Wimbledon semifinal, as it happened: Federer beats Nadal in four sets to set up Djokovic final

Roger Federer progressed to his 12th Wimbledon final with a four-set win over Novak Djokovic.

Federer vs Nadal

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal face off in the semifinal of Wimbledon 2019, their first clash at the venue since the final in 2008.   -  Getty Images

Roger Federer beat adversary Rafael Nadal in a thrilling four-setter to secure his place in Sunday's final against Novak Djokovic.

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12:13am: Roger Federer holds his serve, denying Rafael Nadal the three break-point opportunities he had, and that's the match! He wins 7-6 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Swiss will face Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.

12:02am: Rafael Nadal battles back from two break points and holds his serve. Roger Federer serving for the match at 5-4 up.

11:52pm: Roger Federer holds his serve again, leads the fourth set 5-3. Rafael Nadal serving to stay in the match.

11:48pm: Rafael Nadal holds his serve. Level at 30-30, a couple of backhand errors from Roger Federer hands the Spaniard the game, but the Swiss leads the fourth set 4-3.

11:45pm: Down 15-30, Roger Federer produces a couple of good first serves and benefits from an unforced error from Rafael Nadal to hold his service game and go 4-2 up in the fourth set.

11:40pm: A comprehensive service hold from Rafael Nadal. A forehand winner at 40-15 secures the game with the Swiss still 3-2 up in the fourth set.

11:37pm: Roger Federer holds to love and consolidates the service breaks to go 3-1 up.

11:33pm: Down 15-40, Rafael Nadal saves one break point but another unforced error at 30-40 down hands Roger Federer a break. The Swiss moves up 2-1 in the fourth set.

11:28pm: Roger Federer holds his first service game of the fourth set. It's 1-1.

11:25pm: Nadal holds serve in the first game despite some poor serving. 1-0 to Nadal in the fourth set but the early signs are not encouraging.

11:15pm: He holds to love. Federer wins the third set 6-3.  One set away from a 12th Wimbledon final and a 31st Grand Slam final. 

It's 40-0 as Federer sees Nadal run up to the net and picks him off with a beautiful pass. Federer serves it out.

Mirka Federer is up on her feet and pumped!

11:08pm: Federer holds and he's 5-2 up. One more hold and the third set is his. Now Nadal serves to stay in it.

11:04pm: Nadal holds after saving two break points. Federer leads 4-2 in the third set.

For a minute, Federer got to two break points, it looked like this set would follow the script of the second, with the roles reversed. But Nadal fights back brilliantly to pull it back. Holds and stays in it. It's not over.

11:00pm: Federer withstands a fight from Nadal to hold and is 4-1 up. *Not so silent fist pump to Mirka*

Double fault to concede break point but he saves one. He serves it on Nadal's backhand and he doesn't quite get a clean touch on it. Federer, looking into the sunlight, smashes that volley. He saves the second one after a long and superb rally; Nadal sends a forehand long and it's deuce. Nadal gets on break point again but that's saved too.

Another long (really long and lots of grunting) rally of 25 shots and it's advantage Federer as Nadal plays a forehand wide. Nadal hits the net and game to Federer.

10:52pm: Now Federer breaks! Nadal comes to the net first and despite all that athleticism, it's a poor volley and Federer buries it to take a 3-1 led in the third set. But don't get comfortable Federer fans. Something's coming.

10:47pm: 2-1 to Federer in the third set. Is the match going back to the first set? Looks like it. Another game is closed out soon as Federer holds to love again. Precise serving.

10:46pm: Nadal also holds despite a double fault to start. It's 1-1 in the third set.

10:42pm: Federer wins the first game in the third set. He looks to have reset his systems. It's great serving to take the game to love.

Someone's pissed.

10:39pm: It's all level. Rafael Nadal dominates the second set 6-1. Yeah, it didn't look like Federer was going to make a comeback from 5-1 down in the set, not against Nadal.  We're back to where we started - all even.

10:36pm: Nadal breaks again and is serving for the set at 5-1. It's all slipping away from Federer's hands. Even his shots. They're hitting the net or out of control, unable to deal with all that topspin. It looks like Federer is conserving energy.  Maybe, take a break after the set, reset and then come back on level terms.

10:31pm: Nadal has problem holding. He leads 4-1. It was going to be about who can go longer and deeper and now it looks like it's going to be Nadal. From a first set like that, it's becoming one sided.

