Roger Federer will be in position to win an eighth Wimbledon title after scoring a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 semifinal win over 11th seed Tomas Berdych.
USA TODAY Sports
WIMBLEDON, England — If it was all routine for 35-year-old Roger Federer he probably wouldn’t be playing this well, or still playing at all.
But as Federer approaches Sunday’s Wimbledon final, there will be much at stake beyond trying to overcome seventh-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia for the title.
Most notably, the third-seeded Federer will be looking for another piece of tennis history. He’ll be looking to do what no other man has done at Wimbledon in claiming the trophy for an eighth time. That’s not just a record that would span modern time — it would date back to the first Wimbledon played in 1877.
At the moment, Federer is tied with the late William Renshaw, who won all of his Wimbledon titles in the 1880s, and Pete Sampras, in ownership of seven Wimbledon trophies.
Of course, while eight sounds mighty impressive, Rafael Nadal holds the men’s record for most titles won at the same Grand Slam, having won his 10th French Open last month.
So when Federer walks out onto Centre Court at precisely 2 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon to play an 11th career Wimbledon final, he might not show it, but he’s unlikely to be feeling cool, calm and collected.
“I do get nervous,” he said after posting a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 semifinal win over 11th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on Friday.
“I’m happy I do get nervous for the big occasions. Sometimes it slows down your legs, your pulse starts racing, your head starts — not spinning, in the sense that you have a million ideas, you have to take the right one. That can stress you out a tad.
“I always say I’m happy I feel that way because it means I care,” he added, smiling. “It’s not like going through the motions, like careless. That would be a horrible feeling to be honest.”
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Fans have watched the cool exterior of Federer for many years now. After all, he’s been playing Grand Slam tournaments since 1999, winning a record collection of 18 to date.
His latest major success came as a surprise at the Australian Open in January. He’d been off the court nursing a knee injury since he fell in the Wimbledon semifinals in July 2016. No one, not even Federer, thought he’d come back that strong, that fast. But he did, taking out Nadal in a five-set thriller of a final in Melbourne.
If Federer can grab a 19th Grand Slam title here he would be at 35 years, 342 days, the oldest man in the Open Era to win the Wimbledon trophy.
“It makes me really happy, making history here at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “It’s a big deal. I love this tournament. All my dreams came true here as a player. To have another chance to go for number eight now … is a great feeling.”
This Wimbledon has been marked by success for the senior set. On Saturday, the 37-year-old Venus Williams played in the women’s final against Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Although many among the press corps have finally determined it’s pointless to inquire when these older players might contemplate retirement, every so often there’s someone who hasn’t received the memo that it’s no longer a cool question to ask.
On Friday, Federer again tackled the question with great thought and a somewhat familiar response.
“Health has a role to play in my decision-making, no doubt about it,” he said. “As I move forward, I’ll be very cautious of how much I will play, how much I think is healthy.
“Then, of course, it’s just discussions I always have, continuous discussion, with my wife about the family, about my kids (There’s two sets of twins — the girls will be 8 later this month, the boys are 3). Is everybody happy on tour? Are we happy to pack up and go on tour for five, six, seven weeks? Are we willing to do that?”
For now the answer seems to be yes. So the Federer clan is likely to keep the around-the-world family caravan going to enable dad to keep winning more titles.
This year started monumentally for Federer, who reinforced his Australian Open victory with back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami, and then won the grass-court tuneup title at Halle, Germany.
Federer has shown no signs of relenting at Wimbledon, where he reached the final without dropping a set during the fortnight. His career record at Wimbledon stands at 90-11.
Now that the Berdych task is handled, it’s on to Cilic. While Federer knows he’s had the better of the Croatian to the tune of a 6-1 career advantage, he hasn’t forgotten their last two meetings in particular.
First, there was the one loss, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 pummeling in the 2014 U.S. Open semifinals that led to Cilic picking up his lone Grand Slam title. Then there was last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinal, a thriller that Federer just edged out 6-3 in the fifth set.
This eighth outing between the two is likely to provide heightened nerves for Federer. After all, an eighth Wimbledon title is on the line.