The 40th all-time meeting between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal went the way of the second-seeded Swiss as he advanced past the third-seeded Spaniard with a 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the Wimbledon semifinals on Centre Court.
Federer and Nadal met at the All-England Club for the first time since their legendary 2008 final, won by Nadal 9-7 in the fifth set. Federer triumphed for the third time in four career meetings against the Spaniard and will face defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.
Federer bests Nadal, advances to final against Djokovic
The server was the dominant figure in the opening set as Federer lost just three points in four service while Nadal dropped just two in his three service games. It was the Swiss who had the first break point of the match in the seventh game, but a 21-shot rally ending with a wicked Nadal forehand closed the door.
Federer was then under pressure for the first time at 30-30, but fired down back-to-back aces to hold for a 5-4 lead. With both men looking sharp, playing offense and painting the lines, a tiebreak was inevitable, but not before Nadal rescued his last service game of the set from deuce.
With how dominant each man was on serve, it was a surprise that a pair of minibreaks were achieved by each player, but it was Nadal who would rue his failure to consolidate after twice gaining the initiative and the tiebreaker stood at 3-3. Federer firmly took charge, winning the last five points, capped off by a forehand winner to take a one-set lead.
Nadal fired early warning signs that the second set might be different than the first as he held two break points in Federer's opening service game. The Swiss did well to save both chances, but after bypassing two break points of his own in the Spaniard's service game, the set would take a dramatic turn.
The third seed showed he has twice been a Wimbledon champion, breaking to love and consolidating the lead with an easy hold and suddenly it was 4-1. A second break was achieved when Federer badly framed a forehand and Nadal served for the set, holding to love, the match now level and the outcome thrown into doubt.
Federer regained the form he showed in the opening set, blazing through his first two service games without the loss of a point. He drilled a backhand down the line for 30-30, effortlessly put away a forehand to set up break point and was back in the ascendancy after a lovely backhand volley landed smack on the line, the eight-time champion ahead 3-1.
Nadal aimed to hit back immediately when the Swiss double-faulted to set up two break points, but after missing out on the first chance, a 23-shot rally ended when the third seed fired long, Federer holding for a 4-1 edge. The eight-time champion was threatening to run away with the set, but strong serving got the Spaniard out of further trouble, saving a pair of break points.
Again, it was Federer who was looking to end all doubt as to who would prevail in this third set, but 0-30 was quickly erased as Nadal stormed back to win four straight points, forcing the Swiss to serve out the set. No problem for the second seed as he held to love when Nadal netted, Federer a set away from the final.
Both players held to 30 to begin the fourth set, Federer showcasing his net play with anothet picture-perfect volley. The depth and pace of the groundstrokes from the second seed was taking its toll on Nadal and another laser-like forehand set up two break points.
The Spaniard crushed a winner to reduce the arrears to 30-40, but his backhand was off-target after another blinder by Federer, who led 2-1 and had the final clear in his sights. It was 3-2 after easy holds by each, but Nadal, perhaps staging a last stand, was ahead 15-30. However, Federer responded by winning three points on the trot for a 4-2 advantage.
Sensing the end was indeed near, Federer held without fuss or bother to move within a game of the championship match st 5-3. Nadal, who fended off a challenge by the Swiss in his previous service game, held, saving two match points to force Federer to serve it out. The Spaniard wouldn't go down without a fight, holding a break point, but an errant backhand proved to be costly.
A third match point and a Nadal winner. A fourth chance for Federer to close it out, again a winner from the third seed. A fifth opportunity and this one is taken as Nadal goes long with a backhand, the Swiss avenging a loss to the Spaniars in the Roland Garros semifinals, into the final as he seeks to become the oldest major champion in the Open era.