Federer keeps hopes of eighth title alive
Roger Federer may never have a better chance of claiming an eighth Wimbledon title and 18th grand slam after winning his all-Swiss last-eight encounter with Stanislas Wawrinka to move into the semi-finals.
With Andy Murray, who had been the defending champion, swiftly following Rafael Nadal out of the tournament, Federer saw to it personally that another of his rivals for the All England Club crown was chalked off the list.
Federer came from a set down to see off Australian Open champion Wawrinka 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes on Centre Court, reaching his ninth Wimbledon semi-final. He hasn't lost a single one of them.
But it will be no walkover for Federer, who now has the tough task of getting past Milos Raonic after the big-hitting Canadian saw off Nadal's conqueror Nick Kyrgios. Grigor Dimitrov thrashed Andy Murray while Novak Djokovic edged past Marin Cilic to set up the other semi-final.
Ominously for all of them, Federer is firing on all cylinders once again with 2013's shock second-round exit to Sergiy Stakhovsky a fading memory.
"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I'm back strong this year," Federer said. "Last year was such a disappointment. I always try to win it and last year I didn't even come close. I was very deflated leaving on that note. It's good to be back in the semis, the prospect of going a step or two further is very exciting.
"It's always nice playing on Centre, I always enjoy myself. I've been coming here since 1998. We've had the chance to get to know each other a bit. Clearly it's always a shock when the defending champion goes out, it puts more pressure on the favourite, really.
"It's tough, I must say Stan played great for the first two sets. Then he started to struggle with his fitness. Before that, he was hitting the ball too well, too cleanly for me to do anything, I had to wait two and a half sets to get my first break."
Wawrinka, who beat Federer for his first Masters crown at Monte Carlo in April, threatened to send another member of tennis' established 'big four' packing from SW19 after taking the first set.
However, Federer managed to edge the second-set tie-breaker to level the match.
Wawrinka's exertions this week then seemingly started to catch up with him - this was his third match in as many days, due to the rain-affected schedule. He battled on but Federer closed out the third set after an early break.
Another early break in the fourth put Federer on course for the last four, before he took his fifth match point.
Raonic, meanwhile, reached his first grand slam semi-final after coming from behind to beat the ever-enthusiastic Kyrgios 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 7-6(4).
"It hasn't sunk in just yet but it's great to have that kind of win - especially at a tournament that I've always wanted to do well at," Raonic said.
"My goal is to be the best player in the world and this is another step forward in all I want to achieve - and on the biggest stage too.
"Playing Roger is the biggest kind of challenge and one that I will relish. I can't wait."