Impeccable Federer serves up master class to reach 10th final

Swiss master crushes Murray to set up repeat of 2014 final against Djokovic

Andy Murray came into his seventh Wimbledon semi-final looking like he was in the form of his life. Roger Federer arrived in the form of another life, those five or six golden years between 2003-2009, when few in the world could touch him.

There was a pre-match opinion that Murray could monster Federer with his bigger game and his return of serve, but he faced a player that Centre Court barely recognised, a 33-year-old imperiously rolling back the years in a fabulous quest for 18 Grand Slam titles.

At times breathtaking, Federer reduced the world number three to a schooled pupil, who despite playing some of his best tennis was reduced to punching his chair in frustration at the changeover.

Chasing 4-5 in the third set and serving to stay in the semi- final, a despairing Murray groaned to himself and his box “What else can I do?” as he was slipping to a 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 defeat.



Not only was Federer’s service game functioning at almost impossible efficiency levels but every game in each of the three sets his play was embroidered with invention and guile. His swats, flicks, draughtsmanship and construction of points, his speed and his finesses swarmed around Murray, fast, aggressive and stinging. The Scot could do nothing.

Centre Court maybe didn't get the final they were hoping for against reigning champion, Novak Djokovic, who beat Richard Gasquet in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. But in a repeat of last year, the rest of the world probably did.

“I actually didn’t play a bad match. I played pretty well,” said Murray.”That’s definitely the best he has served against me. He clearly deserved to win. I couldn’t get a racquet on a lot of the returns . . . it was frustrating. I served probably the best I’ve served in the tournament.”

Incredibly, Federer hit in 76 per cent of his first serves. That precision gave him an 84 per cent winning return. But he also chose his games to threaten Murray’s serve, picking him off with a backhand to his toes to break for 7-5 in the first set.

The second set rolled forward with serve and with Murray 4-5 down, Federer struck again, Jonas Bjorkman and Amelie Mauresmo forlorn figures in the Murray box. Federer squeezed Murray and forced three set points. They were saved. It went to a fourth, fifth set point before Murray aced a winner for 5-5.

But in a blink Federer was on Murray in his next service game, finishing on a put-away volley and 7-5 to go two sets up. Centre Court fell silent, half-bewitched by Federer’s gilded play, but at two sets down most of the divided crowd readying itself to mourn Murray’s defeat.

At 5-4 up Federer earned his only break point in the third set, a match point. This time the agony for the fans was brief, a Murray forehand going long to close the match in a little over two hours.

Tenth final

It is Federer’s 10th Wimbledon final, his last Centre Court win coming against Murray in the 2012 final.

“Today clearly I was able to play very well from the start,” said Federer. “I faced a break point in the first set. But definitely one of the best matches I have played in my career. It was one of the best serving days of my career for sure.

“In a match like this I can have a great performance and It is a great feeling,” he added. “There was applause right back to the locker room. But I need it for one more match to make it a perfect couple of weeks.”

Gasquet, who had won just one of his 12 previous meetings with Djokovic, in 2007, lost a must-win tiebreak in the first set. Common consent was going down a set to the man with no weakness was a recipe for glorious struggle. And so it was.

A string of unforced errors and hints of his traditional capacity to choke under pressure, handed a first set tiebreak it to Djokovic 7-6 (2). From there it was a chasing game.

“Sometimes I did mistakes in the tiebreak, of course,” said Gasquet. “. . . It wasn’t good. He never misses on some returns.”

Djokovic did show a potential weakness. On a set and service break up he asked for treatment to an injured left shoulder. The 28- year-old required treatment but came through in two hours and 22 minutes.

“Woke up with a stiff left shoulder,” said Djokovic dismissively. “ Nothing major that concerns me for the next match.”

The rest of the match was vintage, if not imperious Djokovic. He constantly attacked the Gasquet serve and in two hours 21 minutes earned the right to defend his title against Federer.


“It was a very important match for me to win last year in Wimbledon final because I’ve lost quite a few Grand Slam finals,” said Djokovic. “To win that match in five sets against Roger on grass was definitely something that gave me a lot of confidence. A few days after that, I got married. That was more than a few things that happened in a positive way in my life.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times