Published July 02, 2013
LONDON (AFP) – Novak Djokovic tackles Tomas Berdych for a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals Wednesday still feeling the raw pain of his defeat to the Czech at the All England Club three years ago.
World number one Djokovic was beaten in straight sets in the semi-finals by Berdych in 2010, a defeat which raised serious doubts over whether or not the gifted but unpredictable Serb would ever build on his Australian Open breakthrough of 2008.
He lost that day but has since has gone on to win five more majors including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open crowns in 2011.
"Yes, I had quite a turbulent five, six months of 2010 but the semi-finals of Wimbledon came in the right time for me because I felt that was like a springboard for me," said Djokovic.
"From that moment on everything started going uphill really."
Not that Djokovic, who boasts a 13-2 winning record against Berdych will be taking anything for granted.
"I hadn't played great at that match against Tomas, but credit to him because he played finals that year, and he beat Roger and myself, played a good match against Rafa in the final. So he knows how to play on grass. That's the only time we played on this surface. I'm expecting a difficult match."
Djokovic will be playing in his 17th successive Grand Slam quarter-final.
But with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both suffering shock early defeats, he is taking nothing for granted against Berdych.
"It's the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. He's an established top 5, top 10 player in the world.
"But I feel good about myself in this moment. I think I actually play better tennis on grass than I played two years ago when I won this tournament. For now I'm feeling good. I'm No. 1 of the world. I have no reason to be concerned about my game."
Second seed Andy Murray insists he can cope with the burden of shouldering growing expectations that he will finally end the 77-year wait for a British man to win Wimbledon.
The world number two has yet to drop a set in his first four matches and looked more at ease than ever in the All England Club spotlight as he prepares for a last eight clash with Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco.
Losing to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final provoked a tearful response from Murray.
But, after winning the US Open and an Olympic gold at Wimbledon, the 26-year-old has appeared increasingly in command of his emotions both on and off court.
"There's always pressure coming into this event and it builds with each match," said Murray as he continues his bid to become his country's first men's champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray, playing in his sixth successive Grand Slam quarter-final, is the heavy favourite to reach a second successive final.
If he gets past Verdasco, against whom he has an 8-1 winning record, then he will face either Jerzy Janowicz or Lukasz Kubot with the two Polish Davis Cup teammates meeting in the other quarter-final in his side of the draw.
Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer is in the quarter-finals for the second successive year and faces Argentine eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro.