Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic and eight-time winner Roger Federer are set to square off for the third time in the Wimbledon final.
Both triumphed over their Spanish opponents in the semifinals at London’s All England Club on Friday.
Djokovic, who won his fourth Wimbledon championship last year, dispatched Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets on Centre Court to reach his sixth final.
Later in the day, Federer, who has won a record eight Wimbledon titles, defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal in a similar fashion.
Djokovic got the better of Federer in their previous two Wimbledon finals in 2014 and 2015, both of which were five-set thrillers.
“[Djokovic] is the defending champion and he has shown why this week,” Federer said after his match with Nadal on Friday.
Roger Federer (right) serves during his match against Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semifinals
Federer-Nadal Wimbledon rivalry resumes
Federer and Nadal squared off at Centre Court on Friday, their first Wimbledon match since Nadal beat Federer in an exhilarating five-set final in 2008.
The 37-year-old Swiss, who beat Nadal in the 2006 and 2007 Wimbledon finals, took the first set of their semifinal, overturning Spaniard’s 3-2 lead in the tiebreaker by winning five straight points. But Nadal charged back in the second set, breaking the Swiss twice in a row and serving it out at love.
Federer then took control of the match in the third set, finally breaking Nadal to take a 3-1 lead before before taking the third set 6-3. He broke serve again to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth set and held serve the rest of the way to seal the victory.
With the 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, Federer extended his own all-time record with his 12th Wimbledon final appearance.
Only broken once
Though Bautista Agut put up a good fight in his first Grand Slam semifinal, Djokovic held off the 23rd seeded Spaniard 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The 32-year-old Serb was broken once in the second set, which allowed Bautista Agut to even the score at one set apiece. The match also featured a remarkable 45-shot rally in the seventh game of the third set, which Djokovic won to hold serve and stay a break up.
“I had to dig deep,” Djokovic said afterwards. “It’s the semifinals and Roberto was not overwhelmed.”
The defending champion then took the third set before cruising in the fourth, though he needed five match points in the final game to clinch the victory.
The win put Djokovic in his 25th career Grand Slam final — he has won 15 of his previous 24. He holds a 4-1 record in Wimbledon final, with his only loss coming against Scotland’s Andy Murray in 2013.
Wimbledon is the world’s oldest tennis tournament and is held annually at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet club in Wimbledon, London. In 2009, its Centre Court was fitted with a retractable roof to lessen the loss of playing time due to rain. There are 18 courts used for the Championships (and 22 practice courts) and it takes 15 months and nine tonnes of grass seed to prepare the courts.
In modern sports, where advertising dominates team kits and color is everywhere, there is something brilliant about the fact that the kits of Wimbledon players must be 90 percent white. White does not include cream or off-white, just white. Originally, it was to avoid sweat showing. Andre Agassi’s wild taste was tamed in the 90s, while Roger Federer’s orange-soled shoes weren’t part of the code.
It might look like good fun being a ball boy/girl at Wimbledon, but training for those in charge of the balls and the towels is perhaps tougher than any other tournament. The 14 to 18-year-old school children train for five months and from 700 applicants, only 250 end up on the coveted grass. The average age is 15 and most spend two years as a ball boy/girl.
Apart from the green of the grass and the white of the kit, the other color often seen at Wimbledon is red. Strawberries and cream are the tournament’s favorite dish. During the tournament, 28,000 kilograms of strawberries and 10,000 liters of fresh cream are eaten. Add to that the 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 29,000 bottles of champagne and 25,000 scones then it’s no surprise Wimbledon is awesome.
One thing about grass that other tournaments can’t offer is more remarkable shots. A 17-year-old Boris Becker made it famous when he won hearts and the Wimbledon trophy in 1985, but his famous dive carried on even after he stopped played. In 2011, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had an incredible rally of diving shots, while Dustin Brown did the same against Lleyton Hewitt in 2013.
Both the men’s and women’s trophies are some of the finest in sport. The Rosewater Dish, the trophy for the women’s single champion, has a mythological theme and has the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare (Minerva) etched around the rim. The champions receive a three-quarter size replica with all the previous champions engraved, as well as the $2.8 million both winners receive.
dv/msh (AP, Reuters)