Federer into 11th Wimbledon final - will face Marin Cilic for eighth title
Roger Federer is here once more, back in a Wimbledon final for the 11th time, back on the verge of an eighth championship at the All England Club, more than any man has collected in the storied, century-plus history of the place.
Nearly 36, and the father of four, Federer continued his resurgent season and unchall-enged run through this fortnight by conjuring up just enough brilliance to beat 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 yesterday.
"Can't almost believe it's true again," Federer said.
He has won every set he's played in this year's tournament, and while he did not dominate the semi-final, he was never in much trouble. Tomorrow, Federer will face 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, who reached his first final at the All England Club by eliminating 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the US 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 with the help of 25 aces and some terrific returning.
Since equalling Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1880s) with a seventh title at Wimbledon in 2012, Federer has come this close before to No. 8, but he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.
Now comes another chance.
Federer would be the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, which dates to 1968. As it is, he's the oldest finalist since Ken Rosewall was 39 in 1974.
Also noteworthy: This is Federer's second major final of 2017. After taking off the last half of last year while letting a surgically repaired left knee heal, he won the Australian Open in January for his record-extending 18th Grand Slam trophy.
"Giving your body rest from time to time is a good thing as we see now," Federer said. "And I'm happy it's paying off because for a second, of course, there is doubts there that maybe one day you'll never be able to come back and play a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. But it happened, and it's happened many, many times this week."
Now only Cilic stands in Federer's way at Wimbledon. They met in the quarter-finals a year ago when Federer came all the way back after dropping the first two sets to win in five, before exiting in the semi-finals.
They love their history around these parts and they love Federer and, above all, they love watching him make history. Spectators roared at many of his best offerings against Berdych, who was seeded 11th.
Trailing 3-2 in the third set, for example, Federer faced a couple of break points at 15-40 and extricated himself from that sticky situation this way: ace at 107 mph (173 kph), ace at 116 mph (187 kph), service winner at 120 mph (194 kph), ace at 119 mph (192 kph). And in the very next game, he surged to a 4-3 lead by breaking Berdych. That was pretty much that.
There were other moments of magic. The down-the-line forehand-passing winner that landed right on the opposite baseline in the second set, leaving Berdych slumping his shoulders. Or the no-look, flicked backhand winner several games later that not many players would even try, let alone manage to do.