Federer Escapes, Moves Into Wimbledon SF
Seven-time champion will face Raonic in SF
Third seed and seven-time former champion Roger Federer performed one of his greatest escape acts on Wednesday, saving three match points to come back from two-sets-to-love down and beat ninth seed Marin Cilic 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3.
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Federer moves into the Wimbledon semi-finals for the 11th time and will face Milos Raonic, who beat American Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. The Swiss star leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 9-2, including a 2014 Wimbledon win. But Raonic took their most recent match-up 6-4, 6-4 at the Brisbane International in January.
“Today was epic. Probably going to look back at this as being a great, great match that I played in my career, on Centre Court here at Wimbledon... This is huge for me, my season, my career. I'm very, very happy,” Federer said. “To win a match like this, to test the body, to be out there again, fighting, being in a physical battle and winning, it is an unbelievable feeling.”
The comeback win marks the 10th time Federer has overcome a 0-2 sets deficit in his career. His quarter-final contest looked severely in doubt.
Cilic was dictating nearly everything during the first two sets. The 6'6” right-hander was landing booming first serves and seizing play with powerful groundstrokes. Cilic won 87 per cent of his first-serve points and hit 12 aces. The 34-year-old Swiss largely had to play defensive tennis and struggled to get into the biggest points. Federer was 0-3 on break points during the first two sets.
“I remember just being in trouble the whole time,” Federer said.
But serving at 0/40, 3-all in the third, Federer somehow reeled off five straight points to hear the roar of the Centre Court crowd, which had been waiting for moments to scream. During the next game, Cilic double faulted on break point and Federer had his first break. A game later, he had clinched the third set.
“That switched the momentum,” Cilic said.
In the fourth set, Federer seemed to be moving better, serving and volleying and forcing the issue against Cilic. But the Croat regrouped and hung with the Swiss star. Cilic even earned three match points but failed to convert any of them. On two of the match points, he saw a Federer second serve but couldn't put either ball in play.
“If we would go back to play again, I would try to be more aggressive on the chances when I had them in the fourth. Maybe there was a slight hesitation [during] some of them,” Cilic said.
The two played an enthralling tie-break that saw Federer erase one of those match points and witnessed Cilic save four set points. But the seven-time champion evened the contest on his serve after 20 points.
In the fifth set, Federer broke Cilic at 4-3 and served out the set and the match, ending the memorable contest with two of his 27 aces.
At 34 years and 336 days, Federer becomes the oldest man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since Ken Rosewall (39 years, 246 days) finished as runner-up to Jimmy Connors.