• Wimbledon, Day 12

Federer topples Djokovic to reach Wimbledon final

ESPN staff
July 6, 2012

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Murray fends off Tsonga

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Roger Federer kept his dream of a seventh Wimbledon title alive after he rolled back the years to defeat defending champion Novak Djokovic to reach his eighth final at the All England Club.

The world No. 3 was pegged back by a resurgent Djokovic after winning the opening set, but an inspired spell of play late in the third and early in the fourth set put him on course for a 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 victory.

Federer is one match away from a return to world No. 1 for the first time in over two years - he will top the world rankings if he wins a seventh Wimbledon crown on Sunday. The Swiss will face home favourite Andy Murray in the final after the No. 4 seed beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets.

Meeting for a record 11th time in a grand slam, the much-anticipated semi-final - a first meeting between the pair on grass - took a while to warm up under the Centre Court roof.

With neither player looking under pressure on their serve in the early stages, it was Federer who took first blood, forging break point with a backhand pass as Djokovic slipped at the net, before the Serb netted a backhand as Federer snatched a 4-2 lead en route to taking the opening set.

Clearly rattled, Djokovic opened the second set with a double fault, but he rallied and grabbed an early break when a Federer forehand failed to clear the net. With Djokovic starting to find his feet, Federer survived a wobble to avoid going a double break down as the Serb replied with a love service game to level proceedings.

When Federer saw a handful of break point chances pass him by early in the third set, it looked like it might prove costly for the third seed as the match began to kick into life. In a lengthy sixth game Federer surrendered another break point as a forehand flashed wide.

With the third set seemingly destined for a tiebreak as Djokovic served at 5-4, a missed smash proved costly as he gifted Federer two set points. The Serb saved the first with a serve and forehand winner, but after a thrilling rally, Federer sealed the set, burying a smash after an attempted lob from Djokovic.

Although he looked calm and unflustered as he returned to his chair at the end of the third set, Djokovic was left to rue a couple of errors early in the fourth as the match slipped from his grasp - flashing a forehand wide to hand Federer an early break.

Djokovic was forced to save another three break points when trailing 4-1 in the fourth, and Federer was indomitable on serve as he edged closer to victory. Serving for the match, he banished memories of his US Open semi-final defeat to Djokovic last year (when the Serb saved two match points en route to a five-set triumph) to wrap up victory in two hours and 19 minutes.

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