Six-time champion Roger Federer reached a record eighth Wimbledon final when he defeated world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
In the pair’s 27th meeting, Federer booked his place in his 24th Grand Slam final. Victory tomorrow will take the 30-year-old level with Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon wins and allow him to reclaim the world number one ranking and clinch a 17th career Grand Slam crown.
Djokovic, who was bidding to reach a fifth successive Grand Slam final, had defeated Federer six times in their last seven meetings. But Federer, playing in a record 32nd major semi-final, was not to be denied as he buried the heartache of having been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last two years.
He also took his record of semi-final victories to eight out of eight at the All England Club.
“I played a great match today,” said Federer. “Novak played great in the first two sets too, but the third set was key. I stepped it up then. He had break points in the ninth game of the third set. It was a tough match.”
Federer said he was delighted to be back in the final, having lost in the quarter-finals to Tomas Berdych in 2010 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year.
“It was a shock for some people when I lost to Berdych, but not for me. They said ‘How are we going to survive a Wimbledon final without you?’ I just went on vacation and prepared for my next tournaments.”
Djokovic, 25, admitted he had been outplayed in the key moments.
“I felt my energy levels drop at the start of the fourth set, I played a couple of sloppy games and had a low percentage of first serves,” said the Serb. “It’s difficult to get rhythm and control of the match in those circumstances. He was the better player in the important moments. I expected him to be at his top level; I expected myself to be at that level too, but I wasn’t.”
With Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar and pop singer Kylie Minogue watching from the Royal Box, Federer provided early entertainment by easing to the first set in just 24 minutes. Djokovic hit back in the second, breaking with a razor-sharp backhand down the line for a 2-0 lead. The match was level when the champion fired his fifth ace of the contest to take the second set. However, from that point on, Djokovic could not stop Federer and while there were fierce exchanges, it was the Swiss’ day.
‘Favourite tag means nothing’
Meanwhile, Serena Williams insists she will have to deliver the performance of a lifetime to win her fifth Wimbledon title against Agnieszka Radwanska in today’s women’s final.
Serena is widely expected to overpower Radwanska after the American served up a masterclass during a 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) semi-final victory over world number two Victoria Azarenka.
But Serena has too much respect for the Polish third seed.
“Radwanska has been playing well,” said Serena. “I really need to go and be ready to hit a lot of shots. She has great hands. If I come out flat, I won’t win.”
Radwanska in health scare
Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, who faces Serena Williams for the women’s title today, insists she will be fit despite suffering a health scare which caused her to cancel a scheduled news conference.
After pulling out of her pre-final interview session, Radwanska confirmed she is fighting breathing problems and has been struggling to talk. “Unfortunately I have picked up upper respiratory illness, it’s affecting my nose and throat,” said the Pole. “I haven’t been well for a few days but the most important thing is that I’m feeling good on the court and playing some good tennis.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.