MUMBAI: Eleven years since their epic 2008 final, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will once again to the hallowed Centre Court turf at SW19. Federer, one month shy of his 38th birthday, overcame a slow start to defeat Kei Nishikori in four sets in the quarterfinals on Wednesday to secure his 100th win at Wimbledon. Meanwhile, Nadal continued his march, unhindered since the tense second-round clash against Nick Krygios. The Spanish southpaw made short work of the 6’6” Sam Querrey.
This will be the 40th time that Federer and Nadal have crossed swords, but the first time at Wimbledon since three straight finals from 2006 to 2008. While Federer won the first two, Nadal upset Federer in that titanic 2008 final, beating the Swiss 9-7 in the deciding fifth set. “A lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end, by 2008.’ We’re still here,” said Federer, who has gone on to amass 20 Majors. “It’s nice to play each other again.”
While the pair has clashed 22 times since that 2008 Wimbledon final, injuries and fate have kept them away from facing each other at Wimbledon. Both of them had to claw back from injury troubles in 2016, but since the start of 2017, ‘Fedal’ has been going strong again. Federer reclaimed the Wimbledon title — which he had last won in 2012 — in 2017 to break away from Pete Sampras and William Renshaw and hold the maximum number of men’s titles in Wimbledon (8).
Nadal has had his struggles on the lawns of SW19; his last title here came in 2010. But the Spaniard is looking healthy and hungry again, having lost just one set, to Kyrgios, en route the last four. Federer and Nadal had clashed just last month, in the French Open semis. Roland Garros is Nadal’s domain and the 33-year-old Spaniard once again demolished his most famous rival on the slow, high bouncing Parisian clay.
Wimbledon has historically been Federer’s most successful Slam and the grass may still give Federer the edge. But Wimbledon’s grass is reportedly playing slow this year — as was evident In Nadal’s match against Querrey. This means Nadal has as good a chance as any to out-muscle Federer. “Rafa has improved so much over the years on this surface,” the Swiss said. “He’s playing also very different than he used to. (We) haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points.”
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Serena versus Halep in women’s final
Serena Williams will play in the Wimbledon final for the 11th time after she beat Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals. She will face Simona Halep, who became first the Romanian woman to reach the Wimbledon final after she beat Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3.