Federer, Murray victories set up Wimbledon drama

Roger Federer seeks a Grand Slam record.
Roger Federer seeks a Grand Slam record. (ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS / Associated Press)
Posted: July 07, 2012

WIMBLEDON, England - For Roger Federer, it's Wimbledon final No. 8.

For Andy Murray, it's No. 1 - and the first for a British man since 1938.

Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion who is 6-1 in Wimbledon finals, beat defending champion Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, Friday under the closed roof at Centre Court to reach a modern-era record eighth final at the All England Club. He is now one win from equaling Pete Sampras' record of seven titles.

The next challenge for the 30-year-old Federer will come Sunday against Murray, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, in the second semifinal to become the first British man to even reach the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin 74 years ago. The 25-year-old Scot will now try to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936.

If Federer does win Sunday in his 24th Grand Slam final, he would also take the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic and equal Sampras' record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.

"There's obviously a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here - the all-time Grand Slam record, world No. 1," Federer said. "I'm also going into that match with some pressure, but I'm excited about it."

Federer and Djokovic went for winners on almost every point. But it was Federer who got the key points when they mattered in the third set.

"It's hard to fire bullets the whole time, so you try to also find some range. If he tees off first, it's hard to defend obviously," said Federer, now 1-0 against Djokovic on grass. "It's just not as easy to take that many balls out and come up with amazing shots time and time again. That's why I kept on attacking."

At 4-4, Djokovic had his chance with only his third break point of the match. Federer held with three service winners.

Moments later, while serving to stay in the set - and, essentially, the match - Djokovic gifted Federer a pair of break points by blasting an overhead long with much of the court open. He saved one, but Federer's overhead smash on the second gave the Swiss star the third set, and put him on the way to the final.

The win improved Federer's semifinal record at the All England Club to 8-0. His only loss in the final came in 2008, when Rafael Nadal beat him, 9-7, in the fifth set.

William Renshaw and Arthur Gore also played in eight Wimbledon finals, but that was when the defending champion received a bye into the following year's title match. That rule was changed in 1922. Renshaw won seven titles and Gore three.

After Federer's win, Murray played Tsonga under an open roof on Centre Court, and under intense pressure to succeed in front of the British public.

Murray got off to a fast start, serving well and winning the first two sets easily. And after losing the third, he hung on in the fourth, breaking in the final game with a forehand return winner.

"At the beginning was tough because he played well," Tsonga said. "I mean, he didn't give me one chance, one chance to go to the net. He didn't miss one serve. He was really, really good."

Murray was playing in the Wimbledon semifinals for the fourth straight year. Now he has made it to that elusive final, and on Sunday he'll be facing an opponent who beat him in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open final and the 2010 Australian Open final.

"I've had experience playing Roger in the finals of slams before," Murray said. "I'm going to use that to my advantage and learn from my mistakes and also the things he did well."

In Murray's only other major final, the 2011 Australian Open, he lost to Djokovic - again in straight sets.

"Hopefully," Murray said, "I can go one better on Sunday."

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