Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet at Wimbledon for the first time since the 2008 final after both advanced to the semi-finals. Federer beat Kei Nishikori 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 for his 100th match win at the All England Club, while Nadal beat Sam Querrey 7-5 6-2 6-2. In 2008, Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set against Federer in a rain-affected final that spanned nearly seven hours. Together, they have won 10 Wimbledon titles between them.
Four-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will face Roberto Bautisa Agut in Friday’s other semi-final. It is the first time for 12 years that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all made the last four.
- Djokovic to face Bautista Augut in semi-finals
- Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer’s 2008 final – what made it so special?
“We have a lot of information on Rafa, as does he on us,” said eight-time champion Federer, who in beating Japanese eighth seed Nishikori became the first player in history to win 100 men’s singles matches at a single Grand Slam event.
“So you can dive into the tactics like mad for two days, or you say ‘it’s grass court tennis so I’m going to come out and play my tennis’. “People always hype it up. It was a joy to play against Rafa on his court at the French Open and [I’m] very excited to play him here.” Spaniard Nadal said: “It’s great. It’s difficult to imagine again being in that situation. “I’m excited to play against Roger again here at Wimbledon.”
Normal service resumes for Federer after poor start
Nishikori defeated Swiss great Federer in straight sets in their most recent meeting at the ATP Finals in 2018 but had been beaten by the 20-time Grand Slam champion in seven of their 10 previous matches. Yet few in the Centre Court crowd knew how to react when Federer was broken in the very first game, before going 2-0 down as Nishikori held serve, and only just clinching the third game as Nishikori scuppered three break points.
In an error-strewn first set, in which Federer double-faulted on three occasions and hit 12 unforced errors, it was Nishikori who looked most at home despite his opponent’s previous success on the Wimbledon grass, almost breaking Federer again at 3-1 up before the remainder of the set went with serve. The second set, however, proved the polar opposite to the first, with Federer breaking Nishikori early to help him to a 3-0 lead. He went on to serve to love twice before breaking Nishikori once more and seeing out the set in just 23 minutes.
Federer missed break point in the opening game of a topsy-turvy third set but eventually took a game from Nishikori’s grasp to go 4-3 up, although he needed four break points to do so. After wrapping up the third set on his second set point, Federer had five opportunities to break Nishikori in the fourth but it was not until 4-4 that he was able to do so. And, in stylish fashion, he sealed the win to love with an ace – his 12th of the match – to book his spot in a 13th semi-final at Wimbledon.
Twenty-five days short of his 38th birthday, Federer becomes the oldest man to make a Grand Slam semi-final since Jimmy Connors in 1991 who, at 39 years and six days, reached the last four at the US Open. In total, Federer has reached 45 Grand Slam men’s singles semi-finals, nine ahead of Wimbledon defending champion Novak Djokovic, who also advanced to the last four on Wednesday.
Nadal keeps his side of the bargain
At the same time Federer was in action on Centre Court, Nadal was keeping his side of the bargain on Court One. The 18-time Grand Slam champion had gone an early break up against big-serving American Querrey but faltered to drop serve for 5-5 despite having four set points before that. But he re-established his advantage in the very next game and then fended off three break points to avoid a tie-break.
The cheers from Centre Court celebrating Federer’s victory could be heard on Court One and just a few seconds later there were matching celebrations when Nadal took the second set with a volley at the net. The Spaniard apologised to Querrey for that winning shot, having been standing very close to the American at the time, when either the racquet or the ball was in danger of crashing into him.
While Querrey continued to bombard Nadal with aces – notching a total of 22 – the Spaniard sped through the third set and a forehand winner wrapped up the victory that put him into his seventh Wimbledon semi-final. Nadal’s win means there are two Spaniards in the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals for the first time after compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut beat Argentina’s Guido Pella to set up a meeting with world number one Djokovic.