 12 Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, No. 1 seed Roger Federer will fall to the No. 3 spot in the ATP rankings, his lowest ranking since November 2003.

Federer was ranked No. 2 in the ATP rankings coming into Wimbledon, but was seeded No. 1 ahead of ATP No. 1 Rafael Nadal due to his superior grass court results over the previous twenty-four months.

Federer is still defending champion points at Cincinnati, finalist points at the US Open, and champion points at the Australian. Any poor performance at one of those tournaments could see him drop to No. 4 or even No. 5, depending on how No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 6 Robin Soderling perform in the rest of this tournament and beyond.

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Wimbledon: No. 12 Tomas Berdych Closes Out Massive Upset Of No. 1 Roger Federer In Four Sets

No. 12 Tomas Berdych survived a huge test in the final game of the match, but hung on to hold serve and close out the biggest win of his career, a four-set upset of No. 1 Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon, by the score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The final game didn’t start promisingly for Berdych. Federer quickly went up 15-30 with a perfect backhand passing shot up the line.

Berdych responded well, leveling the game at 30-30 with a forehand volley winner to close out a long rally.

An unreturnable serve to Federer’s forehand on the next gave Berdych his first match point at 40-30.

But a steely Federer chipped and charged off a Berdych second serve, putting the lumbering Czech on the defensive and saving match point with a backhand volley to force deuce.

Federer appeared ready to crack Berdych’s notoriously fragile nerves shortly thereafter, forcing a break point with a cross-court forehand blast that Berdych slipped in attempting to return, remaining on the ground for a while after melodramatically.

But Berdych survived the scare, striking a huge second serve deep in the box break point which Federer could only put back into the net.

Federer’s next return at deuce went long, giving Berdych his second match point.

And on that second match point, Berdych finished the deed. He hit a huge first serve into Federer’s body, jamming him into a short return which Berdych pounded for an up the line forehand winner to seal the victory.

As he walked off court, Federer saluted the Wimbledon crowd and was cheered emphatically in departure, the earliest this crowd has seen the six-time champion exit the draw in eight years. The loss broke Federer’s streak of seven straight appearances in the Wimbledon final.

It is Federer’s second consecutive loss at a grand slam before the semifinals of a major, after previously making 23 straight (though with a glass half-full perspective, he still has made an incredible 25 straight grand slam quarterfinals).

The loss also breaks Federer’s streak of seven straight appearances in the Wimbledon final.

(For more on Tomas Berdych, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of his interview with SB Nation’s tennis blog, The Daily Forehand)

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Wimbledon: No. 12 Tomas Berdych Breaks, Leads No. 1 Roger Federer 4-3 In Fourth Set

No. 12 Tomas Berdych simply needs to hold serve twice more for the biggest win of his career, after breaking defending champion No. 1 Roger Federer for a 4-3 lead in the fourth set.

Berdych had his first break point of the game at 30-40, but sailed his forehand return just long. He finished off the break six points later on his second opportunity thanks to a forced error at net off the Federer racquet.

Federer has been hitting his second serve terribly throughout this match, sending the ball in both slowly and without enough slice to stay low. The ball is rising right into the 6’5’’ Berdych’s strike zone, allowing him to tee off on the return and immediately take control of the rallies.

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Wimbledon: No. 3 Novak Djokovic Cruises Into Semifinal With Easy Win Over Lu Yen-Hsun

No. 3 Novak Djokovic hammered out a quick and dirty 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Lu Yen-Hsun on Court 1.

The rout really can’t help the psyche of Andy Roddick, who lost to Lu in five sets in the quarterfinal. Djokovic returned much better than Roddick did, breaking Lu five times, which was four more breaks than Roddick earned.

In what will be his second Wimbledon semifinal, Djokovic would be favored against Tomas Berdych, but not Roger Federer.

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Wimbledon: No. 12 Tomas Berdych Dominates Third Set, Wins It 6-1 Over No. 1 Roger Federer

No. 12 Tomas Berdych added a second break in the sixth game to help close out a rout in the third set against defending champion No. 1 Roger Federer, winning the third set 6-1 to put himself a set from his first Wimbledon semifinal appearance.

Federer appeared to be getting more and more frustrated as the set went on, throwing his arms up in disgust after several Berdych winners.

The question now for Berdych will be if he has what it takes to finish off what would be the biggest win of his career. Berdych has blown even bigger leads against Federer in his career, as he once led Federer two-sets-to-none at the 2009 Australian Open.

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Wimbledon: Williams Sisters Lose In Doubles; Grand Slam Bid Halted

Two-time defending champions Venus and Serena Williams have suffered their first defeat in grand slam doubles play in over a year, losing to the unseeded Russian pair of Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The match provided a likely preview of the Ladies’ Singles final, with both Serena and Zvonareva heavily favored to win their semifinals tomorrow against Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova, respectively.

The Williamses gained the No. 1 ranking in doubles at this year’s French Open for the first time in their career, seizing the ranking from splitting pair Liezel Huber and Cara Black.

The sisters had won the last four had been halfway to the calendar grand slam, having previously won the 2010 Australian and French Opens. They also held all four grand slam titles going into this tournament, having also won Wimbledon and the US Open in 2009.

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