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July 3, 2013

Top seeds on a collision course

LONDON — No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray have yet to lose a set, let alone a match, so far at Wimbledon.

The way things have been going at the All England Club this fortnight, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Rafael Nadal, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, was beaten in the first round. Roger Federer, owner of a record 17 major titles, went out in the second.

And on and on it’s gone, with no top-20 player other than Murray left on his side of the draw, and a record-equaling number of withdrawals or mid-match retirements because of health problems.

“Everyone was a bit on edge, a little bit uptight,” reigning U.S. Open champion Murray acknowledged, “because of what was happening with the injuries, withdrawals, upsets and stuff.”

He and Djokovic have made it all look so routine, though, heading into the men’s quarterfinals Wednesday.

On the top half of the bracket, Djokovic — a six-time Grand Slam titlist and the only remaining past Wimbledon winner — will face No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 2010 runner-up. No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain plays No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, the 2009 U.S. Open champion and the third man who hasn’t dropped a set through four matches.

On the bottom half, it will be Murray against 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain, and No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz against his Davis Cup teammate and pal, 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot, in a match between the first two Polish men to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 1980.

“Magical,” Janowicz said.

Janowicz and Kubot will be playing in the quarterfinals at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time, as will Verdasco and del Potro. Ferrer lost at that stage last year.

The other three have much more solid Wimbledon bona fides: Murray (2012) and Berdych (2010) have been the runner-up, while Djokovic won the title in 2011.

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