Roger Federer continues to find new ways to shock the tennis world.
The Swiss legend scratched and clawed his way to an epic 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17 win over Juan Martin del Potro. The four hour, 26 minute match is officially the longest in a three-set match in the Open era according to the Associated Press.
There were multiple times in the match where the four-time Olympian looked to be in deep trouble, and even Federer himself wondered if he was about to lose. “I was very tense at certain times. I was seeing myself as a loser many times during the match,” he told the AP.
Critics said the 30-year-old couldn’t win another Grand Slam event—and he did. Now, less than a month after his triumph at Wimbledon, Federer has the chance to earn the final missing piece to his sparkling resume: a gold medal.
Standing in his way will be hometown favorite, No. 3-seed Andy Murray, who fended off No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 in another thriller.
Emotions were running high for the Scot, who even threw his racket down in disgust at one point after an unforced error. But with the English crowd furiously cheering in his favor, Murray overcame his emotions in an outstanding all-around performance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the women’s side featured two absolutely dominating performances.
No. 4 Serena Williams made No. 1 ranked Victoria Azarenka look like an amateur in her 6-1, 6-2 romp. Williams is playing the best tennis we’ve seen in quite some time as she continues to demolish everyone in her way at the London Olympics. Williams’ doubles match with sister Venus was cancelled later in the day.
Her opponent in the finals of single’s play will be Maria Sharapova, who was equally as strong in her 6-2, 6-3 straight-set win over No. 14 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3.
The all-Russian, all-Maria showdown featured plenty of punishing Sharapova serves that Kirilenko had no answer for.
Now the finals are set.
No. 1 Roger Federer d. No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17
No. 3 Andy Murray d. No. 2 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5
No. 3 Maria Sharapova d. No. 14 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3
No. 4 Serena Williams d. No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2
Federer-Murray at the All England Club, Round 2.
Less than a month after Federer beat Murray to take home the 2012 Wimbledon title, the two will be back at the scene for a much different prize.
You can win the Wimbledon title once a year; you can only win an Olympic gold medal once every four.
This is going to be an incredibly memorable match and one of the real highlights of the entire Olympics. With the way Murray seemed to feed off the energy of the London crowd, he’s going to be very difficult to beat.
Then again, this is Roger Federer we’re talking about. He is arguably the greatest player to ever grace a tennis court, and seems to be on a mission to fill out the most incredible resume the sport has ever seen.
The anticipation for Sunday is going to be incredible.
Ditto for the ladies.
Sharapova beat Serena at Wimbledon eight years ago in the 2004 final, but overall, it’s Serena with an 8-2 lead in head-to-head matches, including three wins in Grand Slam finals.
Williams has won 33 of her last 34 matches and Sharapova has won 20 of 21. There is no question they are the two best women’s players right now and the finals is going to be a nail-biter. Right now, you have to give the slightest of edges to Serena in what is basically a coin flip.
Sunday is going to be an incredible day for the sport of tennis, since officials have finally decided to make Olympic tennis a priority.
This is basically the equivalent of a fifth Grand Slam final.