May 19, 2013
Del Potro closer to podium, next step Federer
Juan Martín del Potro beat Japanese Kei Nichikori 6-4 7-6 (4) in the men's tennis singles quater-finals and advanced to semifinals where the Argentine will face tennis master Roger Federer.
Earlier, Serbia's Novak Djokovic will get a shot at adding to his medal collection after securing an Olympic semi-final clash against Britain's Andy Murray.
Number two seed Djokovic, who won singles bronze in Beijing, defeated France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 7-5 while Murray cruised to a 6-4 6-1 win over injured Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
Djokovic sped to an early lead against the exhausted Frenchman, who had played both doubles and singles on Wednesday after clocking up the longest three-set match in Olympic history a day earlier, dropping just one game before wrapping up the first set with an ace.
"Today I was a bit tired so it was mission impossible," Tsonga told reporters.
He mustered enough energy to put up more of a fight in the second set, breaking the 25-year-old to go 3-1 up. But Tsonga threw away the opportunity to break a second time and the five-times grand slam winner levelled.
Serving for the match, Djokovic secured the win with an unreturnable serve.
"It was a great win for me. Tsonga is a great competitor and he is a very powerful player from the baseline so, for me, the right thing to do today was use my serve as efficiently as possible in these windy, tough conditions," Djokovic said.
On Court One, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge commanded more of the press photographers' attention than the match, third seed Murray took a 4-3 lead before powering four aces in a row to force Almagro to serve to stay in the set.
The Spaniard held his nerve for one more game, before sending a forehand long to give his opponent the set.
The royals quickly got into the spirit of things, taking part in a Mexican wave which rippled round the crowd several times as 11th-seeded Almagro received medical treatment on his arm and shoulder.
When business got back underway Murray broke in the first game of the second set, dropping just one game before wrapping up the victory.
"Andy is the home hero," said Djokovic of his opponent who reached the Wimbledon final this year.
"He has been playing better than ever on grass courts. I will have to be at the top of my game."