Federer feels ‘strange’ being in Wimbledon final, 16 years after first

Wimbledon 2019 Semi Final Live Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal In their 40th meeting the second and third seeds will be playing for the final spot

Never is, really, no matter where they play.

But unlike Nadal's five-set victory in that epic encounter more than a decade ago, a match dubbed the greatest of all time, Federer reigned 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 in another classic on Friday to set up a blockbuster final with world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

The players then smashed out their 45-shot rally, much of it a mesmerizing exchange of identical crosscourt backhands that had the crowd gasping before Djokovic blinked first to switch the angle of attack and take the point with a devastating victor. Just one of those initial 14 points came via his own victor; 10 resulted from Bautista Agut's unforced errors.

Bautista Agut was playing his first grand slam semi-final at the age of 31 in a week when he was meant to be on his own stag party in Ibiza. "The stars are aligned right now", said Federer.

Djokovic isn't too shabby himself.

Djokovic will be competing in his sixth Wimbledon final as a four-time champion with only one loss to Britain's Andy Murray in 2013.

Plus, Djokovic has won their four most recent showdowns.

After edging a tense first set by taking the last five points of the tie-break, Federer was overpowered in a 36-minute second set as Nadal, reviving memories of his memorable 2008 final triumph over the Swiss, appeared to have wrestled control.

How excited, then, were the spectators for the rematch?

Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos lost in the semifinals to Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Quickly, that greeting was justified. Oddly enough, since then, the two arch rivals did not cross each other's path at Wimbledon until they came face to face yesterday. He may one day become the most prolific slam victor.

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"He doesn't give you time to open up the court".

It's all on the line in their 48th meeting, and Djokovic must shut off the fact he is facing Wimbledon's darling and channel all that energy into lifting a 16th Grand Slam title.

The Swiss said: "Novak is supreme again".

There was something of an "Anything you can do, I can do, too" vibe to Friday's proceedings.

Federer would kick up chalk with an ace to a corner, and Nadal would do the same in the next game.

Federer won the first set 7-6 (3). "I think he played aggressive, he played a great match, and just well done for him". Who else but Nadal could attack Federer's generally unassailable forehand in such a manner as to draw one so off the mark that it landed in the third row?

"I won a lot of important points in the third and fourth set", said Federer. There were tight ones and long rallies.

Titles in 2011, 2014, 2015 and last year have helped the 32-year-old reach a haul of 15 grand slams, with more surely to come. By ranking (22nd), he should not have presented much of a threat to Djokovic, who had won three of the previous four Grand Slams.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during a men's singles semifinal match at Wimbledon. I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him but it's going to be very hard.

"It's something that is going to be hard to see again, " Nadal acknowledged of their long road together.

"After losing the fourth set it wasn't easy to go on and win the fifth set, I don't know how I did it", said Djokovic, who also reclaimed the world number one ranking.

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