Roger Federer has his sights set on making more history at Wimbledon and he could not be happier.
The 35-year-old is through to an 11th final – four more than any other man – after beating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/4) 6-4.
If he defeats Marin Cilic in the final, he will be the first man ever to win eight titles, while he would also be the oldest champion in the Open era.
Federer said: “It makes me really happy, making history here at Wimbledon. It’s a big deal. I love this tournament.
“All my dreams came true here as a player. To have another chance to go for number eight now, be so close at this stage, is a great feeling.
“I’m unbelievably excited. I hope I can play one more good match.
“Eleven finals here, all these records, it’s great, but it doesn’t give me the title quite yet.
“That’s why I came here this year. I’m so close now, so I’ve just got to stay focused.”
Federer won his seventh title back in 2012 but this is his third time in the final since then, with the Swiss losing to Novak Djokovic in both 2013 and 2014.
“I feel I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’ve played good matches here since my win here in 2012. I played great in 2014, 15. I’m happy I’m up to that level again.
“I don’t feel like it’s that long ago – 2003 (his first title) feels like ages ago, because of the ponytail, the beard, you name it.
“This one is different. I kind of looked the same back in 2012, or at least I hope so.”
Federer still has not dropped a set but was tested by Berdych and the match might have panned out very differently had just a few points gone the Czech’s way.
Berdych repeatedly targeted Federer’s forehand and had a decent amount of success, while he showed an unexpected deftness of touch at the net.
Eleven finals here, all these records, it’s great, but it doesn’t give me the title quite yet. That’s why I came here this year. I’m so close now, so I’ve just got to stay focused.
But too often he made bad errors at important moments while Federer slipped up only once when shutting the door in his opponent’s face.
That came at 4-3 in the first set, when Federer was already up a break, and a forehand dumped into the net from Berdych was all that separated them in the tie-break.
Berdych applied more pressure in the second set but could not break, and three clean winners on the forehand from Federer put him in control of the second tie-break.
By the third set, the writing was on the wall, and Federer clinched victory after two hours and 18 minutes.
If Cilic was watching, there were little glimmers of hope but this was an excellent performance from Federer and he will take some stopping.
“I thought it was close,” said Federer. “There were chances for the opponent. I was able to come up with the goods when it mattered.
“I never played with any sense of panic, which is so important when it gets to crunch time.
“It was a good match. He’s got power, and so has Marin. So I’m in for a tough one.”
For Berdych, this was another case of so near and yet so far at the big events.
Arguably no one has suffered more from the big four’s dominance than the Czech, who reached his only slam final here seven years ago, beating Federer and Djokovic before losing to Rafael Nadal.
Federer turns 36 next month and is the oldest Wimbledon finalist in the men’s singles since Ken Rosewall in 1974.
But, after winning his 18th slam title at the Australian Open in January, Berdych can see absolutely no sign of age catching up with Federer.
“I don’t see anything that would indicate really Roger is getting older or anything like that,” said Berdych. “I think he’s just proving his greatness in our sport.
“If you look at the other guys who are 35, 36, I think you can very clearly see that the age and the years on tour are affecting them. But not with him. You have to be a unique one for that.”
Before Federer takes centre stage once again, it is the turn of another veteran to make history on Centre Court when Venus Williams contests today’s women’s final against Garbine Muguruza.
At 37 years and 28 days, Williams is looking for her first grand slam title since Wimbledon nine years ago, when she claimed her fifth crown and seventh in total.
Williams made her Wimbledon debut 20 years ago and has only missed one tournament, in 2013 when she had a back injury.
“I think it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to play well and to be strong and have experience.,” said Williams yesterday.
“I think experience can either work against you or for you. I like to think it’s working for me.”
Final Previews: Page 2