Home­stretch

Fed­erer beats Mur­ray in straight sets to reach 10th Wim­ble­don fi­nal

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Fed­erer beats Mur­ray in straight sets to reach 10th Wim­ble­don fi­nal.

Play­ing the kind of un­touch­able ten­nis that has brought him 17 Grand Slam ti­tles, Roger Fed­erer beat Andy Mur­ray in straight sets Fri­day to reach his 10th Wim­ble­don fi­nal and put him within one vic­tory of a record eighth cham­pi­onship at the All Eng­land Club.

Rid­ing a dom­i­nant serve that pro­duced 20 aces, keep­ing re­lent­less pres­sure on Mur­ray with his re­turns and break­ing at the end of each set, Fed­erer put on a supreme grass-court per­for­mance to out­class his Bri­tish ri­val 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.

“I played so well on the big­gest oc­ca­sion to­day, and that’s prob­a­bly why I got it,’’ Fed­erer said. “Def­i­nitely one of the best matches I’ve played in my ca­reer.’’

The win sent Fed­erer into his 26th Grand Slam fi­nal, where he will face de­fend­ing cham­pion Novak Djokovic in Sun­day’s cham­pi­onship match. The topranked Serb beat Richard Gas­quet 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4 to ad­vance to his fourth fi­nal in five years.

It will be a re­peat of last year’s fi­nal, won by Djokovic in five sets.

“Novak’s been the best player for a few years now,’’ Fed­erer said. “He’s made it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the guys to win big tour­na­ments. ... I know how I can beat him, but this is a dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sion. We’ve been both been there be­fore. I re­ally hope I can get this one on Sun­day.’’

Fed­erer has a 20-19 ca­reer record against Djokovic, who is go­ing for his third Wim­ble­don and ninth Grand Slam ti­tle.

“We all know how good he is,’’ Djokovic said of Fed­erer. “He’s the great­est ever. There’s not enough praises for what he does. This is where he loves to play. This is where he plays his best ten­nis. The Cen­tre Court of Wim­ble­don, seven ti­tles. It’s his court.’’

Djokovic was twice treated by a trainer on his left shoul­der near the end of the sec­ond set against Gas­quet. He said he woke up with a stiff shoul­der but said the ail­ment is not se­ri­ous.

“It’ll be fine for the next match,’’ he said.

Fed­erer, who ran his record in Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nals to 10-0, is the old­est man to reach the fi­nal since Ken Rose­wall fin­ished run­ner-up in 1974 at the age of 39.

If he can beat Djokovic, Fed­erer will be­come first man to win eight Wim­ble­don ti­tles. In 2012, he tied Pete Sam­pras and 1880s player Wil­liam Ren­shaw with seven.

“I need to keep it up for one more match to re­ally make it the per­fect cou­ple of weeks,’’ Fed­erer said.

Fed­erer ex­tended his ca­reer record against Mur­ray to 13-11, in­clud­ing 5-1 in Grand Slams.

This was the first time they’ve met here since 2012, when Fed­erer beat Mur­ray in the Wim­ble­don fi­nal and the Bri­ton won in straight sets a few weeks later on Cen­tre Court in the Olympic fi­nal.

“I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve played in a loss or not,’’ Mur­ray said Fri­day. “It’s tough to know just now. But I def­i­nitely don’t feel like I played a bad match.’’

If any­one thought the 33year-old Fed­erer was past his prime, this match against Mur­ray dis­pelled any of those thoughts. The sec­ond-seeded Swiss served as well as he ever has, sav­ing one break point in the open­ing game of the match and never fac­ing another the rest of the way against one of the best re­turn­ers in the game.

Fed­erer won 70 of 91 points on serve and, af­ter the first game, was taken to deuce only once on serve.

“Def­i­nitely it was one of my best serv­ing days of my ca­reer,’’ said Fed­erer, who has been bro­ken only once, by Gilles Si­mon in the quar­ter­fi­nals, end­ing a streak of 116 ser­vice holds in a row go­ing back to the warm-up tour­na­ment in Halle, Ger­many.

“That’s def­i­nitely the best he served against me,’’ Mur­ray said.

Fed­erer smacked un­touch­able serves of 125 mph, but also took off the pace and hit the lines with well-placed de­liv­er­ies. At the same time, he flicked back Mur­ray’s 130 mph de­liv­er­ies with quick re­flex re­turns to keep his op­po­nent guess­ing. When Mur­ray put in sec­ond serves in the 80s, Fed­erer stepped in and knocked off re­turn win­ners.

“I kept the pres­sure up,’’ said Fed­erer, who piled up 56 win­ners and had only 11 un­forced er­rors, com­pared to 35 and 17 for Mur­ray.

The match fea­tured a thrilling, 15-minute game near the end of the sec­ond set with Mur­ray serv­ing at 5-4 down. Mur­ray fell be­hind love-40, but saved a to­tal of five set points as the game went to deuce seven times and in­cluded fu­ri­ous cor­ner-to-cor­ner ral­lies. Mur­ray fi­nally held with a 129 mph ace.

AP PHOTO

Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land cel­e­brates win­ning the 1st set against Andy Mur­ray of Bri­tain in their men's sin­gles semi­fi­nal match at the All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Cham­pi­onships in Wim­ble­don, Lon­don, Fri­day.

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