Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Roger Federer downs Rafael Nadal to set up Djokovic Wimbledon title duel

Roger Federer downs Rafael Nadal to set up Djokovic Wimbledon title duel

The soon-to-be 38-year-old produced a superb performance to see off old adversary Nadal 7-6 1-6 6-3 6-4 in a semi-final packed with excitement and emotion.

Djokovic, however, has got more business to attend to as he prepares to face 37-year-old eight-times Wimbledon champion and number two seed Federer in Sunday's showpiece. Two of those defeats were in 2014 and 2015 against Djokovic; the other came in 2008 against Nadal. "He played little bit better than me, I think".

While Djokovic did see a brief dip in form during 2017, his resurgence since then has been truly remarkable and he is now the reigning Wimbledon champion. When Bautista Agut's shot hit the net tape, popped in the air and slid over for a victor that tied their semifinal at a set apiece, Djokovic motioned to the roaring fans, sarcastically encouraging folks to get louder. "That was where the match could have gone both ways but thankfully it went my way".

Nadal was under pressure straight away in that fourth set, broken in the third game, as the match then dipped into the grinding trenches, the Spaniard serving in the ninth game to stay alive, twilight descending.

One key for Federer, however, was that his rebuilt backhand, hit strong and flat more frequently than it used to be, held steady against Nadal's bullwhip of a lefty forehand.

As entertaining as that first semifinal was - including a 45-stroke point won by Djokovic - it was merely a tasty appetizer ahead of the day's delectable main course.

"It's definitely, definitely going to go down as one of my favourite matches to look back at ... because it's Rafa, it's Wimbledon".

"It was a joy to play today", Federer said.

For some reason, he has never quite captured the hearts of the Centre Court crowd in the same way as Federer, Murray or Rafael Nadal, but insists that will not affect his focus.

Against expectations, Federer brushed off the disappointment of that 6-1 set and wrestled the initiative back, winning the lengthier rallies and baseline exchanges against a player so used to grinding his opponents down.

However, Federer said he won't be over-awed by the challenge as he chases a 21st major and Djokovic targets a 16th.

In the third, Djokovic broke for a 4-2 lead and then saved two break points in the next game - the second with a backhand victor down the line after a 45-stroke rally.

"But I think the biggest points in the match went my way". Djokovic won 14 of the next 18 points while pulling out to a 3-0 lead - and he didn't need to produce much magic to do so. Djokovic broke to lead 2-1 in the fourth, and again for 4-1, then needed a handful of match points to seal the victory. He double-faulted on his first set point but converted the second with a volley victor that clipped the net cord. And when Bautista Agut held his first service game of the third set, Djokovic swung his racket towards the grass in exasperation.

The Wimbledon semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut was briefly interrupted after a fan became ill on Centre Court. But for an erratic collapse in the second frame, he was in command throughout the match - including a first-set tiebreak - with Nadal straining in pursuit, racing around the court on unreliable knees.

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