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David vs Goliath


Roberto Bautista Agut advances into his first Grand Slam semi-final where he will play top seed Novak Djokovic

FINALLY: Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain celebrates his win over Guido Pella of Argentina in yesterdays quarter-final match. Picture: EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Top seed Novak Djokovic recovered from an edgy start to crush the spirit of 21st-seeded Belgian David Goffin in straight sets yesterday, sending the defending champion surging into the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Goffin looked the better player in the early stages and broke for a 4-3 lead in the first set. Half-an-hour later he had lost 10 games in a row and the match was effectively over as Djokovic triumphed 6-4 6-0 6-2.

It was a display of Djokovic at his clinical best as the Serb soaked up the early punches without panic then slowly, but surely, imposed himself in every aspect of the contest to such an extent that Goffin was left flailing.

Djokovic, who has lost only once at a Grand Slam in the last 12 months, is into his ninth Wimbledon semi-final – only Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer have been in more – where he will face Roberto Bautista Agut and will be confident of making Sunday’s showdown.

Bautista Agut, for his part, managed to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final by wearing down Argentine Guido Pella yesterday to steal a march on his more decorated fellow Spaniard Rafa Nadal.

The understated 31-year-old Bautista Agut dropped his first set of the tournament but 26th seed Pella’s gruelling campaign caught up with him as the No 23 seed won 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3.

It was the first Wimbledon quarter-final not featuring a top-20 player since a Polish duel between Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot in 2013, but for the Court One ticket holders it proved an enjoyable appetiser for twice champion Nadal’s clash with American Sam Querrey on the same stretch of turf later.

Bautista Agut is a rugged and reliable performer in Grand Slams and a regular visitor to the third and fourth rounds. This year has seen a breakthrough for him though and he reached his first quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Now he has gone one better and will become only the sixth Spaniard to contest a Wimbledon men’s semi-final when he takes on top seed and defending champion Djokovic.

Bautista Agut will not be daunted either, having twice beaten the Serb this year.

He squandered a 0-40 lead on Pella’s serve in the fifth game of the first set with a double break on offer and was then dragged into a fierce baseline fight before breaking for a 6-5 lead and then serving out the opener.

Pella had spent six hours longer on court to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final and looked weary as he dropped serve at the start of the second set – that proving enough for Bautista Agut to move to within a set of victory.

The left-handed Argentine was not finished though and hit back with some dazzling tennis to snatch the third set.

However, the business-like Bautista Agut was relentless and jumped ahead in the fourth set before claiming victory when Pella looped a forehand over the baseline.