Federer makes it 40
Originally published on 06/07/16 00:00
In the best match of the 2016 Championships so far, Federer came back from a two sets to love deficit and saved three match points against former US Open champion Marin Cilic to take his place in his 11th Wimbledon semi final.
Cilic looked to be heading for a repeat of his 2014 US Open semi-final victory when he took a two-set lead on Centre Court, but Federer hung on to claim a 6-7(4) 4-6 6-3 7-6(9) 6-3.
Federer had hardly been tested as he sailed through his first four matches in straight sets. Coming into the quarter-final he had spent a total of six and a half hours on court. On Wednesday he battled with Cilic for three hours and 18 minutes and 34-year-old, who withdrew from the French Open with a back injury and has not played a five-set match since the 2014 US Open, this was a real test, mentally and physically.
“To win a match like this, to test the body, to be out there again fighting, being in a physical battle and winning it is an unbelievable feeling,” said Federer, who also had knee surgery in February. “It was an emotional win, always when you come back from two sets to love, but because of the season that I've had, it's wonderful.”
It is the first time since 2000 that Federer has not won a title coming into Wimbledon. Most recently he failed to defend his Halle crown, losing to German teenager Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
“I was very worried coming here,” admitted Federer. ”I think it was huge for me to play the seven matches I did in Halle and Stuttgart. They served me very well. They gave me so much information to see what I could do, what I couldn't do, how I could play, how I couldn't play."
The 17-time Grand Slam champion had come back from two sets to love down nine times before in his career, but he rates this win as one of the best.
“I am probably going to look back at this as being a great, great match that I played in my career, on Centre Court here at Wimbledon,” he said. “I don't remember coming back from two sets to love here. This is huge for my season and my career. I'm very, very happy.”
Federer will now play Milos Raonic in a repeat of their 2014 semi-final after the Canadian beat Sam Querrey in four sets. For Federer, this will be his 40th Grand Slam semi-final, a record in the Open era. He is also the oldest man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1974.
Even with Wimbledon legend John McEnroe alongside Carlos Moya and Riccardo Piatti in Raonic’s box it would be quite a surprise if the Centre Court crowd change their allegiance on Friday. You suspect most of the 15,000 spectators will be willing Federer to keep his hunt for his 18th Grand Slam title and a record eighth Wimbledon title alive.
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