Wimbledon 2010 live blog: 2 July
11am: Xan will be with you shortly for today's live blog.
But in the meantime read why Kevin Mitchell reckons Andy Murray stands a chance of reaching the final this year.
Murray has the knees to answer history's calling
While it is absurd to suggest that winning would be anything but the biggest event in Andy Murray's young life, he puts the prospect of victory here on Sunday in an altogether different perspective when he says he would gladly do it for nothing.
For the first time the winner will become an instant millionaire – or, in reality, whichever already rich athlete it is will have his already bulging bank account enhanced by a further £1m. So, Murray was asked before his semi-final against Rafael Nadal this afternoon, if there were no money on offer, would it make any difference to him?
"No, no difference at all," he says. "The prize money is great but I'm sure if you said to Roger [Federer], 'You can keep your six Wimbledon titles but you have to give your prize money back,' I'm sure he would sign up for that every day of the week.
"The funny thing is, if you ask all the people who win Wimbledon, when you're serving for the match, it's about the history and the prestige of winning Wimbledon, not the amount of money you could win. It's obviously great but it's just so far from being the most important thing when you're out there."
11.50am: It's feeding time on court 16. Novak Djokovic is out practicing ahead of his semi-final clash with Tomas Berdych. There, the balls are gently spooned to him by a pair of paunchy hitting partners who look like they might moonlight as nightclub bouncers. Djokovic gobbles them up and lifts his head for more, while we stand and watch him just a few feet away.
Djokovic is used to a bigger stage than this and the proximity of the crowd appears to make him self-conscious. He flexes his neck and pads to the other side of the court, his every movement speaking of a poised and lofty disdain. I'm reminded of a recent visit to the big cat enclosure at London Zoo, where the puma prowled back and forth, pausing only to direct the occasional dark glance at the gawpers lined up behind the grass.
We have reached day 11 at the Wimbledon championships and are now deep into the business end of this tournament. By tonight, weather permitting, we shall know the two men who will contest this year's singles final.
Third-seed Djokovic is up first on Centre Court at 1pm. The Serb has played Berdych twice before and . But it has been a different Berdych we've seen at this tournament. In the quarter-finals, the heavy-hitting Czech comprehensively mortar-shelled an out-of-form Roger Federer, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. . But you can't discount the bestial one-two punch of the Berdych serve and forehand.
Oh, and after that we have the trifling matter of a little match between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. Who knows? Maybe we shall even cover that one too …
12.30pm: Over the past 10 days, Wimbledon has been variously polite and officious, joyous and contented. Today the whole place feels nervous, jittery, as if 30,000 people have collectively downed a bunch of triple-espressos. We are all just milling about, awaiting the moment of truth. Tim Henman just walked by on his way to the broadcasting centre. He looks tense, peeved and watchful. But then doesn't he always?
Sometime this afternoon, as soon as Djokovich and Berdych have resolved their dispute, Britain's Andy Murray will step onto Centre Court to face Rafael Nadal, the world's number one. These two have met 10 times before, with Nadal leading . But Murray won their last encounter, at this year's Australian Open, when Nadal pulled up lame, and also got the better of the Spaniard in a .
My colleague Simon Cambers is tipping Murray to win this one, although the general consensus is that the Scot needs to be aggressive. Murray's game comes built around the counter-punch. His success is reliant on his foot speed, his anticipation and his clever changes of pace. But if he plays too passive and allows Nadal to start dictating the points from the baseline, then it's safe to say that he's a goner.
12.50pm: So here, definitively, is how the day will play out. Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic are out for the first semi-final at 1pm. We'll be keeping tabs on that one here on the blog. And then, once it wraps up, I shall be jumping ship to cover the Murray-Nadal tussle via the game-by-game report.
Is Wimbledon throwing up any omens ahead of the Murray match? Well, right now, out on court 12, another British hope is struggling. Oliver Golding has just gone a set down against Australia's Benjamin Mitchell. The 16-year-old beat the top seed in the junior championship, but so far the semi-final looks to be going against him. And yet Golding fought back from behind in his previous match and could well do so again. We'll keep you posted.
1.13pm: Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych are on Centre Court. The Czech wins the toss, elects to serve and the first game throws up tantalising clues as to how this contest will play out. The Czech rips the Serb with howitzer serves, but if Djokovic can sneak into a rally, he has a slight advantage. He's fast and Berdych is slow, barely moving his feet when the Serb teases him with a backhand drop shop.
But that serve is ferocious. "Play," says the umpire, but Djokovic is barely getting a chance to. First game to Berdych.
1.20pm: They are going with serve in the early stages of the first semi-final. Djokovic's first delivery is sharp and steely; Berdych's a bomb going off. The 12-seeded Czech moves ahead 2-1.
1.29pm: The third seed shuffles his feet and purses his lips, angling for an opening. He drags the brutish Berdych to deuce before the Czech steadies himself. Berdych needs the first serves and finds them, shredding Djokovic with a pair of aces; one breaking wide and the other thundering down the T. Three-two to Berdych.
1.35pm: First blood to Berdych! He's been the more relaxed man out there so far. His limbs are loose, warmed by the sun, and he swings into his returns to send Djokovic back on his heels. The Serb looks a little dazed by the pummeling and starts steering his ground-strokes out of court. Berdych breaks and holds and now leads the opening set five games to two.
1.43pm: Into the valley of death rides gallant Novak Djokovic. He has the neat, regimental haircut and wields his racket like a rapier. Djokovic has come to probe and dice and run through his opponent. But lying in ambush at the other end of the court stand the Berdych cannons. The fuses are lit and they blow him away. Djokovic is staggered by serves and battered by forehands and Berdych roars and rumbles through to take the first set 6-3.
