With his biggest hurdle behind him, Roger Federer is in position to cruise to his seventh career Wimbledon title.
Though he has not won a major since the 2010 Australian Open and has not won at the All England Club since 2009, Federer displayed his dominance of old in dismantling Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals.
The top-ranked player in the world looked completely out of sorts on Federer's preferred surface. Normally sure-footed and adept at positioning himself on the court, Djokovic seemed anything but in the semis. Federer went for winners early and often, controlling the action and keeping Djokovic out of sorts.
From the outset, Federer showed no signs that he was the underdog in this match. He exacted his will on Djokovic in the first set, moving his opponent all over the court and never let him get into a comfort zone. Djokovic stumbled both figuratively and literally, failing to hold serve and losing his footing on multiple occasions as Federer grabbed an early lead.
Though Djokovic broke Federer to take the second set, the Swiss overwhelmed the Serb with his serve throughout.
Federer was going up against one of the best returners ever to play the game, but he powered through him with pinpoint accuracy in the service game. He consistently painted the corners of the service box to record 12 aces in the match. Even more impressively, Djokovic had just three break point opportunities and broke Federer only once.
What really made the difference for Federer was his strength on his second serves. True to his form on the day, Federer refused to lay up and rally following a fault. This neutralized Djokovic's return ability and prevented him from turning the tide against Federer.
The key stats on the day paint a picture of Federer's command. To go along with his 11-3 edge in break points, Federer had 10 unforced errors on the day compared to 21 for Djokovic. When Federer punched, Djokovic wilted; when Djokovic counter-punched, Federer weathered and punched again.
Djokovic admitted as much himself afterwards, telling BBC Sports he played "sloppy" and "very slow." Yet the most enlightening remark came when he addressed his opponent.
"He played well," Djokovic said. "No question about it. He was the better player."
There is also no question that Djokovic was Federer's toughest test at Wimbledon.
Federer will face Andy Murray, the pride of Great Britain, in the Wimbledon final. While the home crowd and the Cinderella-esque narrative will be on Murray's side, we saw today just how tough it is to beat Federer when he is in his zone at Wimbledon. Murray is a fine player, but it will take the performance of his career to win his first major against the King of Grass.
In tennis today, it is very clearly Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and everyone else. With Djokovic dispatched and Nadal dealt an early upset, Federer is the last great player standing.
If he wins on Sunday, Federer will tie Pete Sampras for the record for most Wimbledon titles. Not only that, he will also reclaim his No. 1 world ranking for the first time since June 6, 2010. Given the way he played against Djokovic, he would be very deserving of the title.
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