Sublime Serving Sends Federer To 10th Wimbledon Final
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer outlasted home hope and 2013 titlist Andy Murray 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 in a thrilling semi-final duel.
"Andy's been playing very well for the season," Federer told the BBC following the match. "There is so much expectation riding on the match. I'm unbelievably happy. I played so well in the biggest occasion today.
"I've been serving very well for the entire tournament. I wasn't broken against one of the best returners. I kept the pressure up and went for my shots. I mixed it up like I usually do and kept pushing forward and staying focused. It all worked out really well."
In reaching an unprecedented 10th Wimbledon final, Federer became the oldest men's finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974. The World No. 2 advanced to his 26th major title match, extending the all-time record he took sole ownership of six years ago. Still undefeated in semi-finals at the All England Club, Federer will be looking to capture a record eighth title when he renews his rivalry with top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday. In last year's final, Djokovic prevailed in five gritty sets.
Friday's affair was the 24th FedEx ATP Head2Head clash between Federer and Murray, with the 33-year-old Swiss improving to 13-11. It was their first encounter at the All England Club since splitting meetings during a memorable summer of 2012, with Federer prevailing in the Wimbledon final and Murray exacting revenge for the Olympic gold medal.
Both players started strong, hitting through the ball with conviction in the early stages. Federer was tested early, denying a break point at 30/40 in the opening game and they remained on serve until the 12th game, when the second seed pounced on a 15/40 advantage after rifling a backhand winner. Murray saved one set point with a forehand pass, but Federer capitalised on his second to wrap up the opener in 45 minutes.
The Swiss, who came forward often to apply pressure on the Scot (8/15 net points won), struck 11 aces and 23 winners, making 29 of 34 first serves (85 per cent) in the first set.
The high-quality affair spilled into the second set as both players ratcheted up the intensity. Federer's tactics were clear from the onset, giving Murray little pace to feed off with a barrage of timely slice backhands and inside-out forehands to open up the court.
Perhaps the game of the year came with Federer leading at 5-4, as both players turned in a sublime shotmaking exhibition. Murray's serve would come under siege. A sparkling cross-court running forehand winner that clipped the side tramline and a netted Murray backhand would give the Swiss three set points at 0/40. The Dunblane native did well to send the game to deuce and save two more chances, eventually thumping an ace to hold after a hard-fought 14 minutes.
Federer would need just one minute to hold for 6-5 and kept the pressure on Murray's serve in the 12th game. The seven-time champion would put away a volley on his sixth set point, claiming a two-set lead after one hour and 34 minutes. He struck 18 winners and won a staggering 19/19 first serve points in the second set, while claiming 10/13 at the net.
In the third set, they would remain on serve until the 10th game when Federer once again attacked Murray's serve. He took advantage of his first match point to close out the match after two hours and seven minutes. In total, he fired 56 winners and 20 aces, winning a whopping 84 per cent of first serve points.
Murray was vying to advance to his third Wimbledon title match and ninth in majors. He was contesting his 17th Grand Slam semi-final, extending his record for the most SF appearances by a British man ahead of Fred Perry (13)."He served fantastic, apart from the first game where I had the chance there," said Murray. "I didn't really have any opportunities. That puts pressure on you. The pressure builds throughout the set that way.
"Obviously I got broken right at the end all of the sets. But I didn't actually play a bad match. Played pretty well."