Wimbledon: Roger Federer seals semifinal berth with victory over Kei Nishikori
Federer and Nadal will meet for the 40th time on Friday (Image source: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Roger Federer moved into familiar terrain at Wimbledon as he dispatched Kei Nishikori, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, to seal a place in the semifinals and record his 100th victory at SW19.

There, he will face Rafael Nadal, their first meeting on grass since the epic final at The All-England Club in 2008. The Swiss certainly arrives with his swagger restored after last year’s disappointing quarterfinal exit to Kevin Anderson, those demons exorcised with a commanding performance against Nishikori after a slow start.

On the challenge of Nadal, who dispatched Sam Querrey in straights sets on the adjacent No.1 Court, the world number three said: “We have a lot of information on Rafa and he has a lot of information about us, so you can either dive into tactics like mad for the next two days or you can just say ‘you know what it’s grass court tennis’.

“I’m going to come out and play attacking tennis and if he can defend that, too good, and if he can’t well then that’s good for me.”

Nishikori, who had dropped only a single set en route to this last eight encounter, threatened to spoil the party when he came out of the blocks firing, breaking Federer in the opening game of the match and striking the ball with conviction.

Federer weathered the early storm from Nishikori (Image source: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Federer weathered the early storm from Nishikori (Image source: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Momentum shift

Where in previous years Federer may have wilted, he stood tall amid the Japanese onslaught and broke to open set two. The Swiss upped his aggression, depriving Nishikori of oxygen from the baseline and in the blink of an eye it was a three-set shootout.

The 37-year-old told the BBC: “I had some small chances [in the first set] but Kei was the better player. It was really important for me to get the lead in the second set and that I should protect it at the same time and then start maybe more of a normal match.”

If it was to be a normal match then the start of the third set was the surest indication that the match would only be swaying in one direction. Federer embarked on a gradual erosion of the Japanese’s serve, fashioning a break point immediately in set three before eventually securing the breakthrough in a lengthy seventh game.

He would offer Nishikori a glimmer of hope as he faltered when serving for the third set, but on the only break opportunity the 29-year-old would fashion after the first set, he arrowed a backhand return inches long.

The Japanese’s service games were now an ordeal, unable to win two points in a row with Federer peppering his baseline, and the vital break of serve arrived for the Swiss in the ninth game. Nishikori had saved five break opportunities in the preceding games in the fourth set, but he mistimed a forehand on the sixth and with it went the match.