10:27pm: Nadal breaks to go 3-1 up in the second set. Three break points for Nadal. It took some time for Federer to geet his serve in on the next point. A let, a fault and then a let before getting in a second serve. He nets a backhand and now he has to chase Nadal. That's the first time anyone's serves has been broken today. Federer looks the more tired of the two.

10:23pm: Nadal holds. Federer has two break points at 40-15 but they're saves. Federe nets a return on the second one. Nadal doesn't have too much trouble wrapping it up from there. 2-1 in the second set.

10:14pm: Federer levels the second 1-1 after a long game. The games are getting longer and the match looks to be in full flow now.

At deuce, Nadal gets to break point in incredible fashion. It's saved but Federer's having to do some grunting himself. Nadal gets a second break point. That's saved too, with a sublime backhand slice volley at the net. Advantage Federer but loses it as nets a backhand. Nadal's backhand goes long and advantage back with Federer. Closes it with a great serve on Nadal's forehand. That's not coming back.

10:08pm: Nadal holds serve in the first game of the second set. It's one of the longer games, yet not that long.

10:01pm: Roger Federer wins the first set 7-6 (3).

From 3-3, Federer just slipped away. First a forehand winner, then an overhead volley at the net (some brilliant attacking there after Nadal faltered on the return) and then a poor return from Nadal. He wins the first set and gets ahead in this staring contest with a well set-up forehand down the line. 51 minutes that set lasted. Brilliant!  Does this have to end?

 

9:58pm: Federer pulls it back in the tiebreak. He comes to the net after a great return and plays a drops a volley in front of the net. Nadal chases to get there and repeat what he did earlier, but this time it goes out. 3-3.

FACT: Nadal is 11-10 against Federer in tie-breaks.

9:56pm: What a winner! The first point of the tiebreak goes to Nadal as he chases down a Federer drop shot and plays and lobs past Federer. IT JUST STAYS IN. How? 1-0 to Nadal.

9:53pm: This is out of nowhere. Federer comes from 0-40 down to deuce. But Nadal goes on to win it. No time to explain how it went, because TIE-BREAK!

9:48pm: Nope. If you checked to see if anyone has been broken, nope. There is some exciting play, one goes to the net, which Federer wins. Federer holds and it's 6-5 in the first. Nadal serves to stay in this.

Another record for Federer- Most aces at Wimbledon

9:44pm: Nadal holds and we're 5-5 in the first set. A double fault from Nadal sent false alarms of serves finally giving way. He challenges the call. It's futile and he knows it; he was buying some time to reset. Federer's returns are poor on the rest of the serves and game Nadal.

9:41pm: It's slowly getting closer. I can feel it, the crowd can. Federer pulls a forehand long and the score is 30-30 but with two fiery aces, he wins the game and leads 5-4 in the first set. Now Nadal serves to stay in the set and keep this staring contest going. Good luck breaking.

9:36pm: Nadal holds to level the set 4-4. Federer brings up the first break point of the match as Nadal pulls a forehand long. A gladiatorial rally follows - oscillating between Nadal's forehand and Federer's beautiful backhand slices. Nadal wins that and saves break point as a Federer backhand hits the net. Nadal takes the game with a forehand sending Federer the wrong way.

9:31pm: Still nothing to separate the two. King of Wimbledon and King of Clay, but serves reign here so far. Federer leads 4-3 in the first set.

9:29pm: Must tell my colleagues there were won't be much respite to this 'you one, me one' punching game for a while. Nadal also holds to love (those serves again) and levels the first set 1-1.

It's like Toy Story. That 'best trilogy of all time' got a fourth part that made it even better. Can this?

 

9:27pm: Federer cruises through this one as well. He leads 3-2 on serve in the first set.

"What is this? They're holding serves so easy. They've not even gone to deuce," rings out in the office.

9:23pm: Game Nadal. It's not held to love this time, though. Federer wins his first point off Nadal's serve. Nadal goes up 40-15 as he finishes off a classic one-two punch with a brilliant forehand.

The game's proceeding at a good pace, despite the annoyingly long time Nadal takes to serve. With a brilliant forehand he goes

9:17pm: Federer also holds to love. Exchanging punches. Federer leads 2-1 on serve.

9:15pm: Nadal holds to love and 1-1 in the first set. The Spaniard's serving has gotten much better and there was acknowledgement of the fact from Roger.

