Roger Federer powered into his 11th Wimbledon final after holding off Tomas Berdych in a tense two-and-a-half hour semifinal on Friday.
The Swiss beat Berdych for the eighth straight time, winning 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4 to set up a final with Marin Cilic.
Cilic earlier on Friday beat Sam Querrey in four sets to reach his first Wimbledon decider.
After becoming the oldest Wimbledon finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974 – who was in attendance for Friday’s semifinals – Federer will face the man who “crushed” him in the 2014 US Open semifinal, and who held three match points against the Swiss in last year’s Wimbledon quarters.
“It was a good match (against Berdych). He’s got power, and so has Marin. So I’m in for a tough one. Plus we had a great one here last year. Also at the US Open, he played unreal there against me. So I know it’s going to be tough,” Federer said.
“I’m going to try to play within myself. I have to play offensive myself. If you give Marin now time on the ball he can finish points nicely. The court is still playing quite fast. It helps on my serve, but it also helps him. I’m sure it’s going to be a close match.”
As has been the case in many of Berdych’s 25 meetings with Federer – and against other members of the Big Four – the Czech pushed the Swiss all the way yet lapsed in the most crucial moments.
Both men were largely inseparable in the first two sets; Federer gained an early break in the first set only for Berdych to snatch it back, while both had break point chances in the second set only to serve their way out of trouble to avert disaster. They traded impressive winners with head-scratching errors; momentum vacillated from one end of the court to the other.
But in the tiebreaks, Federer flourished as Berdych failed.
The 11th seed missed a sitter of a forehand into the tape that gave Federer an insurmountable 5-3 lead in the first set breaker. In the second set tiebreak it was Federer’s forehand which produced a flurry of winners to help him build a 5-1 lead.
But as Berdych started to rein in Federer’s lead – closing the gap from 5-1 to 6-4 – he shot himself in the foot when he dumped a backhand into the net off Federer’s high, looping, backhand return.
There was no coming back from two-sets-to-love down.
Berdych continued to fight; he forced a pair of errors from Federer in the sixth game to reach 15-40, only for Federer to produce four big serves – three of them aces – to hold for 3-3.
In the next game Federer then picked off a volley to reach break point and converted when his bullet-like backhand return drew an error from the Czech.
With the break in hand, Federer didn’t falter, closing out the straight-sets victory in two hours, 18 minutes.
“I thought it was close. Even though I feel like it reminded me of the matches I’ve had this tournament on some occasions, there were chances for the opponent. I was able to come up with the goods when it mattered,” Federer said.
“The breakers, I played good in the breakers, or if my opponents didn’t play well in the breakers, I was able to close it out. Never played with any sense of panic, which is so important when it gets to crunch time.
“It was the toughest match (today). I guess so, yes. It was close. I’m happy I won all these big points today.”
24 July 2017
What made Serena Williams' Australian Open victory in January all the more astounding was ... More
20 July 2017
Serena Williams is the most fashionable tennis player on the planet, according to a new li... More
12 April 2017
A year ago Belinda Bencic was a rising star in the world's top 10 - now, disconcertingly, ... More