Father Time, Nadal Can't Beat Champion

Father Time, Nadal Can't Beat Champion

Roger Federer has edged out Rafael Nadal in an epic Wimbledon semi-final to set up a mouth-watering title showdown with defending champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

Nadal was denied the opportunity to win a third Wimbledon and 19th Grand Slam title, with Federer being handed the chance to win his 21st Major.

The effervescent Swiss turned the screw to break again early in the fourth and there was to be no way back for third seed Nadal as he lost a grand slam semi-final against Federer for the first time, having won the previous four.

Federer: "It's always very, very cool to play against Rafa here, especially (since we) haven't played in so long".

Federer earned himself an early break in the decider, and then had two match points on Nadal's serve, but both times Nadal pushed his boundaries and bludgeoned winners to force Federer to serve it out.

But the 31-year-old Bautista Agut held his nerve to eventually level the semi-final at 6-4 off a fortuitous net cord. This explains why Federer has reached Wimbledon finals on 12 occasions in his career.

But Federer won the set 6-4 to take the match.

Federer's third match point - as his wife, Mirka, peeked through fingers covering her face - was a 24-stroke masterpiece that Nadal took with an inside-out forehand victor.

With how dominant each man was on serve, it was a surprise that a pair of minibreaks were achieved by each player, but it was Nadal who would rue his failure to consolidate after twice gaining the initiative and the tiebreaker stood at 3-3. "Just have to accept that was not my day", he said.

"Novak played great against Bautista Agut, he was supreme, again", said Federer. Nadal won that one 9-7 in a fifth set that ended after 9 p.m., as any trace of daylight disappeared, in what some consider the greatest tennis match in the sport's lengthy annals.

Nadal said 37-year-old Federer's qualities remain undimmed and constant.

"When I was about 10, 12, she said if I want to do something in tennis, I have to play the final of Wimbledon".

Except for the slip-up in the second set, Federer played near flawless tennis to defeat his arch rival Nadal. It was semi-final and Bautista was playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. "It gave me more confidence and relief so I could swing more freely in the next games".

The Swiss star failed to capitalize on two match points in the penultimate game.

Federer saved that and then threw everything in his arsenal at Nadal on a third match point only for the indefatigable Spaniard to win a sensational baseline rally. The capacity crowd at Centre Court showered both Nadal and Federer with cheers and a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes.

One match point slipped away when Federer missed a forehand return. It is a shot that no one else in the world can hit, and even a war horse like Nadal is unable to track down. Federer firmly took charge, winning the last five points, capped off by a forehand victor to take a one-set lead. "He probably will, honestly, I reckon he will get the Grand Slam count, I reckon he will overpass Federer". At the time, Nadal let rip in the record series of turf victories to Federer's 65 games in a row. "I had another one [this year], and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here".

Federer is running out of time to add to his record-breaking eight Wimbledon titles but there is a firm belief among his fans that this could be his year.

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