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Federer, a finalist the past 8 years, loses in Wimbledon quarters

WIMBLEDON, England — For the first time in eight years, Roger Federer won’t be striding onto Centre Court for the Wimbledon final this weekend.

The six-time champion was upset in the quarterfinals by hard-hitting Tomas Berdych on Wednesday, stopping his bid for a record-tying seventh title at the All England Club and extending his recent stretch of disappointing play.

The 12th-seeded Berdych used his big serve and forehand to beat Federer 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, on Centre Court for the biggest victory of the Czech’s career.

It’s the first time since 2002 that Federer has failed to reach the final. Since losing in the first round eight years ago, Federer had played in the championship match a record seven consecutive times. He won the title six times and finished runner-up once, bolstering his reputation as the greatest player of all-time.

Winner of a record 16 Grand Slam titles, Federer said he was unable to play his best tennis Wednesday because of pain in his back and right leg.

"I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play," said Federer, who had been chasing the record of seven titles won by Pete Sampras and 19th-century player William Renshaw. "I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play. It’s frustrating, to say the least."

Berdych ripped a clean forehand winner on his second match point to become the first Czech to reach the men’s semifinals since Ivan Lendl in 1990.

"It’s really tough to show this crowd how I’m just feeling right now, it’s amazing to play in this stadium, to play such a great player as Roger is, and come here and be here as a winner is just really amazing," the 20-year-old Berdych said.

Berdych will next face Novak Djokovic, who swept past Yen-hsun Lu in straight sets to reach the semifinals for the second time. The third-seeded Djokovic never faced a break point as he beat the 82nd-ranked Taiwanese player 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in less than two hours on Court 1.

In other matches, No. 2 Rafael Nadal played No. 6 Robin Soderling, and No. 4 Andy Murray faced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

With the loss, Federer will drop to No. 3 in the ATP rankings next week for the first time since Nov. 10, 2003. Since winning the Australian Open in January, he has failed to win a tournament.

Federer said his leg and back have been bothering him since the grass-court tournament in Halle, Germany, the week before Wimbledon. He hadn’t previously mentioned any injury problems.

"When you’re hurting, it’s just a combination of many things," Federer said. "You just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes. You tend to play differently than the way you want to play.

"Under the circumstances, I think I played a decent match," he added. "But I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. If there’s anything good about this, it’s that I’m going to get some rest."

Federer was playing in his 25th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. He had won 23 straight, but now has lost two in a row. Federer fell to Robin Soderling at the French Open earlier this month.

Federer had won 76 of 77 grass-court matches dating to 2003 coming into this month, but has now lost two of the past six, including to Lleyton Hewitt in Halle.

Federer was clearly outplayed Wednesday by a man who has always possessed enormous talent but often failed to live up to expectations.

The 6-foot-5 Berdych was on the offensive for most of the match, smacking first serves consistently in the 130s mph (above 210 kph), winding up to rip forehand winners and not buckling under pressure. He hit 51 winners, compared to 44 for Federer.

"He played well when he had to," Federer said. "It was brutal for me. Every time he had a chance, he took it. On the break points, he played great on those. … When I did have chances, I played poorly. It was just a frustrating match the way it all went."

Berdych broke Federer four times, with the final break coming in the seventh game of the fourth set. Berdych served 12 aces, was broken just once and saved seven of eight break points.

Federer came in with an 8-2 career record against Berdych, having lost the first match at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the last in Miami this year.

"I don’t think I played poorly," Federer said. "I think he went after it. I know Berdych. I think I’ve played him 10 times already before. That’s the way he plays.

"I think he’s been able to play more consistent last year or so, and I was just not able to defend well enough and I didn’t come up with the good stuff when I had to. It was disappointing."

Lu stunned three-time finalist Andy Roddick in the fourth round, but couldn’t replicate that performance against Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion.

Djokovic lost just 12 points in 13 service games. He won 26 of his first 28 service points, including 15 in a row. The Serb had 29 winners and 17 unforced errors, and converted five of 15 break points.

"Nothing is easy these days, especially at this stage of the tournament," Djokovic said. "But the way I played, I deserved to win. I was hitting all the shots and I was really playing very solid from all parts of the court. I’m very, very happy with the performance today."

Djokovic reached the semifinals here in 2007 but had to retire against Rafael Nadal with a foot injury while trailing in the third set.

"This time physically I’m fitter," Djokovic said. "Those were very strange conditions and circumstances. I had to play three very long matches in three days and couldn’t hold on in the semifinal. This time everything is in order and I’ll give my best."

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