Federer roars into Wimbledon final
Swiss marvel Roger Federer has turned in a virtuoso performance to defeat world No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic and reach an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon final.
Federer dazzled a who’s who of tennis legends and royals with a sparkling 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 semi-final triumph played under a closed roof at the All England Club.
Hailed as the greatest player in history this week by Australia’s dual grand slam sweeper Rod Laver, Federer will face either fourth-seeded British hope Andy Murray or French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday’s championship final.
A seventh Wimbledon crown would equal American Pete Sampras’s record haul at the All England Club and propel Federer back to world No.1 – a month shy of his 31st birthday.
Such a dream scenario for the 16-times grand slam champion would also match Sampras’s record total of 286 weeks atop the rankings and elevate the Swiss wonder to the pantheon of greats in any sporting endeavour.
“Obviously I’m ecstatic. I’m so happy,” Federer said.
“I played a great match. It has been a tough tournament for me and I was able to play some fantastic tennis today.
“The third set was obviously key.
“Of course it feels great to be in the final again.
“Obviously there’s a lot on the line for me, but I’m excited and that’s what I play for.
“I can’t wait for Sunday.”
Friday’s blockbuster showdown was the superstar pair’s 11th at a grand slam – more than any two men in history – and first-ever on grass.
And playing under the retractable roof, the finest indoor player on the planet thrived early.
Playing with controlled aggression, he forced Djokovic into repeated errors to break the Serb in the sixth game of the match for a 4-2 lead.
It was enough for Federer to take the opening set in just 24 minutes, the third seed serving it out to love with two aces and a forehand winner.
Federer conceded only five points in serve in the opening set, but went off the boil in the second to invite Djokovic back into the contest.
Federer dropped serve in the second game of the second set with three sloppy errors and the top seed refused to give the Swiss a sniff of a break back.
Like Federer in the opener, Djokovic held to love to take the second set, with his fifth ace, to level the match after 54 minutes.
Ominously, the world No.1 lost only three points on serve in the second set and committed a mere three unforced errors.
But out of nowhere Federer grabbed a break point in the opening game of the third set.
He missed that chance but, in the best game of the match, he conjured two more with Djokovic serving at 2-3 as the temperature and quality soared under the closed centre-court roof.
After an engrossing 10-minute game, Djokovic again held firm under a barrage of heavy shot-making from Federer as the set.
But the relentless Swiss eventually got his reward when he blazed a backhand crosscourt winner, then struck a delightful forehand to bring up two set points.
Advancing to the net at the first opportunity, Federer only needed the one to take command of the semi-final with a well-executed overhead that to secure a two-sets-to-one advantage.
The winning smash prompted a rare show of emotion from Federer as he pumped his fist and roared in delight after pocketing the pulsating and pivotal third set.
In full flight now, Federer grabbed the decisive break in the second game of the fourth set to roar ahead 3-0.
After blowing four match points in successive heartbreaking US Open semi-final losses to the Serb, Federer this time held his nerve to close out this riveting contest after two hours and 19 minutes.
His mighty effort in reaching an eighth final at the All England Club surpassed the seven of Sampras, Boris Becker and Britain’s 1908 London Olympics dual gold medallist Arthur Gore.
It will also be Federer’s record-extending 24th grand slam final appearance as he strives to land his first major since the 2010 Australian Open.© AAP 2013
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