London: The cry came from the shadows of the Centre Court stands when Roger Federer fell behind in his Olympic semi-final. “Not enough, Roger!” a British spectator shouted.
And so Federer gave the crowd more — in the end, more tennis than anyone anticipated. He won the final set of an Olympic marathon 19-17 to achieve another milestone victory on his favourite stage.
Federer clinched the first singles medal of his career Friday, rallying past Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17. At 4 hours, 26 minutes, it was the longest three-set men’s match of the Open era.
In the other semi-final, Great Britain’s Andy Murray defeated Serbia's Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5.
Federer converted only two of 13 break-point chances, the second coming in the next-to-last game, and had several nervous moments. But he held serve to stay in the match 12 times in the final set.
With the comeback victory, four-time Olympian Federer is assured of at least a silver.
Serena Williams also clinched her first Olympic singles medal, beating No. 1-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2.
On Saturday, Serena will face first-time Olympian Maria Sharapova, who beat Russian teammate Maria Kirilenko in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-3.
Serena teamed with sister Venus to win the gold medal in doubles in 2000 and 2008. They had a chance to clinch at least a silver in a semi-final match scheduled later Friday.
In badminton, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei set up a chance for redemption and a re-match with Beijing Games nemesis Lin Dan.
Top seed Lee was at the peak of his powers in a crushing 20-13, 20-14 win over third-seeded Chinese Chen Long. Reigning champion Lin duly played his part by destroying South Korea’s Lee Hyun-il 21-12, 21-10 in the second semi-final.
In athletics, Britain’s Jessica Ennis, meanwhile, had a full house at the Olympic Stadium on its feet in the morning when she ran the fastest heptathlon 100 metres hurdles of all time on the first day of athletics. (agencies)