2pm: News from the grounds: Oliver Golding is out. Britain's junior hopeful loses his semi-final in a hurry, 2-6, 2-6 to Australia's Benjamin Mitchell. Those of a patriotic bent might consider this as some pagan sacrifice to the tennis gods. Feed them Golding and they may spare Murray. Hard luck if so. The tennis gods don't play that way. They take who they like, when they like and usually come right back for more. Andy Murray will have to fight this battle all on his own.
Outside Centre Court, Vijay Amritraj is handing out tickets. "Here's three for Centre Court, today's singles matches," he tells a trio of bemused spectators. "Enjoy."
Note to anyone else within the grounds: these may well be the only tickets he has on his person. Don't mob Vijay! No more tickets!
And finally to Centre, where Djokovic is toiling and pressing for the break against Tomas Berdych. The Serb is moving better now, inviting Berdych to lumber side-to-side in pursuit of angled forehands and backhands. But at game point, the Czech floats a ball clean onto the baseline and Djokovic shanks his shot and grins in self-disgust. Two-all, second set.
2.07pm: Now it is Berdych's time to run to break points, with a 15-40 lead. Djokovic saves both and then proceeds to lance the Czech with a body serve. Berdych is big and heavy with an epic reach off either flank. The body serve may be just the thing to spike his guns.
2.15pm: What? The tennis gods will not be appeased by the sacrifice of poor Oliver Golding? They demand little Laura Robson as well? Well, OK, let them have her. Anything to keep Murray in the championship. The British teen has just gone a set down in her junior match against Japan's Sachie Ishizu. Robson, of course, won this event in 2008 and is bidding to do so again.
How many times can a person compete in the junior championships, incidentally? Surely there has to be some cut-off date - otherwise the tournament would be full of grotesque Baby Janes, all squealing with excitement and pretending that they're still 15. Whoever wins the Robson-Ishizu match goes through to meet Mickey Rooney in the following round.
2.22pm: The rub of the green is not going Djokovic's way. He is battling to hold onto his serve, groping at balls that skip unpredictably off the baseline; flailing to keep himself in the hunt. Berdych has him at 15-30 yet can't seal the deal, allowing the third seed to wriggle through to 5-4 in the second set.
2.30pm: Once again, Berdych lines up the cannons and lets them fly. The Djokovic cavalry finds itself decimated by another fusillade. The Serb's defenses are scattered and his tactics are all over the place. Love-40 down, he switches to desperate attack, lashing a 110mph second serve to stay in the game. But he then pushes a smash well beyond the baseline. Berdych will now serve for the second set.
2.35pm: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. When Berdych goes down, thousands of spectators all jolt in their seats. Djokovic takes the point and steals the game after Berdych's forehand slaps the tape and kicks back. So the Serb keeps his hopes alive to send us rattling to the tiebreak.
2.47pm: The weapons misfire and the cannonballs sheer in too low and are caught by the net. Berdych has three set points and squanders them. On the fourth, Djokovic mounts the best defence we've seen all day, scurrying crab-like along the baseline to retrieve Berdych's drives. The Serb's lob is called out. A challenge shows that it's in. They must replay the point!
Djokovic is furious, but composes himself just in time to win the point and tie the break at six points all. He roars to his supporters and Berdych's head is down.
2.52pm: Nine-all in the tiebreak. Both men have had set points; neither can collect. The heart and soul of this contest is playing out right here.
2.55pm: But it is Djokovic who cracks first. Having clawed his way brilliantly back into this match, he concedes the tiebreak with a tame double fault and then vents his fury by attacking the chair with his racket.
Berdych takes the tie-break 11-9 to lead 6-3, 7-6. He is poised to become the first Czech to contest the men's singles final since Ivan Lendl back in 1987.
3.10pm: Below the line, goto100 astutely notes the resemblance between Tomas Berdych and Marat Safin; another raw-boned, strapping killer who had the power to simply blast his opponents off the court (as he memorably did to Sampras in the 2000 US Open final). Safin should probably have won more titles than he did (a brittle temperament proved his undoing). The 24-year-old Berdych, of course, still has time to fulfill his promise.
Djokovic is currently reeling out there. His legs are stiff and his serve lacks pop and the Czech is able to clobber him with forehand blows to either corner. But the Serb survives a break point and holds to make it two-all, third set.
3.25pm: Does Novak Djokovic have another gear to his game? The third seed looks super-fit and is unlikely to fade as the match goes on. But there is a raggedness to his usual neat-and-tidy game today that he will need to address (and maybe right now) if he is to prevent Tomas Berdych from strong-arming him off court.
Too late, too late! Djokovic double-faults on break point to put Tomas Berdych 5-3 ahead.
Out on court 12, Laura Robson loses 5-7, 6-7 to Japan's Sachie Ishizu and the tennis gods eat their second British tennis hope of the day. They have had the starter and they have gobbled the main course. Pray gods, pray gods they don't have room for dessert. Andy Murray is out next on Centre Court.
3.30pm: Tomas Berdych runs to 40-0, three match points, courtesy of a thunderous forehand down the line. He scoops the match with another heavy service winner to go through 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. So 24-year-old Tomas Berdych advances to his first grand slam final and pauses at the chair to soak up the applause of the Centre Court crowd.
"That's the last time they'll applaud him if Murray goes through," says a reporter at my right. And this is doubtless true. Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are expected imminently.
Thanks for bearing with me. We're now heading over to tackle the on the second semi final. Join me there.