LONDON– Roger Federer is here once more, back in a Wimbledon final for the 11th time, back on the verge of an eighth championship at the All England Club, more than any man has collected in the storied, century-plus history of the place.
Nearly 36, and a father of four, Federer continued his resurgent season and unchallenged run through the fortnight by conjuring just enough brilliance to beat 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Friday.
Federer has won every set he’s played in this year’s tournament and while he did not dominate the semifinal, he was never in much trouble. On Sunday, he will face 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who reached his first final at the All England Club by eliminating 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S. 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 with the help of 25 aces and some terrific returning.
Since equaling Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1880s) with a seventh title at Wimbledon, Federer has come this close before to No. 8. But he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.
Now he gets another chance.
Federer would be the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, which dates to 1968.
Also noteworthy: This is Federer’s second major final of 2017. After taking off the last half of last year while letting a surgically repaired left knee heal, he won the Australian Open in January for his record-extending 18th Grand Slam trophy.
Now only Cilic stands in his way at Wimbledon. They met in the quarterfinals a year ago, when Federer came all the way back after dropping the first two sets to win in five.
They love their history around these parts, and they love Federer, and above all, they love watching him make history. Spectators roared at many of his best offerings against Berdych, who was seeded 11th.
Trailing 3-2 in the third set, for example, Federer faced a couple of break points at 15-40. He couldn’t have done much more than he did to extricate himself from that sticky situation: ace at 107 mph, ace at 116 mph, service winner at 120 mph, ace at 119 mph.
And in the very next game, he surged to a 4-3 lead by breaking Berdych. That was pretty much that.