WIMBLEDON, England - With six-time men's champion Roger Federer eliminated from Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal's bandwagon is plenty full now.
Today, however, the top-ranked Spaniard plays No. 4-seeded Andy Murray, who is trying to become the first British man in 72 years to reach the Wimbledon final.
Today's other semifinal pits No. 3 Novak Djokovic against No. 12 Tomas Berdych, who upset Federer on Wednesday.
Nadal, the King of Clay, has also become formidable on grass. He was runnerup to Federer at Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007, won in 2008 but missed last year's tournament because of knee tendinitis. Nadal has won 12 matches in a row at the All England Club, and 23 straight at Wimbledon against players other than Federer.
"He's obviously a very tough player on any surface," Murray said, "but he plays great tennis here."
The lack of rain has created dry conditions, so much of the grass has worn away in the area where Nadal loves to work. "Lots of clay behind the baseline," the five-time French Open champion grinned.
Their match will be center stage in Britain. Wimbledon hasn't had a homegrown men's finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938, and there have since been nine consecutive losses in the semis for British men. The last to win the title was Fred Perry (1934-36).
"The crowd obviously would love to see a British player win Wimbledon," Murray said. "You just learn how to put everything to the back of your mind. I don't think you can be taught how to do it. I think it's something that you're either able to do or you can't."