London: Roger Federer reached a ninth Wimbledon final after emerging unscathed from the attack of bullet-serving giant Milos Raonic, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 with a masterful display of the grasscourt arts on Friday.
Chasing a record eighth title at the All England Club, Federer set up a mouth-watering final against top seed and 2011 champion Novak Djokovic, with an almost casual demolition of the 23-year-old Canadian. Raonic looked overawed by the magnitude of the occasion.
Djokovic halted the charge of talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, beating the 11th seed 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (9-7) in an exhilarating see-saw contest to reach the final.
Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, broke in the opening game and then comfortably saw out the first set before breaking decisively in the ninth games of both the second and third sets, with his opponent unable to gain a foothold in the match.
The 32-year-old Swiss played most of the match at walking pace and finished off his opponent in one hour 41 minutes, clenching his fist in a restrained celebration when Raonic hit a backhand return wide on match point.
“I think that was unbelievably effective,” said Federer. “I am extremely happy to be in another final. I have played some great tennis, under pressure as well at times because I didn’t play so well here last year.”
Having reached a 25th Grand Slam final, Federer will go into Sunday’s showpiece with the confidence of an 18-16 winning record against the Serb. “It’s always great, we always have good matches against each other and we have played (each other) a lot in the past six months and it has gone back and forth a little bit,” he said.
Djokovic, the six-times Grand Slam champion, however, did not have it easy on Friday. He had to draw on all the experience gleaned in 23 major semi-finals to get the better of 23-year-old Dimitrov, who was on a roll after winning the pre-Wimbledon tournament at Queen’s Club and downing third-seeded champion Andy Murray in the quarter finals.
“It’s a good win for me. I am really pleased to be part of another entertaining match,” Djokovic said. “Considering that I have lost the past couple of Grand Slam finals — and all these matches I could have won — I am looking forward.”
The Serb, who was runner-up last year, looked to be cruising when he broke again in the third game of the second set. But Dimitrov, watched anxiously by girlfriend and former champion Maria Sharapova, raised his energy to reel off five games in a row to level the score.
The Indian challenge at the Wimbledon ended on Friday with veteran Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek losing their men’s doubles semi-final against Canadian Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock in straight sets. The unseeded US-Candian duo beat the fifth seeded pair 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes to set up title date against top seeds Mike and Bob Bryan of the US.