WIMBLEDON, England – Roger Federer neutralized Ivo Karlovic's huge serves Wednesday to reach the Wimbledon semifinals and move a step closer to a record 15th Grand Slam championship.
In a match featuring short points and few rallies, Federer conjured up a few great returns to break the 6-foot-10 Croatian twice and secure a 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory on another sunbaked day at the All England Club.
Federer, closing in on his sixth Wimbledon title, reached his 21st consecutive semifinal at a Grand Slam tournament and extended his winning streak to 17 matches with another vintage performance on his favorite Centre Court.
"I love the record I have of reaching so many semifinals in Grand Slams in a row — 21 is quite a number," Federer said. "It shows how consistent I've been."
It was Federer's ninth win in 10 matches against Karlovic, who was playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Federer will face either Novak Djokovic or Tommy Haas in Friday's semifinals.
In other men's quarterfinals Wednesday, No. 3 Andy Murray of Britain was up against Spanish wild card and former No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, and two-time finalist Andy Roddick of the United States faced 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.
Karlovic served 23 aces to raise his tournament total to 160, but it was Federer who never faced a break point in this match. The second-ranked Swiss star won 74 of 85 points on serve and was taken to deuce only once, in the sixth game of the third set. Federer got out of that jam with a 129 mph (208 kph) service winner and a 128 mph (206 kph) ace.
"It's difficult because there's not really any baseline rallies on his serve or on my serve," Federer said. "You expect a tough scoreline all the time. It's not easy to break him. I'm very happy to break him twice and win the match."
The statistics told the story: Federer had 39 winners and only seven unforced errors, to 29 winners (almost all on serve) and 17 errors for Karlovic.
Federer grabbed the upper hand early when he broke Karlovic in the fourth game of the match with flashes of brilliance.
He got to break point with a reflex backhand return winner off a 130 mph (209 kph) serve and then ripped a forehand return winner off a 122 mph (196 kph) serve, pumping his fist and shouting, "Come on!"
It was the first time Karlovic had been broken during the tournament after winning 80 consecutive service games.
The first extended rally of the match — and one of only a handful during the entire contest — didn't take place until the fourth game of the second set, a 15-stroke point that ended with a Federer forehand winner 35 minutes into the match.
The second set turned Federer's way when he broke Karlovic in the 11th game with four straight winners: an overhead, a forehand passing shot down the line, a reflex backhand return off a 126 mph (203 kph) serve and a passing shot that glanced off Karlovic's racket frame.
The third set ended with the 13th tiebreaker the two men have played against each other in 25 sets of tennis. Karlovic's limitations were exposed as he made several glaring errors, missing badly on what should have been easy putaways. Federer finished him off with an inside-out forehand winner on the first match point.
The women's semifinals are set for Thursday, with the Williams sisters facing Russian opponents.
Third-seeded Venus, going for her third straight Wimbledon championship, will be up against No. 1 Dinara Safina. Serena, seeded No. 2, will face No. 4 Elena Dementieva.
The Williams sisters could face each other in a Grand Slam final for the eighth time, and fourth in the Wimbledon title match.
"I would love it to be a Williams final, and so would she," five-time champion Venus said.
Only once in the past nine years has there been a Wimbledon women's final that didn't feature at least one of the Williams sisters. That was 2006 when Serena was absent injured.