Roger Federer finally blotted his copybook on Wednesday, dropping a set for the first time at this year’s Wimbledon before reaching the semi-finals with a 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4 win over fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.
It is the ninth Wimbledon semi-final for the 32-year-old seven-times champion, who has been in imperious form on the grass this year, winning at Halle before steaming through five rounds at the All England Club.
Federer, playing his 16th tour match against his Davis Cup team mate Wawrinka, looked listless during the first set before getting into his stride to notch his 14th win over the Australian Open champion.
“It’s tough (playing against a friend), Stan played great especially in the first two sets, until he started to really struggle with his fitness,” Federer said.
Wawrinka had to play three days in a row after weekend rain caused scheduling problems at the championships. He had also spent and hour and 40 minutes longer on court than Federer.
“He was hitting it so well so I had to wait for my chance,” Federer said. “It’s hard against a friend because we know each other’s game so well and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season, because he has been great so far this year.”
Another slight chink in Federer’s formidable armour showed itself as he served a nervy game to complete the victory. It took five match points for the 17-times grand slam champion to wrap up the contest, finishing with a big serve and a smash.
He will meet either Canadian Milos Raonic or 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, who beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, in Friday’s semi-final.
Djokovic stumbles on his way to semis
Top seed Novak Djokovic suffered some jittery moments under the big-serving onslaught of Marin Cilic on Wednesday before changing his shoes and pulling his game together to win 6-1 3-6 6-7(4) 6-2 6-2 for a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
The Serbian former champion began efficiently, rattling through the first set in 27 minutes on a sunny but subdued Court One.
The crowd had half an ear on Henman Hill, where big-screen spectators whooped and groaned through champion Andy Murray’s defeat by 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Djokovic’s intensity dropped in the second set. The world No.2 slipped and slid in the baseline dust and his towering Croatian opponent grabbed a break of serve using his big forehand to pummel the six-times grand slam champion.
“We could hear the crowd during the match and it was a bit distracting; but no excuses, we had to concentrate,” Djokovic said.
“It was a tough five-setter. Coming in I knew Marin would play aggressively.
“He raised his game but I allowed him to come back into it. I was too passive on my strokes and he used his opportunities, but I managed to find the right pace when I needed it.”
The pair fought a tight third set, watched by their celebrity coaches Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic, before normal service was resumed.
Djokovic donned a new pair of shoes, upped the pace and raced into his 23rd semi-final, where he will meet 23-year-old Bulgarian Dimitrov.
“After I changed my shoes in the fourth set I played well – I will keep them to play Grigor Dimitrov,” a smiling Djokovic said.
“It was a big win for Grigor. He’s on fire this last six months … he’s not lost a match on grass this year. He’s the man to beat.”
Raonic makes last four
Milos Raonic defeated wild-card entry Nick Kyrgios of Australia 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Wednesday to become the first Canadian man in more than 100 years to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.
Raonic finished the contest with his 39th ace on his fourth match point, earning a semifinal matchup against seven-time champion Roger Federer.
The 144th-ranked Kyrgios, who upset Rafael Nadal in the fourth round on Tuesday, was attempting to become the first wild card to make the semifinals at a Grand Slam since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.
The last Canadian man to reach the Wimbledon semis was Robert Powell in 1908.