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Andy Murray rallies to beat Fernando Verdasco and reach Wimbledon semifinals

Andy Murray throws his wristband to the crowd

Andy Murray throws his wristband to the crowd after defeating Fernando Verdasco in their men's singles quarterfinal match at Wimbledon. (July 3, 2013) Credit: AP

WIMBLEDON, England -- Juan Martin del Potro literally picked himself off the turf. Andy Murray, did it symbolically. Toss in Novak Djokovic's relentless pursuit of perfection and the first male from Poland ever to make Wimbledon's semifinals and you have a dramatic afternoon of a spill, some chills and in the end for the home nation, thrills.

"Andy-monium," it's been called. It was audibly and visibly apparent Wednesday at Wimbledon when Murray, the Scot, lost the first two sets -- as fans at Centre Court agonized -- then rallied to defeat Fernando Verdasco, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

"When I was younger I could have lost that match," said Murray, 27, last year's beaten finalist and this year's No. 2 seed. "When you play more matches you gain experience, understand how to change matches around. I slowed down, stopped rushing."

Del Potro, seeded No. 8, couldn't rush anywhere. On the first shot of his quarterfinal against the No. 4 seed, David Ferrer, del Potro's left leg went out from under him on the slick grass and he crashed on the left knee heavily taped from a fall four days earlier. It seemed he would be forced to default, but del Potro gathered himself and won, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

"Many bad things come to my mind," said del Potro, the Argentinian who won the 2009 U.S. Open and has incurred numerous injuries. "It was painful. But I took anti-inflammatories and tried to stay positive."

For Djokovic, the 2011 winner and No. 1 seed, his progress wasn't quite as exciting, although in the second set against Tomas Berdych he was two breaks down. No problem, the man called the Joker made it through, 7-6 (5) 6-4, 6-3, and still hasn't dropped a set this tournament.

"I've been serving very well, efficiently," Djokovic pointed out. "I've been returning quite good, a lot of balls in the court, which allows me to be confident on the baseline, which is my game."

The game of Jerzy Janowicz is to hit as hard as possible. That worked out to a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win over Lukasz Kubot, a fellow Pole.

"I never had a chance to be in the semifinal of a Slam," said Janowicz. "I had never played Lukasz. This was one of the toughest matches of my life."

His semifinal Friday against Murray with Centre Court seats packed with Brits desperate for their first male Wimbledon champ in 77 years will be no less difficult. In the other semifinal, it's Djokovic against del Potro.

"Hopefully," Djokovic said, echoing the thoughts of all, "I can get a step further."

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