Wimbledon 2019: Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal to set up meeting in final with Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer defeated his old rival Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer defeated his old rival Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer defeated his old rival Rafael Nadal in four compelling sets to reach his 12th Wimbledon final, where he will meet Novak Djokovic. Here's a full review and highlights from both semi-finals.

Federer wins 40th instalment of great rivalry

Roger Federer gained his revenge 11 years on with victory over great rival Rafael Nadal to reach a 12th Wimbledon final.

A rematch of their classic 2008 title decider, won in five pulsating sets by Nadal, had been anticipated more than any match for years at the All England Club and it did not disappoint.

The final stages were packed full of extraordinary tension and drama, with Nadal saving four match points but, after three hours and two minutes, it was Federer, a month shy of his 38th birthday, who clinched a 7-6 (3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory and the chance to take on Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Should he win, it would give the ageless Swiss a ninth Wimbledon title and take him to 21 Grand Slam trophies, three ahead of Nadal and six clear of Djokovic.

"I'm exhausted," Federer told the BBC. "It was tough at the end, Rafa played some unbelievable shots. It was played at a very high level. Battles with Rafa are always special.

"I think the biggest points in the match went my way. That first set was huge as well, to get the lead, but he came very back very strongly. It was a joy to play today.

"Novak played great against Bautista Agut, he was supreme, again. He's the defending champion and he has shown why."

Nadal said: "I had my chances. He played a little bit better than me, I think. Probably I didn't play as good as I did in the previous rounds, and he played well. So he deserves it. Congrats to him.

"We know that every time is less chances to play against each other in these high quality, high important matches," he said. "Is another chance this afternoon. I'm sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity."

This was Federer and Nadal's 40th meeting, a clash of styles and personalities that dates back 15 years and continues to capture the imagination like nothing else in sport.

Nadal had won 24 of their previous 39 matches and 10 of 13 at the slams but victory for Federer in the 2017 Australian Open final had shown him that he could win again when it mattered most.

Indeed, Nadal had not beaten Federer on a surface other than clay since 2014, ending a run of five straight defeats in the semi-finals of the French Open last month.

But the 33-year-old has played on grass without pain in his knees for the last couple of years and had looked in fine fettle throughout this fortnight.

The Spaniard's serve had been particularly impressive - he went into the match having served more aces than Federer - and the first set was notable for how few rallies there were.

John Isner or Ivo Karlovic would have been proud of the serving statistics both men produced, with the only break point coming in the eighth game and saved by Nadal.

Federer was getting significantly more returns in play, though, and in the tie-break that paid dividends.

Nadal was twice an early mini-break up but Federer won the final five points to take first blood, his backhand, so often the bellwether of his chances against his great rival, purring like a vintage sports car.

Had he taken one of two break points in the third game of the second set, he might have pulled away, but the engine began to misfire a little and Nadal raced through the next four games to level the match.

Federer needed to re-calibrate, and he did, holding serve comfortably at the start of the third set and then dialling right back in to break for 3-1.

He won the game on a ding-dong point at the net, Nadal grimacing in frustration at having been unable to get the ball past his opponent.

This was the contest that had been salivated over, serve no longer on top, each man testing the other to the limit in pulsating rallies.

Nadal had two chances to break straight back but Federer saved them, the master attacker showing his rival that he, too, can defend as if his life depended on it.

The crowd roared their approval as he held for 4-1 and one break proved more than enough, Federer finishing an almost perfect set with a tally of 15 winners and two unforced errors.

It was Nadal looking short of answers but the fist pump towards his box when he held serve to open the fourth set showed that he would do everything he could to try to find them.

But, despite being nearly five years younger than his opponent, it was he who seemed to have lost the spring in his step and Federer took another step towards the finish line with a break for 2-1.

Nadal had been irked by being seeded lower than Federer despite his higher ranking and he screamed at himself when another chance to apply real pressure went begging in the sixth game.

So often he has been able to rouse himself to new heights at the most important moments but here the moments of magic were coming from the other end.

When Nadal saved two match points at 3-5, it seemed like this contest may have a twist reminiscent of 2008, and the final game was virtually a match in itself.

A shanked smash betrayed Federer's nerves but he held firm to save a break point and kept pushing forward when Nadal produced two of his best points of the match to save two more match points.

On the fifth chance, Nadal's resistance finally ran out, Federer raising his arms skywards as a last, desperate backhand flew long.

Djokovic battles past Bautista Agut to reach final

A tetchy Novak Djokovic booked his place in the final after ending Roberto Bautista Agut's Wimbledon party.

The reigning champion overcame a slump midway through the semi-final, which saw him bait the Centre Court crowd, to win 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 and reach a sixth SW19 showpiece and 25th overall in grand slams.

This match was always billed as the appetiser to the main event - the second last-four clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - and it provided suitable entertainment to whet the appetite.

Bautista Agut, playing in his first grand slam semi-final, has had to delay his stag do in Ibiza this week due to his unexpected run in the tournament, but he showed he was not ready for his time in London to end just yet.

He outplayed the world number one in the second set to level the match up, much to the delight of the crowd, which in turned irked Djokovic.

But an angry Djokovic is often an unplayable one and he whizzed through the final two sets to move within one win of a fifth Wimbledon crown.

The Spaniard, who had beaten Djokovic twice on tour this year, will at least be able to drown his sorrows in the Mediterranean as he and his six friends are due to fly out later on.

'Amnesia' is one of the big super clubs on the party island and Bautista Agut will be keen to forget the first set.

For the opening half an hour it looked like the first point of the match was as good as it was going to get for him.

After he fired an unplayable backhand return that arrowed down the line for a brilliant winner, things quickly deteriorated and Djokovic surged into a 3-0 lead after taking his opponent's serve at the first attempt.

It took the 31-year-old 17 minutes to get on the board, but Djokovic was in the zone, playing at his imperious best, and he took the set with a second break, courtesy of another forehand error from Bautista Agut.

Both of his previous wins over Djokovic this year came from a set down, so he found himself in familiar territory as he looked to mount a repair job.

Bautista Agut was helped by a significant drop in his opponent's level, which allowed him to steal a break early in the second set.

Errors were beginning to come regularly from Djokovic's racket and Bautista Agut shook off two more missed break points to serve the set out.

Djokovic was seemingly upset at the crowd's support of the underdog, baiting them by ironically throwing his arms up and later putting his finger against his lips.

Perhaps he was just using it as a tool to fire himself up because it worked.

The Serb broke in the sixth game and then immediately held off two break-back points, the second one coming after a 45-shot rally that had him cupping his ear to the Centre Court crowd.

Novak Djokovic celebrates reaching another Wimbledon final
Djokovic showed his frustration at times on Friday

He was able to serve out the third set to regain his lead and, sensing blood, he made a move at the start of the fourth.

Bautista Agut had to fend off three break points in a 13-minute opening game, but could not stem the tide much longer and Djokovic grabbed two successive breaks to ensure he got the job done in four sets.

"It's a dream come true," said Djokovic. "Playing finals at Wimbledon is something different.

"I had to dig deep, he was not really overwhelmed with the stadium, the occasion - he played really well.

"It was very close (in the third set) - that's when the match was decided."

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