Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are braced for Wimbledon rematch after 11-year wait
Roger Federer brought up a century of wins at Wimbledon to set up a mouth-watering semi-final with Rafael Nadal.
The eight-time champion, who won his first game at SW19 as a 19-year-old in 2001, beat Kei Nishikori 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 in the quarter-final on Centre Court.
He set up the 40th instalment of one of tennis’s great rivalries and their first here since the epic 2008 final.
And Federer is looking forward to ending the wait for a rematch.
“He has improved so much over the years on this surface,” Federer said. “He’s playing also very different than he used to.
“We haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different.
“I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points.
“It’s impressive to see how sort of healthy he’s stayed. A lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end’, by 2008. Similar to me in 2009. We’re still here. So it’s nice to play each other again.”
It is the semi-final that everyone wanted and Nadal did his bit by beating Sam Querrey.
The third seed’s 7-5 6-2 6-2 win was not entirely straightforward but Nadal was more than good enough to continue the big three’s domination by following Federer and Novak Djokovic into the last four.
This is the first time since 2007 that the trio have all made the semi-finals here together, while before last month’s French Open it had not happened at any grand slam for seven years.
Nadal said: “First of all, it is a great feeling to be back in the semi-finals, to be able to be playing at this level of tennis is great news. Very happy the way that we managed to be in that round.
“Playing against Roger always is a unique situation. I am excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years.”
Djokovic ‘dismantled’ David Goffin’s game to cruise into a ninth semi-final.
The defending champion was an early break down but from there was utterly ruthless, winning 10 games in a row across the three sets in a 6-4 6-0 6-2 victory.
Djokovic will be a heavy favourite to make a sixth final when he takes on Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday.
Djokovic could not have been happier with his performance, saying: “I’ve been playing my best tennis in this tournament in the last two rounds. Especially today, second set and third set against Goffin, who was in form, I felt like I managed to dismantle his game and find always the right shots.”
Bautista Agut is happy to put his stag party on hold after reaching his first grand slam semi-final by beating Guido Pella 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3.
Grass is not Bautista Agut’s strongest surface, so much to the point that he arranged his stag do to be held in the second week of the tournament.
The 31-year-old should be in Ibiza with his friends as he prepares for his November wedding, but is preferring life in London at the minute, ahead of his meeting with Djokovic.
He said: “I had planned to be in Ibiza right now. We had everything organised already. My friends, six of them, are all there. Well, it feels better to be here in London. I think they will fly on Friday.”
Johanna Konta may have been knocked out but there is still British interest in the women’s singles through coach Andy Bettles.
Konta missed out on reaching the last four for the second time in three years after falling to a 7-6 (5) 6-1 defeat to Barbora Strycova on Tuesday.
But while Strycova takes on title favourite Serena Williams, the second semi-final sees Simona Halep face eighth seed Elina Svitolina, who is coached by Somerset’s Bettles.
The 26-year-old began working with Svitolina in 2017, helping the Ukrainian maintain her place in the top 10 and rise as high as number three in the world.
Bettles will certainly have better memories of Wimbledon from coaching than as a player, having lost in the first round of the boys’ singles to Roberto Carballes Baena in 2011.
“I remember it was a hot day,” he said. “I was so nervous I could barely hold the grip and I think I hit three double faults in the first game.”