Federer reaches eighth Wimbledon final
Originally published on: 06/07/12 00:00
The 30-year-old Swiss produced a virtuoso grass court display in the semi-finals to ensure he will contest the All England Club showpiece for the first time since 2009.
Beaten in his last three encounters with Djokovic – in semi-finals at Roland Garros, Rome and at last year’s US Open – Federer was in fine fettle during his semi-final win over the world No.1.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion produced a serving masterclass, consistently calling on his overhead to chalk up easy points against arguably the game's finest when it comes to protracted baseline exchanges. Rallies, albeit punctuated by one or two enthralling trades, were few and far between and that played into the hands of the six-time champion in his first ever grass court meeting with Djokovic.
Having split the opening two sets after 54 minutes with a break apiece, Federer was quick to press his intent in the third. He forced Djokovic to fend off a break point in the Serb's opening service game and forced two more at 2-3, only for Djokovic to save the first after a gripping rallied exchange, before calling on his own serve to get him out of trouble on the second.
At 5-4, the Swiss' pressure paid off. Djokovic played a poor service game, dropping to 15-40 after firing a routine smash wildly long and, keen not to let another opportunity come and go, Federer this time capitalised to take the set.
“Unfortunately I had a bad service game on 5-4, and obviously he uses his opportunities when they're presented,” lamented Djokovic afterwards, identifying that moment as a real turning point.
“[At] the start of the fourth set I dropped in the energy level, I thought,” he continued. “I played really a couple of sloppy games, very slow, with no pace, you know, very low percentage of first serves.”
By that point, the match was Federer’s for the taking and he seized his chance. An immediate break in the fourth set afforded him the perfect start, and with Djokovic toiling to find a way back in, the Swiss remained composed and carried his advantage right to the end, securing a spot in his first Grand Slam final since the 2011 French Open after triumphing in two hours and 19 minutes.
Should Federer win Sunday’s final, he will reclaim the world No.1 ranking for the first time since May 2010 and in doing so match Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles and 286 weeks at the top of the ladder.
“Of course, there's a lot on the line for me,” admitted Federer. “I'm not denying that. I have a lot of pressure, as well. I'm looking forward to that. That's what I work hard for. I've worked extremely hard since I lost that match point against Novak last year at the US Open. My run has been extremely good. Now I have a chance at world No. 1, at the title again all at once.
“It's a big match for me and I hope I can keep my nerves. I'm sure I can. Then hopefully win the match. But we'll see about that.”