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Emotional Janowicz wins Polish shootout

Jerzy Janowicz of Poland celebrates after defeating Lukasz Kubot of Poland in their men's quarter-final tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis
Jerzy Janowicz of Poland celebrates after defeating Lukasz Kubot of Poland in their men's quarter-final tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis

By Ed Osmond

LONDON (Reuters) - If there was any doubt how much it meant to Jerzy Janowicz to reach a Wimbledon semi-final, it was soon evident when the Polish outsider sobbed his eyes out on the famous green turf and struggled to string a sentence together.

Janowicz's win was not only a momentous moment for the 6-foot-8 beanpole but also for his country as he became the first Polish man to reach a grand slam singles semi-final after overpowering compatriot Lukasz Kubot 7-5 6-4 6-4 on Wednesday.

"I'm just really happy," Janowicz gulped as he struggled to get the words out shortly after walking off Court One.

Still overcome with emotion and with his eyes glazed over, he mumbled slowly: "I've not got the words to say anything now."

This was the quarter-final that should have pitted holder Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal against each other, but after the two champions perished during a chaotic first week, Janowicz and Kubot faced off with Polish pride at stake.

Once 24th seed Janowicz sealed victory with a trademark rocket serve, it was evident that as far as the two players were concerned, there were no losers.

The two friends and Davis Cup team mates went on to swap shirts after embracing for almost 30 seconds at the net.

"I'm really proud to represent my country," Janowicz told a news conference. "Always I'm happy to play a Davis Cup tie. I didn't miss even one match from 2008. So this is really important for me.

"This was one of the toughest matches of my life. I was never in (grand slam) quarter-final before. I never played against Lukasz before. Lukasz played an incredible match today."

Janowicz broke Kubot in the 11th game of a service-dominated opening set and did so again to open up a decisive 4-3 lead in the second.

The 22-year-old served 30 aces in the match and struck 58 winners to wear down his 31-year-old opponent.

He broke Kubot again to lead 5-4 in the third set before wrapping up victory after just over two hours.

"I saw his emotions," Kubot told a news conference. "He went on the ground. I just wanted to come up and congratulate him as fast as possible because I knew it was a big moment for both of us.

"He deserve for sure to win today. I said, let's make our tennis more famous, more popular, and show that Poland is on the map of tennis because this has never happened before."

Janowicz will play second seed Andy Murray in the last four.

"I hope Andy will feel some kind of pressure," he said. "I'm sure he will feel some kind of pressure because Great Britain is waiting for the champion of Wimbledon."

Janowicz is guaranteed to break into the world's top 20 next week, the second Polish man to achieve the feat after Wojtek Fibak, and he joins compatriot Agnieszka Radwanska in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

"I know her (Radwanska) very well. She's my really good friend. We stay in touch all the time."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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