sport

Raonic leads the revolution

The old guard will attempt to stall the rise of tennis' new generation in the men's semi-finals at Wimbledon on Friday.

Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, both 23, are through to the last four for the first time at a slam and can prevent yet another final between two members of the 'big four'.

Raonic faces seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer while Andy Murray's conqueror Dimitrov meets top seed Novak Djokovic.

Ahead of tackling Federer, who has won all his eight previous Wimbledon semi-finals, Raonic vowed he would ignore the reputation of the 32-year-old Swiss.

"I'm going to step out there and I'm not playing the seven-time Wimbledon champion. I'm not playing a 32-year-old man. I'm not playing father of two sets of twins, which is a very low possibility I bet to do," Raonic said.

"I'm not playing the guy that's won whatever he's won, which I could probably list quite vividly. I'm playing a guy that is standing in my way of what I want to achieve.

"I guess that you can't really outrun time in one way.

"New guys have got to come up and they've got to step up. We've been doing better and better, especially throughout this year.

"It's good to be a part of it. It's nice to see that sort of human side to those four guys when you have to step up to face them, and to have a belief more so than ever that it's yours for the taking if you play well."

Raonic will leapfrog Murray in the world rankings on Monday, together with the Scot's conqueror Dimitrov, as the new breed begin to pick off the quartet who together have dominated the grand slams over the last decade.

Federer is braced for the challenge, and knows his return of serve will be critical.

"It keeps him in the match," Federer said of Raonic's big delivery. "It doesn't matter almost how he plays his return game.

"Here, clearly on the grass with a serve like that, it's never going to be an easy match. That's where you then go back to your own game and say, 'I'll take care of my own serves and see what I can do on the return'."

Dimitrov heads into battle against Djokovic steeled by his stunning straight-sets victory over Murray, which ended the champion's title defence.

The Bulgarian has been urged by girlfriend Maria Sharapova to go on and lift the trophy, while Djokovic has opened the mind games by declaring 11th seed Dimitrov is "the man to beat".

Serbian Djokovic is determined that at the age of 27 he should have many years left at the top, but he is not blind to the creeping threat of the new generation.

"We have these youngsters coming up, fearless on the court, hitting the ball,, not caring who is across the net," Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, said.

"It's good. It gets more attention to new faces and to a new wave that is able to challenge the best and be contending for grand slam titles."