London: Four-time champion Novak Djokovic reached the Wimbledon semi-finals for the ninth time on Wednesday, racking up his 70th career win at the All England Club in the process.
The top seed and world number one hit back from a break down in the first set to carve out a commanding 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over 21st seed David Goffin of Belgium.
In a ruthless display, the defending champion reeled off 15 of the last 17 games to secure a place in the semi-finals of the majors for the 36th time.
Next up is either Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut or Guido Pella of Argentina for a place in Sunday’s final.
“He started well and was dictating play from the baseline,” said 32-year-old Djokovic.
“Things could have gone a different way if I had lost the first set but I was very pleased with the second and third.
He added: “I had a tough match in the third round [against Hubert Hurkacz]. Other than that, I’ve won in straight sets and played really well throughout the tournament.
“It’s exactly what I wanted and hopefully I can go in the right direction in the semis as well.”
Goffin was on top in the early stages as he sensed the opportunity to become the first Belgian man to make the semi-finals at a Slam since Xavier Malisse at Wimbledon in 2002.
The 28-year-old broke for a 4-3 lead but 16-time Slam winner Djokovic then reeled off the next nine games, taking the first set and the second in which he allowed the Belgian just four points on his serve.
The contest was over by the time Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead in the third set.
Roger Federer can rack up his 100th win at Wimbledon later on Wednesday and set-up a blockbuster semi-final against Rafael Nadal.
If it does happen, it will be their first at the All England Club since 2008 when Nadal triumphed in what is widely regarded as the greatest final ever played at the tournament.
In the women’s semi-finals on Thursday, American superstar Serena Williams is tantalisingly close to equalling Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slam titles but it’s far from a certainty given her shaky displays so far at Wimbledon.
The 37-year-old seven-time champion had to draw on all her strength — physical and mental — to get past unseeded compatriot Alison Riske in the last eight and faces another grass court loving opponent in Barbora Strycova in Thursday’s semi-finals.
The other semi-final pits two seeds against each other, seventh seed and former world number one Simona Halep against eighth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
It says a lot about the turbulence of women’s tennis that Williams is making her 12th semi-final appearance while of the other three only Halep has gone this far before, and that was back in 2014.
Williams is the colossus that still bestrides women’s tennis, but there are chinks in her armour as have been exposed both at Wimbledon and in her last two Grand Slam finals.
Outplayed by Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final and then a spectacular meltdown in the US Open defeat by Naomi Osaka gives Strycova genuine hope of an upset.
Not that the diminutive Czech will require any as her bubbly character oozes optimism and her form guide is as good as any of the semi-finalists having ousted four seeds on her way to the semi-final.
Williams’s clay court campaign was affected by a knee injury but has accrued invaluable extra game time by playing the mixed doubles with another former world number one, Andy Murray.
“This is the first time since Australia [she reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open] that I actually felt, like, good,” said Williams.
“It’s been a really, really long year for me already, and hard year, because I’m usually not typically injured.
“I don’t know where I am. I do know I feel good.”
However, she has still looked vulnerable and Strycova’s speed round the court and array of shots will pay dividends if she reproduces the leaden-footed performance she put up against Riske.
Head-to-head: Women’s semi-finals (x denotes seeded player)
Serena Williams (USA x11) v Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Serena leads 3-0
2017 - Australian Open Hard last-16 7-5, 6-4
2012 - Wimbledon Grass 1st rd 6-2, 6-4
2012 - Australian Open Hard 2nd rd 6-0, 6-4
Simona Halep (ROM x7) v Elina Svitolina (UKR x8)
Svitolina leads 4-3
2019 - Qatar Open Hard SF Halep 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
2018 - Italian Open Clay F Svitolina 6-0, 6-4
2017 - WTA Finals Hard 1st rd Svitolina 6-3, 6-4
2017 - Toronto Hard SF Svitolina 6-1, 6-1
2017 - French Open Clay QF Halep 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-0
2017 - Italian Open Clay F Svitolina 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
2013 - Sofia Hard 1st rd Halep 6-1, 6-1