Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Federer sets up title battle with Djokovic

AFP, LONDON

Roger Federer celebrates winning his Wimbledon semi-final against Rafael Nadal on Friday in London.

Photo: Reuters

Roger Federer on Friday reached his 12th Wimbledon final, defeating old rival Rafael Nadal “in one of his favorite ever matches,” 11 years after he lost their epic 2008 title showdown at the All England Club, a match widely regarded as the greatest ever played.

The 37-year-old eight-time champion won 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the pair’s 40th career meeting to move into his 31st Grand Slam final, where he is to face defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Top seed and four-time winner Djokovic reached his sixth Wimbledon final and 25th at the majors with a nervy 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Spain’s 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

“Obviously extremely high,” Federer said when asked to rate his latest clash with Nadal. “It’s always very, very cool to play against Rafa here. It’s definitely going to go down as one of my favorite matches to look back at because it’s Rafa, it’s at Wimbledon.”

Federer is the third-oldest to play in a Grand Slam final after 39-year-old Ken Rosewall featured in the 1974 Wimbledon and US Open finals.

However, he is to have his work cut out for him today if he is to secure a 21st major title, as he trails Djokovic 22-25 in career meetings.

“Novak is the defending champion and he has shown that this week,” Federer said. “He has been really solid. I will try and push him to the brink, but it will be difficult as it’s not for nothing that he is No. 1.”

“I am sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity,” Nadal said. “But at the same time I created another opportunity to be in another final of a Grand Slam.”

“At the same time, today is sad because for me I know chances are not forever,” he added.

Meanwhile, Djokovic will be looking to add another Wimbledon title to his Australian and US Open crowns.

“This has been a remarkable tournament for me and to be in another final is a dream come true,” the top seed said. “I had to dig deep. Roberto was playing his first semi-final at a Grand Slam and he was not really overwhelmed.”

Their match also featured the longest point ever recorded at Wimbledon by number of strokes.

After exchanging dozens of strokes during the third set, Djokovic finally smacked a backhand down the line with the 45th shot of the rally to save a break point, then held serve to make it 5-2.

According to official statistics, the 45-stroke rally was the longest at Wimbledon since they started tracking point lengths in 2005.

However, for Djokovic, the important part was the effect it had on what was a very closely fought duel until that stage.

“At one stage of the match, it could have gone [a] different way. Was very close in the third set,” Djokovic said. “Obviously, winning that game was crucial for me. It gave me more confidence and relief so I could swing more freely in the next games.”

Additional reporting by AP

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