Novak, Federer set for showdown

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Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will clash in a titanic showdown for the Wimbledon title after crushing an uprising from the next generation in the semi-finals. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will clash in a titanic showdown for the Wimbledon title after crushing an uprising from the next generation in the semi-finals on Friday.

Seven-time champion Federer demolished Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his ninth Wimbledon final, while top seed Djokovic defeated Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (9/7) as the threatened overthrow of the established order fell flat.

Federer, 32, who becomes the oldest man to make a Grand Slam final since Andre Agassi reached the 2005 Australian Open final at the age of 33, holds an 18-16 career lead over Djokovic, including a victory in their only previous major final meeting at the 2007 US Open.

Federer has beaten 2011 Wimbledon champion Djokovic in two out of three meetings in 2014 and is looking forward to renewing their rivalry which stretches back to 2006.

“Novak and myself always play good matches,” he said.

“He is a great champion and is used to these occasions. He's got the trophy here in the past and knows how it's done.

“I know I don't have 10 years left, so I'm going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. That I get another chance to go through these kinds of emotions is great.”

Remarkably, Sunday's clash will be the first final in 19 Grand Slams that won't feature either Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray.

Canadian eighth seed Raonic, touted as a candidate to shatter the big four's stranglehold on the sport's major trophies, never looked capable of troubling Federer in a Centre Court mismatch.

Raonic had fired a tournament-leading 148 aces en route to his first Grand Slam semi-final, yet Federer picked him off with ease to extend his career record to 5-0 against the 23-year-old.

“It was down to big concentration really,” said Federer, who will be playing in his first Grand Slam final since Wimbledon in 2012 when he went level with Pete Sampras as a seven-time winner.

“I had to focus on every point. You always say that but today especially I had to be careful on my serve and there were only a few chances when he served.

“I've played some great tennis this week, under pressure at times as well.”

The lack of drama in Federer's victory was an anti-climax after a celebrity-packed Royal Box, including actor Jude Law and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, had been entertained by Djokovic's gritty win over 11th seed Dimitrov.

Djokovic, a six-time Grand Slam winner, rarely hit peak form, but showed all his battling qualities to overcome Dimitrov in a three hour and two minute war of attrition.

The 27-year-old will look to avenge last year's Wimbledon final defeat against Murray when he makes his 14th Grand Slam final appearance.

World number two Djokovic, who lost to Federer in the semi-finals in 2012, can also reclaim top spot in the rankings from Nadal for the first time since September 2013 if he lifts the trophy in his third Wimbledon final in four years.

“It was the semi-finals of Wimbledon playing against the future star. He was fighting and playing some great shots, so it was a tough match and it's a good win for me definitely,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic has been beaten in five of his last six Grand Slam finals, with his last major triumph coming at the 2013 Australian Open, and he admitted he is desperate to end that frustrating run this weekend.

“I'm looking forward to another championship match, especially considering I have lost the last couple of finals. It's a big challenge.” he said.

After his sensational quarter-final victory over defending champion Murray, Dimitrov fell short in his first Grand Slam semi-final appearance, with Djokovic's extra experience proving crucial at the key moments.

“Of course I'm frustrated,” Dimitrov said. “I had a pretty slow start, but I got my act together and I was really playing a good tennis.

“You never know what would have happened if I had taken that fourth set.”– AFP


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