Novak Djokovic is vowing to turn up the heat on Richard Gasquet as he eyes grand slam redemption in a Wimbledon final showdown with Roger Federer or Andy Murray.
Djokovic will take on Gasquet in his sixth consecutive semi-final at the All England Club on Friday intent on atoning for his shattering loss to Stan Wawrinka in last month’s French Open title match.
“After losing the Roland Garros final, it was not easy for me mentally to bounce back, to get myself motivated,” Djokovic said after cruising past US Open champion Marin Cilic in Wednesday’s quarter-finals.
“So it’s great in a way that we only have a couple of weeks later another grand slam, the biggest one.
“It definitely wasn’t easy to digest this loss in the finals against Stan. I thought it was a great chance for me to win Roland Garros for the first time.”
Djokovic accounted for Cilic in straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-4 but aims to take his game to another level against Gasquet, who snapped Wawrinka’s 11-match grand slam winning streak with an epic 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-4 11-9 victory.
“I’ve been playing really good,” said the top-seeded titleholder.
“I’m hoping I have that extra gear. I’m hoping it can come out now in the semi-finals, most important matches, final stages of the tournament.”
Djokovic’s milestone 650th career victory – and 50th at Wimbledon – thrust the 28-year-old Serb into his 27th grand slam semi-final.
Only Federer (37), Jimmy Connors (31) and Ivan Lendl (28) boast more appearances at the penultimate stage of a major.
“The top players are expected to reach the semi-finals of grand slams but I try not to take it for granted,” Djokovic said.
Gasquet, a year older at 29, will be contesting just his third grand slam semi-final – eight years after also reaching the last four on London’s hallowed grass courts.
The Frenchman’s upset win over Wawrinka – two days after he ousted Australia’s last hope Nick Kyrgios in round four – denied tennis fans a French Open final sequel.
But Djovokic disputed being presented with an easier passage to Sunday’s showpiece final.
“Look, Richard is in the semi-finals for a reason,” he said.
“It’s a great effort from him to mentally stay tough because Stan is one of the toughest players on the tour.
“A great effort from Richard. I’m sure it’s going to be close match between us.”
Should he account for Gasquet for the 12th time in 13 encounters, Djokovic will take on the victor of Friday’s marquee semi-final between Federer and Murray.
But the world No.1 has no preference who he’d rather face, nor any real idea who it will be.
“I can’t pick a favourite honestly because, yes, Roger is maybe better ranked than he is. An incredible history of success in Wimbledon.
“Andy has been playing some of his best tennis this year. He won Queen’s, and he’s playing in front of his home crowd.
“I would go 50/50.”
Federer overcame two rain delays and his first break in a remarkable 117 service games to sweep past French 12th seed Gilles Simon 6-3 7-5 6-2 and qualify for his 10th Wimbledon semi-final, having won his previous nine.
The great Swiss will be meeting Murray at the All England Club for the first time since the pair’s magical summer of 2012 when Federer upstaged the Scot to land his record-equalling seventh title before Murray turned the tables in the Olympic final.
“If we knew I would win Wimbledon and him Olympics, I think we both would have taken it. It was a great summer for us,” Federer said.
Murray, the 2013 champion, took out Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-4 7-5 6-4 to advance to his sixth semi-final at SW19.
HOW THE WIMBLEDON SEMI-FINALISTS MATCH-UP AHEAD OF FRIDAY’S BIG MEN’S MATCHES
1-NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) leads 21-RICHARD GASQUET (FRA) 11-1 (2-0 at grand slams)
2015 French Open, clay, R16, Djokovic 6-1 6-2 6-3
2011 French Open, clay, R16, Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-2
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US79,387,662 ($A106.53 million)
Career titles: 53
Grand slam titles: 8 (Australian Open 2008, 2011-2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2011, 2014; US Open 2011)
Wimbledon win-loss record: 50-8
Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2011, 2014
Career prize money: $US11,564,818 ($A15.58 million)
Career titles: 12
Grand slam titles: 0
Wimbledon win-loss record: 25-9
Best Wimbledon performances: semi-finalist 2007, 2015
2-ROGER FEDERER (SUI) leads ANDY MURRAY (SCO) 12-11 (4-1 at grand slams)
2014 Australian Open, hard, QF, Federer 6-3 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3
2013 Australian Open, hard, SF, Murray 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-2
2012 Wimbledon, grass, F, Federer 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
2010 Australian Open, hard, F, Federer 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11)
2008 US Open, hard, F, Federer 6-2 7-5 6-2
Career prize money: $US90,936,295 ($A122.03 million)
Career titles: 86
Grand slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2004, 2006-07, 2010; French Open 2009; Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012; US Open 2004-2008)
Wimbledon win-loss record: 78-9
Best Wimbledon performances: champion 2003-07, 2009, 2012
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US38,186,311 ($A51.24 million)
Career titles: 34
Grand slam titles: 2 (US Open 2012; Wimbledon 2013)
Wimbledon win-loss record: 46-8
Best Wimbledon performance: champion 2013