London: Roger Federer moved into his 12th Wimbledon men’s singles final, further extending his own record, with a hard-fought defeat of Rafael Nadal in front of an enraptured Centre Court crowd.
The eight-time Swiss champion won 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a titanic contest lasting three hours, two minutes.
Federer took the first set with a tie-break, winning the final four points in succession. Nadal responded impressively breaking Federer twice to take the second set 6-1 in 37 minutes.
Federer, however, regained his poise and form, playing high quality tennis to take the third set and move to 5-3 in the fourth.
Nadal saved two match points on his own serve at 3-5 but could not force home a break point at 4-5. Another two match points came, and went, but at the fifth attempt Federer clinched the match.
“I’m exhausted,” said Federer, adding, “It was tough at the end — Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match.”
Federer meets Novak Djokovic in the final, a repeat of the finals of 2014 and 2015 both of which were won by Djokovic.
Defending champion Djokovic reached his sixth Wimbledon final.
The world No.1 and four-time Wimbledon winner booked his 25th Grand Slam final appearance with a nervy 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Spain’s 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
“This has been a remarkable tournament for me and to be in another final is a dream come true,” said the top seed.
“I had to dig deep, Roberto was playing his first semifinal at a Grand Slam and he was not really overwhelmed,” Djokovic said.
“It was a really close opening four to five games of the third set that could have gone either way — thankfully it went mine,” he added.