Fed­erer beats Nadal, will face Djokovic for ti­tle

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Sam Farmer

WIM­BLE­DON, Eng­land — Roger Fed­erer de­feated Rafael Nadal in a Wim­ble­don men’s semi­fi­nal Fri­day to reach his 12th fi­nal at this sto­ried event.

In a match marked by long ral­lies from the base­line, Fed­erer won 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, pump­ing his arms tri­umphantly as Nadal’s fi­nal shot sailed long.

“I’m ex­hausted,” Fed­erer said. “It was tough at the end. Rafa played un­be­liev­able shots to stay in the match .... Always with Rafa it’s very spe­cial.

“I had spells where I was serv­ing re­ally well, and the big­gest points in the match went my way.”

Although Fed­erer-Nadal is one of the great­est ri­val­ries in sports, the two had not played each other at Wim­ble­don in 11 years, since their epic fi­nal in 2008, which many peo­ple be­lieve is the great­est match in the his­tory of the sport.

Fed­erer will play Sun­day against top-seeded No­vak Djokovic, a five-time Wim­ble­don win­ner who de­feated Roberto Bautista Agut to ad­vance.

Fed­erer, who im­proved to 12-1 in Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nals, has achieved his 31st Grand Slam fi­nal and has ex­tended his lead atop the all-time list for most fi­nals ap­pear­ances in men’s singles for a Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

Fed­erer has at­tained his most Grand Slam success at Wim­ble­don in terms of ti­tles won (eight), matches won (101) and fi­nals reached (13).

He’s bid­ding to be­come the sec­ond player in his­tory to win nine singles ti­tles. Martina Navratilov­a is the only per­son to have achieved that mile­stone, win­ning nine singles ti­tles be­tween 1976 and 1986.

What’s more, at 37 years, 340 days, Fed­erer

aims to be­come the first man in the Open era to win five Grand Slam ti­tles af­ter turn­ing 30. He’s cur­rently tied with Rod Laver, Ken Rose­wall, and Nadal, all of whom have four.

This was the 40th meet­ing be­tween Fed­erer and Nadal, with Nadal still hav­ing an over­all ad­van­tage of 24-16. How­ever, Fed­erer has won six of the past seven and leads on grass 3-1, with all of the pre­vi­ous three meet­ings tak­ing place in the Wim­ble­don fi­nals, in 2006, ‘07 and ‘08.

Djokovic de­feated Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, leav­ing him one step from com­plet­ing his bid to defend his tour­na­ment ti­tle.

Djokovic was fac­ing a for­mi­da­ble opponent, one who had beaten him in two pre­vi­ous meet­ings this year. How­ever, Djokovic had a far eas­ier path to the fi­nals than Fed­erer or Nadal.

“I had to dig deep,” Djokovic said. “Re­gard­less of that, (Bautista Agut) was not over­whelmed by the sta­dium or the oc­ca­sion. He played re­ally well.

“I got a bit tight, and it was a very close open­ing four or five games of the third set. That’s where the match could have gone dif­fer­ent ways, and I’m glad it went my way.”

For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, all four of the men’s semi­fi­nal­ists were 30 or older, and this year’s quar­tet set the Grand Slam record for the old­est com­bined age of men’s singles semi­fi­nal­ists in the Open era (134 years).

This will be the 22nd time a Grand Slam fi­nal fea­tures a show­down be­tween two mem­bers for the so­called Big Three — Fed­erer, Nadal and Djokovic.

CLIVE BRUN­SKILL/GETTY IMAGES/TNS

Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land cel­e­brates vic­tory in his Men's Singles semi-fi­nal match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on Fri­day in Lon­don, Eng­land.

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