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Fri July 4, 2014

Djokovic And Federer Step Up In Wimbledon Semis

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 6:27 pm

Action on the grass courts of Wimbledon is nearing its climax, as former champions and future stars competed in semifinal play. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer advanced to the finals. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated discusses the results.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED I'm Robert Siegel. In tennis the Wimbledon Finals are set. If you don't like any surprises in your strawberries and cream then Sunday's men's final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be right up your alley. But if you like the unexpected, the women's final tomorrow might be your cup of pims. And now that we have our Wimbledon cliches out of the way, joining me from London is Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim. Welcome back to the program.

JON WERTHEIM: Thanks Robert.

SIEGEL: And in the men's semifinals that just wrapped up today Novak Djokovic, the number one seat, advanced but it wasn't easy.

WERTHEIM: No. Djokovic played Grigor Dimitrov who's been billed as Baby Fed, the unfortunate nickname. Everybody sees him as sort of the Federer 2.0 and he had a big breakout this tournament. He reached the semifinals for the first time, Dimitrov did, but Djokovic, in the end, was able to hold him off. And, you know, it was not a pretty match. It was not Djokovic's best tennis. But the fact that he was able to get through this, despite playing substandard tennis, actually bodes well for him I think.

SIEGEL: Dimitrov the Bulgarian. Meanwhile, Roger Federer won in straight sets today. He's 32? And it looked like he was nearing the end of a line of a great career. Is this trip a sign of resurgence or just an anomaly?

WERTHEIM: I think it is a bit of a resurgence. He hasn't vanished. He hasn't disappeared. He's still, you know, he's still a top-flight player. And at this age he has four children as well. A lot has to go right for him to win another major and here a lot has gone right. He loves Wimbledon, he loves the grass, the weather's been congenial, his draw has cooperated, he hasn't expended much energy. And he's right on the threshold. He's going to win this thing for the 8th time and his 18th major if he can just win three more sets. So this has been a nice resurgence here.

SIEGEL: Now on the women's side we have the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova ,who won the title in 2011, but most of the attention seems to be on her opponent. Tell us about her.

WERTHEIM: Kvitova's opponent is Eugenie Bouchard a 19-year-old from Quebec who is a very ambitious and talented player and also, as the euphemism goes, a marketers dream - not unattractive. And the joke here is that she's playing for the title but she's also playing for about $20 million in endorsements should she win. We're talking about Bouchard. That she's really a breath of fresh air for tennis and if she can win this title it will really change the face of women's game right now.

SIEGEL: Now staying with the women, one notable absence in the later rounds at Wimbledon is top-ranked Serena Williams. She was upset early in the tournament playing singles and while playing doubles with her sister Venus, Serena withdrew from their match after just a few games. She looked pretty disoriented and shaky. And she later said that she was suffering from a viral illness. Anymore insight into what happened there?

WERTHEIM: As you can imagine there's quite a good deal of speculation and rumor. There is very little that's concrete. Serena Williams is this tremendous player and probably the greatest server in women's tennis history. Came out for a the match and missed all eight of her serves, a lot of them bouncing before they even hit the net. Finally they, almost like a standing eight count in boxing, you know, they came out and said, are you OK and eventually they basically said you can't continue. And this has been a source of great mystery. You know, Serena is a pure less champion, she's also a pure less drama generator. And I think there will be more to this story that will come out but right now the virus is the camp statement and there hasn't been much more sort of concrete information to expand on that.

SIEGEL: OK. That's Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim in London. Jon, thank you.

WERTHEIM: Anytime. Thanks, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.