The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CHUCK CULPEPPER WIM­BLE­DON, ENG­LAND — The Wash­ing­ton Post

Hav­ing spent the 2016 Wim­ble­don fi­nal Sun­day al­ready gone and in a cloud of doubt, Roger Fed­erer will spend this one in an­other set­ting al­to­gether. He will re­turn this Sun­day to the Cen­tre Court so fa­mil­iar to him that he ought to be al­lowed an easy chair here, and he will pur­sue yet an­other turn at the un­prece­dented.

Af­ter his 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 pas­sage through To­mas Berdych in the sec­ond semi­fi­nal on Fri­day, Fed­erer will op­pose Marin Cilic, the No. 6-ranked Croa­t­ian who ended the long, wind­ing, break­through slog of Amer­i­can Sam Quer­rey by 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.

If Fed­erer can de­feat Cilic, he will have an eighth Wim­ble­don men’s sin­gles ti­tle, more than any player ever in an event with a gi­gan­tic “ever,” hav­ing be­gun in 1887.

There wasn’t much air be­tween Fed­erer and Berdych as they tan­gled for the 25th time, a 35-year-old in his 70th Grand Slam (Fed­erer) and a 31-year-old in his 55th (Berdych). Both knew how to play the mo­ment, no­body cracked much, and Fed­erer made Berdych crack only just enough as he ran his set record this Wim­ble­don to 16-0.

He gained a 3-1 lead in the first-set tiebreaker with an ap­proach that whirred dev­il­ishly into the cor­ner and set up a back­hand vol­ley into the open court. He held onto that from there. He gained a 5-1 lead in the sec­ond-set tiebreaker with the help of three straight win­ners: a de­stroyed fore­hand re­turn, a fore­hand that dove down obe­di­ently to the base­line and a fore­hand pass­ing shot pulled across the court. To those, which sup­plied a 4-1 lead, he added an in­side-out fore­hand that both zoomed and sang, coax­ing a wide fore­hand out of Berdych.

Oth­er­wise, Fed­erer pro­vided the cus­tom­ary gasps here and there at his un­likely shots, but also hung on through a pe­riod mid­way through the match when his first serve left him for a while and Berdych’s cal­i­bre shone. When he broke Berdych’s serve for only the sec­ond time at 3-3 in the third set, it grew clear Fed­erer was bound for a match with Cilic, who routed Fed­erer in the 2014 U.S. Open semi­fi­nals and had him pinned down here last year in the Wim­ble­don quar­ter­fi­nals un­til Fed­erer with­stood a two-set deficit and a chock­ablock fourth-set tiebreaker that ended 11-9, win­ning in five sets.

From that match, Fed­erer went on to a semi­fi­nal with Mi­los Raonic, which Fed­erer lost from a two-set­sto-one lead, and spent a har­row­ing fi­nal game of the fourth set spray­ing around dou­ble faults in an un­usual scene. It would be his last match of last sea­son, by de­mand of his left knee. At that mo­ment, it seemed im­prob­a­ble that, come the Wim­ble­don Sun­day of 2017, he would seek his sec­ond Grand Slam ti­tle of the three played so far this year.

His op­po­nent wound up to be Cilic, who will make his Wim­ble­don fi­nal de­but. Dur­ing Fridya’s first semi­fi­nal, it was Quer­rey who seemed to steer ca­pa­bly to­ward what would have been a fourth con­sec­u­tive five-set match in his ster­ling Wim­ble­don.

Then things turned, and rar­efied qual­ity pre­vailed. Cilic hoarded five of the last six games to snuff out the thing.


Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer re­turns a shot to Czech Repub­lic’s To­mas Berdych dur­ing their semi­fi­nal match Fri­day.

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