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TENNIS

Djokovic, Del Potro charge into Wimbledon semis

World No. 1 and former Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic and former U.S. Open titlist Juan Martin del Potro were a pair of straight-set quarterfinal winners Wednesday at The Championships.

Djokovic will meet del Potro in Friday's men's semifinals. The Argentine beat the Serb in last year's Olympic bronze-medal match on the grass here at the venerable All England Club.

Playing in his 17th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal, the Serbian star Djokovic handled seventh-seeded Czech slugger Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-3, on Court 1. The three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Berdych was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal here in 2010.

Djokovic advanced in 2 hours, 15 minutes by ripping 16 aces and breaking Berdych on four occasions.

"I've been playing my best tennis of the year on grass," Djokovic said. "I'm glad because it's not my most preferred surface. Hopefully, my experience can help me."

The 26-year-old Djokovic is now 14-2 lifetime against the 27-year-old world No. 6 Berdych, who upset the Serb in a Wimbledon semifinal three years ago. Djokovic is now 3-1 in their overall Grand Slam meetings. Berdych won their last tour meeting in Rome in May.

The remarkable Djokovic will appear in his 13th straight Grand Slam semifinal and is seeking a seventh career major singles title. The stalwart from Belgrade will appear in a fifth Wimbledon semi (1-3).

Djokovic beat Andy Murray in this year's Australian Open final, lost to Murray in last year's U.S. Open title tilt, and captured his lone Wimbledon championship two years ago.

Meanwhile, an eighth-seeded del Potro took out fourth-seeded David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). Ferrer was last month's French Open runner-up to his fellow Spaniard Nadal.

The 6-foot-7 del Potro, playing with a left knee injury, moved on in 2 hours, 16 minutes with the help of 12 aces and three service breaks, compared to zero breaks for the much-smaller, 5-foot-9 Ferrer.

Only five points into their quarterfinal, del Potro chased a Ferrer overhead into the corner, where he lost traction on the slick grass. The Argentine hyper-extended his knee and crumpled to the court.

"It's really, really painful," del Potro said of the injury that has plagued him since he first slipped on the Wimbledon grass last week. "I twist my knee once again, but the doctor gave me some magic pills. I could finish the match. I'm so glad to go through."

Del Potro is now 3-6 lifetime against Ferrer, who beat the Argentine in the fourth round at Wimbledon a year ago. The Spaniard also bested del Potro in the second round at the Aussie Open back in 2008.

The 24-year-old "Delpo" improved to 3-5 in his career major quarters, including 1-0 now at Wimbledon. The formidable Argentine stunned Roger Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open finale.

Del Potro will now appear in his third career Grand Slam semifinal (1-1).

The 31-year-old Ferrer was playing in his second straight Wimbledon quarterfinal (0-2) and 12th overall Grand Slam quarter (6-6).

Del Potro will face Djokovic for a 12th time, with the Serb comfortably leading their lifetime series, 8-3. Djokovic is 3-0 in their career Grand Slam matchups and the two stars will meet for the first time here at Wimbledon.

And in the first-ever all-Polish Grand Slam quarterfinal, 24th-seeded Jerzy Janowicz handled 31-year-old Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours, 7 minutes on Court 1 to give Poland its' first-ever male Grand Slam semifinalist. The 6- foot-8 Janowicz uncorked 30 aces, including some 140-mph bombs on Day 9.

This marked the first-ever meeting between the towering Janowicz and 6-foot-3 Kubot, who was unable to break his compatriot on Wednesday. Janowicz, meanwhile, tallied three breaks of Kubot en route to the final four.

The 22-year-old Janowicz became a regular on the ATP World Tour just last season. His semifinal opponent will be a second-seeded Murray or Spanish southpaw Fernando Verdasco.