LONDON — The top three men — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray — sailed into the Wimbledon semifinals in straight sets. The final four lineup has an unexpected name, too.
Richard Gasquet outlasted French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in a marathon fifth set Wednesday, preventing this from being the first Wimbledon in 20 years to have the top four men’s seeded players in the semifinals.
Gasquet, seeded 21st, overcame fourth-seeded Wawrinka 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9, falling onto his back in relief after Wawrinka’s backhand sailed long on the third match point, ending nearly 3½ hours of play.
The match — the most compelling quarterfinal — featured players with beautiful one-handed backhands.
“It was great to watch them go backhand-to-backhand today,” said Djokovic. “Some great points, great exchanges.”
Gasquet, who failed to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set, reached the semifinals at the All England Club for the first time since 2007.
“The last game was incredible,” he said. “I kept fighting a lot. And I did it. It’s a great match for me. It would be difficult for me to lose that one after (leading) 5-3.”
Gasquet will next face defending champion Djokovic, who swept past Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the final four for the sixth straight year. Djokovic is 11-1 against Gasquet.
“Of course, he will be the favorite of the match,” said Gasquet, who will be in his third Grand Slam semifinal. “Everybody knows that.”
“Obviously, the experience of being in these final stages of Wimbledon many times is going to help me,” said Djokovic who has eight major championships and reached his 27th major semifinal, sixth in a row at Wimbledon.
Friday’s other semifinal will pit seven-time champion Roger Federer against 2013 winner Andy Murray.
Despite losing serve for the first time all tournament, Federer overwhelmed Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals for the 10th time, and to the final four of a Grand Slam tournament for the 37th time.
Murray beat Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to reach his sixth Wimbledon semifinal.
Murray never lost serve, saving the one break point he faced, and broke Pospisil three times and had only 13 unforced errors. He extended his record to 4-0 against the Canadian, all in straight sets.
Federer is closing in on a record eighth Wimbledon title and his 18th Grand Slam championship.
“The road is long getting here,” Federer said. “But still I feel like I’m fresh, and I’ve got energy left in the tank for hopefully a great match with Andy. And then, we’ll see.”
Federer has never lost in the Wimbledon semifinals, holding a career 9-0 record. He has a 12-11 career edge over Murray, but Murray beat him on Centre Court in the final of the 2012 Olympic tournament — a few weeks after Federer defeated Murray in the Wimbledon final for his seventh title.
“We both like to look back at that summer — me, not so much at the Olympics; him, probably not so much at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “He played unbelievable in the finals of the Olympics. I’m not going to try to look back at that too much, because he really dominated me in that one.”
Murray overpowered Federer in straight sets in the Olympic match, but since then, Federer has won four of their past six meetings, including the past three.
“I know Roger very well,” Murray said. “We’ve played each other many times. We saw each other this morning; walked to the practice courts together and stuff. We get on well. But obviously on Friday, different story.”
Federer put on another vintage grass-court display Wednesday to take Simon apart in just over 90 minutes on Court 1 in a match that was interrupted twice by rain delays.
“The stop-and-gos are tough,” Federer said. “You never know how you’re going to come back from them, but I think I used them to my advantage.”
Federer, seeded second, served 11 aces, broke five times, had 36 winners and thoroughly dominated a player he has now beaten six straight times.
The only surprise came when Simon broke Federer — at love no less — to draw even at 5-5 in the second set. It was the first time Federer had been broken after 67 service games at Wimbledon, a streak that stretched to 116 games when including his title run at the grass-court tournament in Halle, Germany.
Not to be rattled, Federer broke Simon in the very next game. After rain suspended play at 6-5, 15-0, Federer finished the set with a service winner, ace, ace. Federer broke twice in the final set.
“Reaction was always going to be important for me once the streak ended and the serve was broken,” he said. “I think I was able to do that. Gilles is obviously a quality return player and the game I got broken, he was too good, so no problem to accept that.”