Roger Federer tops Rafael Nadal to make Wimbledon final

LONDON ENGLAND- JULY 10 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain celebrates victory in his Men's Quarter Final match against Guido Pella of Argentina during Day Nine of The Championships- Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1

LONDON ENGLAND- JULY 10 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain celebrates victory in his Men's Quarter Final match against Guido Pella of Argentina during Day Nine of The Championships- Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1

He serves and is now a point ahead.

"I had spells where I was serving really well", he admitted.

Down 3-1, Federer all but surrendered the set with half-hearted returns as Nadal levelled the semi up.

Federer has held on to his serve and with it he makes life hard for Nadal.

Federer ruefully blundered a chance to gain a match point on Nadal's serve at 3-5 when he unsuccessfully challenged a line call having hit a clean victor. But it is his command on the rallies that is doing the job for him.

Djokovic took a 3-0 lead after breaking the Spaniard in his first service game, and the top-ranked Serb broke again in the final game when Bautista Agut sent a forehand long.

Federer wants this to end in four sets here. He got wound up by the crowd, he slid around on the baseline as if he were on clay, he dispatched those lovely sweeping forehands, he fell in dramatic style, nudged those deft drop shots so they kissed the top of the net and clocked up the sets. And, perhaps shockingly, this is the narrowest the gap has been between the two since July of 2004, when Federer had two and Nadal had none. This time it was all about Federer who threw everything he had on the rival to keep the points on his racquet and unfold the rallies in the way he wanted. Nadal is fighting tooth and nail was ever.

Then, at the climax to the match, Nadal, fighting as only he knows how, threatened to ambush Federer's quest for a record-equalling ninth Wimbledon singles title by saving four match points before Federer took his place in Sunday's showpiece.

Not only was this the 40th installment of Federer vs. Nadal, but it also was their first meeting at Wimbledon since the 2008 final.

"Well, [it's] been a tough one", he said, clearly disappointed, after the match. "We finally have a match now", was the verdict of one Wimbledon veteran behind the press box when Bautista Agut broke Djokovic for the first, and only, time. Djokovic, the top-ranked tennis player in the world, has won 25 of those times. Nadal won that one 9-7 in a fifth set that ended after 9 p.m., as any trace of daylight disappeared, in what some consider the greatest tennis match in the sport's lengthy annals.

Federer leads Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3 in the semifinals on Centre Court.

This was Bautista Agut's first Grand Slam semifinal, and his pre-Wimbledon expectations were so low he had booked his stag-do for this week in Ibiza.

After being greeted to Centre Court by a standing ovation, both Federer and Nadal seemed to have an "anything you can do, I can do, too" vibe. He was welcoming the challenge while still recognising that this is his court, one that he marks winning the tournament on by eating the grass.

This is the second straight meeting of the 20 Grand Slams holder and 18 majors victor in Grand Slam.

This was the second major in a row where they've faced off: Nadal won their French Open semifinal last month en route to his 12th championship on the red clay there.