LONDON (Reuters) – Roger Federer’s relentless pursuit of a record eighth Wimbledon title continued as he beat stubborn Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4 to reach the final for the 11th time on Friday.
The 35-year-old Swiss was given his toughest test yet by the 11th seed, who beat him at the quarter-final stage in 2010, but he raised his game at the crucial moments to become the oldest men’s singles finalist here since Ken Rosewall in 1974.
Rosewall, the aged 39, went on to lose to Jimmy Connors but Federer will be a huge favorite to reclaim the title he last won in 2012 against big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic on Sunday.
Federer has now reached 29 grand slam finals and for the third time in his career has reach the Wimbledon final without dropping a set, having also achieved the feat in 2006 and 2008.
“I feel very privileged to be in another final,” Federer, who received a standing ovation at the end, said.
“I’ve got the pleasure to play on Centre Court another time. I can’t believe it’s almost true again. I’m happy to have a day off to reflect on what I’ve done at the tournament.”
Twelve months ago here Federer lost to Milos Raonic in the semi-finals – his legs looking heavy and the years finally appearing to catch up with him – but this year he has rolled back the clock in glorious fashion.
He now is one-match away from holding two of the game’s major four prizes for the first time since 2010 having begun the year by claiming the Australian Open title.
Berdych, who reached the semi-final after second seed Novak Djokovic retired hurt in the quarters, is not a man to be taken lightly and Federer was never able to truly relax.
Federer, contesting a record 12th Wimbledon semi-final, broke serve in the fifth game when he whipped away a forehand.
Out of nowhere Berdych broke back for 4-4 when Federer – to gasps from the crowd – double-faulted at break point down.
Berdych needed to get his nose in front by winning the first set tiebreak but a terrible forehand at 3-4 gave Federer control and it was the third seed who moved ahead.
Federer served consecutive aces to fend off two break points at 2-3 in a second set which drifted to another tiebreak.
Again Berdych’s spirit was crushed as he watched three consecutive forehand winners fly by as Federer again proved ruthless on the way to moving two sets clear.
The 31-year-old Berdych refused to throw in the towel, however, and had break points at 3-3 in the third set, only for Federer to smash down three aces and an unreturnable serve.
Right on cue Federer broke in the next game and the end came quickly as he held serve at 5-4 to seal his 90th win at the All England Club – and yet another notch in the history books.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond