It didn’t quite reach the levels it had eleven summers ago here on Centre Court, but Roger Federer put on a display worthy of his rich grass-court history to beat Rafael Nadal 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and enter his 12th Wimbledon final.
In Sunday’s title-clash, he will encounter World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s wiry, elastic genius which weathered a tough challenge from Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Living up to the hype
The first set, though, lived up to the hype, as both players fought each other to a standstill. Federer, true to his word, attacked from the word go in order to hustle Nadal.
The Spaniard found himself a breakpoint down at 3-4, but found a way by pounding Federer’s backhand side.
In turn, he pressured the Federer serve at 4-4, but the latter drilled an ace at 30-30 and held on. Inevitably, the set slipped into a tie-break where Federer made the play by reeling off five straight points from 2-3 and finished with a forehand winner.
Early in the second set, following a few nervous holds from both players, Nadal broke Federer to love to go 3-1 up.
The Swiss’ serve broke down completely and a game as tightly wound as his is to the serve, it collapsed with Nadal taking the set 6-1.
But Federer regained his mojo in the third, able to summon the serve which had earlier given up on him.
He broke to 3-1, following up a great backhand winner with a forehand crosscourt before winning a net exchange. Nadal nearly broke back immediately, but Federer held on, even finishing on the right side of 25-shot rally to ward off a break point.
Federer’s two subsequent holds were first-rate, for a combined loss of just one point.
Nadal’s tactic of attacking Federer’s backh