Roger Federer put on another Wimbledon masterclass to keep his dream alive of an Open-era record eighth title at the All England Club with a straight-sets victory over Andy Murray in the semifinals. Both players had come into the eagerly awaited matchup in fine form and continued that in front of a Centre Court crowd often left gasping in disbelief. But it was Federer, playing at an extraordinary high level throughout, that had the edge, gaining a crucial break of serve at the death of each set en route to a 7-5 7-5 6-4 victory.
For Federer, a meeting with Novak Djokovic on Sunday and a rematch of last year’s final now beckons. The Swiss suffered an agonizing five-set loss on that occasion as Grand Slam title No. 18 continued to elude him. But, while his chances of landing another Major continue to be written off by many, the 33-year-old emphatically demonstrated his remarkable powers of longevity on Friday in a performance that must surely rank among his very best.
Federer had been broken just once en route to his 10th appearance in the final four, and it was his pin-point accurate serving that was the foundation of his semifinal win. Murray forced a break point in the very first game of the match, but failed to get a single glimpse of another as he struggled to make any impression on Federer’s service games that frequently flew by without the Swiss breaking sweat. Federer sent down 20 aces and got more than three-quarters of his first serves in with a serving display of the very highest quality.
Murray, too, was hardly serving, or indeed playing badly, and the opening set appeared headed for a tiebreak before Federer began to punish the 2013 champion’s weakness on his second serve. When Murray failed to pick up a backhand pass at the net the first set was headed the way of Federer
This was a very different contest from their last meeting, when Federer annihilated Murray for the loss of just one game at the ATP World Tour Finals at the end of 2014. Murray, rejuvenated this year, wasn’t going to go away easily, but still he was having to battle with everything he had just to stay alive against arguably the greatest player ever to pick up a racquet.
That was especially true in an epic 10th game of the second set. Murray clung on to save five break points and finally energize a crowd in his favor that for much of the match was split between cheering on its home favorite and a legend of Centre Court. Yet it was symbolic of the match that straight after that 15-minute marathon game, Federer went and held serve in less than a minute. It must have surely been demoralizing for Murray, who, perhaps failed to take the required initiative or show enough variety to upset the relentless rhythm of his opponent. And, sure enough, with Murray serving to stay alive in the second set once again, Federer brought up a sixth set point and this time grabbed it with both hands.
The task of coming back from two sets down against Federer playing in this kind of form on his favorite court was an daunting one. And, while Murray continued to show admirable resolve, a similar fate to the first two sets awaited him as he was broken serving at 4-5 to bow out and ensure a final between the tournament's top two seeds.