After a torn meniscus, the stomach flu, back injuries, and his first Slam missed in 16 years, one could be forgiven for believing that Roger Federer’s ability to compete for Grand Slams and consistently defeat top players was slipping away. Though Federer withdrew from the French Open and has yet to win a title this season, it seems he has managed to return to his normal level.
This was no more evident than in his quarterfinal match of these Championships.
In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, in what Chris Fowler called “one of the great wins of his career,” Roger Federer mounted a comeback from two sets to love down to defeat Marin Cilic 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(11), 6-3. Cilic had never lost a Slam match after winning the first two sets (51-0), and used his powerful groundstrokes, and especially his serve, to dominate play for the first half of the match. However, Federer gained momentum, winning the third set after a hold from 0-40 down earlier in the set.
The fourth set was the turning point, as Federer saved two match points—on his serve at 4-5 and 5-6—to force a tiebreaker in which he saved another match point. Having allowed opportunity to pass him by, Cilic began to show slight signs of fatigue and was unable to dominate as he had previously. Federer broke at 4-3 and closed the match on his serve with an ace.
After only having played 6 tournaments this year due to injury and illness, it seemed reasonable to question whether Federer would be in playing shape during these Championships. He has proven that, at 34, he can still contend with the top players and go deep in Slam draws. Due to Novak Djokovic’s early round upset, Federer has a premiere opportunity—perhaps one of the last of his career—to add an 18th Slam title to his collection.
Andy Murray also was pushed to five sets in his quarterfinal match, but he eventually prevailed 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 against 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray started strong before Tsonga raised his level to win the third set. Murray then failed to consolidate a break in the fourth set and allowed Tsonga back into the match. In the fifth, after holding for 1-0, Murray shouted, “I’m not going to lose this match,” after which he immediately broke twice for 4-0. Tsonga held once before Murray ended the match with an ace.
Like Federer, Murray must sense the opportunity created by Djokovic’s upset, though, as the commentators have pointed out, Nole’s early loss will only affect the final for Murray as the two were on opposite ends of the draw. Even so, the British fans have buoyed Murray, and his home court advantage (and his recent level of tennis) bode well for a potential second Wimbledon title.
Elsewhere at the All England Club
Big-serving Canadian and 6th seed Milos Raonic used that weapon to defeat Sam Querrey and book a spot in the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 victory. Winning 87 percent of first serve points and 71 percent of second serve points, Raonic rode near-flawless serving to the next round. With the exception of a bobble in the third set, the Raonic serve was impenetrable. He takes on Roger Federer in the next round.
No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych also advanced to the semifinals with a 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-2 victory over surprise quarterfinalist Lucas Pouille. He will take on Andy Murray in the semifinals.