“He has improved so much. He's playing also very different than he used to. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving and how much faster he finishes points. He can really hurt anybody on any surface."

Nadal, however: “I don't think we improved much. I think we managed to add things because we lost other things... because of age. I am running less so I need to serve better."

9:12pm: A clinical service hold from Roger Federer first up. A couple of aces and a couple of unforced errors from Rafael Nadal clinches the first game for the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

9:02pm: Roger Federer wins the toss and will serve first against Rafael Nadal.

8:47pm: While we wait, here's a wonderful thread I found on Twitter. Keeps you glued.

 

8:45pm: I can't stress how much we need to relish these moments. So late in their careers, each time they meet on court is like a rare comet sighting. It's time for the 40th time and only the fourth time on grass - the first outside the Wimbledon final. And I'm pumped.

Scroll down for everything you need to know about this clash, with the fabled Wimbledon 2008 final -the last time they met - setting the context.

Preview

It has been 11 years since that Wimbledon final in 2008 - what's widely regarded as the greatest tennis match ever. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were meeting for the third time at Wimbledon - all in the final - and what followed was 4 hours and 48 minutes of the quality tennis ending in semi-darkness as Nadal beat Federer, who was on top of the rankings for 231 consecutive weeks, to claim his first title at Wimbledon. Nadal, who was building quite a reputation on clay, also broke Federer's streak of 65 matches unbeaten on grass, just a month after he beat Federer in the French Open final.

Much has changed since, or has it? Federer, with 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, is 37 now and Nadal, 33, has won 18 Grand Slams. They have won 21 Grand Slams between them since that final in 2008. Federer and Nadal, alongside Novak Djokovic, have dominated men's tennis in the 21st century.

Today, they meet for only the fourth time on grass and for the first time outside a Wimbledon final.

What they said

Roger Federer: "Well, we have a lot of information on Rafa and so do they about us. We can all talk tactics for the next two days or just say it’s grass court tennis and I am going to attack. If he can defend, it’s good for him or it’s good for me. I mean, people hype it up, just like in the French Open. It was a joy to play on his court. Now, I’d love to play on grass. Let’s see what happens.”

“He has improved so much. He's playing also very different than he used to. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving and how much faster he finishes points. He can really hurt anybody on any surface. He's that good. He's not just a clay-court specialist.

Rafael Nadal: "To play against Roger always is a unique situation. I'm excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years. It means a lot for me and probably for him, too.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to again play in that round against him. I always say the same, the opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here.

“I don't think we improved much. I think we managed to add things because we lost other things... because of age. I am running less so I need to serve better. Of course, I am hitting the backhand better. Maybe volleying and slicing better. But I don't know if my level today will beat my level of years ago. So, in terms of improvement, I don't know. In terms of re-adapting our games, for sure. That is what makes us keep playing with this intensity."

Head to head

Today, they meet for the 40th time. Nadal has the better record overall  - 24-15 (He even had a better record when they met in 2008. But Federer has the better record on grass. They've met only three times on grass - all in Wimbledon finals - and Federer leads 2-1.

Key Stats (from ATPtour.com)

Nadal and Federer’s 39 prior meetings are the third-most in the Open Era (Nadal/Djokovic 54, Federer/Djokovic 47).

Nadal has won more Grand Slam matches (10) against Federer than any other player.

Federer and Nadal have both won four Grand Slam titles since turning 30.

At 37 years and 340 days, Federer will become the third-oldest man to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open Era if he wins on Friday.

Federer has nearly double the number of wins that Nadal does at The All England Club (100 to 53).

At 14 matches, Federer and Nadal have the third-most prolific Grand Slam rivalry of the Open Era, trailing only Djokovic-Federer and Djokovic-Nadal (both 15).

Nadal has won 20 more sets than Federer in their rivalry (Nadal leads 70-50).

Federer is 15-24 against Nadal and 112-13 against all other left-handed players.

Nadal has won 10 of his 13 Grand Slam matches against Federer.

Nadal is 11-10 against Federer in tie-breaks.

Nadal and Federer have met in 10 tour-level semi-finals (Nadal leads 7-3).

Federer scored the first 6-0 set of their rivalry in the 2006 Wimbledon final. Federer has three 6-0 sets in his career against the Spaniard.

Nadal is bidding to reach his 27th Grand Slam semi-final, Federer his 31st.