WIMBLEDON

Federer on the brink of Wimbledon greatness

Federer on the brink of Wimbledon greatness

Clive Brunskill

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Roger Federer is just two wins away from a record eighth Wimbledon title but faces a tricky trip through the land of the giants if he is to become the tournament's oldest champion. The 35-year-old Swiss has defied time and logic to reach a 12th semi-final at the All England Club where he will face 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych on Friday.

Federer celebrates after beating Milos Raonic in the quarter finals.

Physical test awaits Federer at Wimbledon

If he gets past the Czech for the 19th time in 25 meetings, Federer will face either Sam Querrey or Marin Čilić in Sunday's final. The contrast between the 18-time Grand Slam title winner and the other three contenders could not be more stark. Federer stands 6ft 1in (1.85m) and weighs in at 187lbs; Berdych is 6ft 5ins and 200 lbs. Querrey and Čilić tower over him at 6ft 6ins and 210lbs and 196lbs respectively.

Federer, bidding to reach an 11th final at Wimbledon, is therefore aware of the physical threats posed by his rivals. “All three guys are taller and stronger than I am. I've got to figure out a different way, carve my way through somehow with my slice and my spins, my consistency. Being the favourite or not the favourite doesn't matter. These other guys are all big hitters. I feel like they will have their say in the outcome of the matches. They've got big serves, big forehands, they are big hitters”, he said on the eve of tomorrow’s showdown.

Federer has made the semi-finals without dropping a set and has been broken just three times. He even managed to match Milos Raonic -- who boasts the second fastest serve of the tournament at a blistering 142mph (228.5km/h) -- with 11 aces in his quarter-final victory.

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He is the second oldest semi-finalist after Ken Rosewall who finished runner-up in 1974 at the age of 39. And he’s also the overwhelming favourite after big guns Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic suffered injury-hit exits on Wednesday and Rafael Nadal lost in the last 16.

Tomas Berdych defeated Djokovic on Day 9.

Federer is reaping the rewards of pruning his schedule with Wimbledon just his seventh event of 2017. He skipped the 2016 and 2017 French Opens which were won by Djokovic and Nadal. After losing to Raonic in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, he shut down his season to rest a knee injury which had already required surgery earlier in 2016. “I'm playing very well. I'm rested. I'm fresh and I'm confident”, he told reporters.

Berdych, meanwhile, will not be overawed by facing Federer having defeated him in four sets in the 2010 quarter-finals on his way to his only appearance in a Slam final. He is in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the second successive season after a poor year at the Slams in which he exited the Australian Open in the third round and Roland Garros after two matches.

“Roger is an exceptional tennis player; he's the greatest of them all. It's a great challenge to have the opportunity to play him", the 31-year-old said today.

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