Roger Federer
Roger Federer celebrates after beating Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Reuters

Roger Federer and Andy Murray were slowed only by the rain on Wednesday as the pair cruised through their quarterfinal contests to set up a heavyweight last four showdown. Federer, the No. 2 seed, beat Frenchman Gilles Simon in straight sets, while home favorite Murray did likewise against the unseeded Vasek Pospisil to get back to the semifinals for the first time since ending Britain’s long title drought at the All England Club two years ago.

From early on, it appeared that only the rain could delay both from setting up a match that has been highly anticipated since the draw was made. Federer has dropped just a single set en route to his ninth appearance in the final four at Wimbledon. And, although he had been pushed to five sets on his only two previous meetings with Simon at Grand Slams, he was barely troubled by the 12th seed this time around. Rain briefly interrupted Federer closing out the first set, and when serving for a second the seven-time champion was broken for the first time at this year’s Championships. Yet, with Simon lacking the weapons to really threaten the Swiss, the roadblocks, including a second rain delay, were only temporary before he wrapped up a 6-3 7-5 6-2 victory in an hour and 35 minutes.

Murray’s victory ended under the roof on Centre Court, as, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watching on, the tournament referee took no chances following the second spell of rain. By that point Murray was already a set to the good against the Canadian, who had spent more than twice the amount of time on court at this year’s Wimbledon, having endured marathon contests in both singles and doubles.

There were signs of that fatigue as the match worse on, but Pospisil acquitted himself well for much of what was his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. And he will surely still be aggrieved at an untimely intervention by umpire Pascal Maria. Serving at 5-5, 30-30 in the second set, Pospisil was called for a time violation and promptly lost the next two points to give up a crucial break. From there, Murray, playing efficiently throughout and not facing a single break point until the final game, served out the second set before breaking in the ninth game of the third set, when Pospisil was called for another timer violation, to go on and claim a 6-4 7-5 6-4 victory.

For both Murray and Federer, it was the ideal way to go into a mouth-watering semifinal. Neither will likely need any reminding of their last meeting, when Federer destroyed Murray for the loss of just one game in the ATP World Tour Finals in London late last year. Their last clash at Wimbledon was notable, too, with Federer winning the 2012 final in four sets to win his 17th and most recent Grand Slam title. leaving Murray in tears. Yet since then the Scot can call upon a Wimbledon victory of his own as well as the experience of beating Federer at the All England Club in the final of the 2012 Olympics.

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