WIMBLEDON, England —
For Roger Federer, it’s Wimbledon final No. 8.
For Andy Murray, it’s No. 1 — and the first for a British man since 1938.
Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, beat defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Friday under the closed roof at Centre Court to reach a modern-era record eighth final at the All England Club. He is now one victory from equaling Pete Sampras’ record of seven titles.
“I have one more match to go. I’m aware of that,” said the 30-year-old Federer, who is 6-1 in Wimbledon finals. “Still, it’s always nice beating someone like Novak, who has done so well here last year, the last couple years.”
The next challenge will come Sunday against Murray, who is the first British man to even reach the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin 74 years ago. Murray, also trying to become the British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the second semifinal.
If Federer does win Sunday in his 24th Grand Slam final, he would also take the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic and equal Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.
“There’s obviously a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here, the all-time Grand Slam record, world No. 1,” Federer said. “I’m also going into that match with some pressure, but I’m excited about it. That’s what I play for.”
Federer and Djokovic went for winners on almost every point. But it was Federer who got the key points when they mattered in the third set.
“It’s hard to fire bullets the whole time, so you try to also find some range. If he tees off first, it’s hard to defend obviously,” said Federer, now 1-0 against Djokovic on grass. “It’s just not as easy to take that many balls out and come up with amazing shots time and time again. That’s why I kept on attacking.”
At 4-4, Djokovic had his chance with only his third break point of the match. Federer held with three service winners.
Moments later, while serving to stay in the set — and, essentially, the match— Djokovic gifted Federer a pair of break points by blasting an overhead long with much of the court open. He saved one, but Federer’s overhead smash on the second gave the Swiss great the third set, and put him on the way to the final.
“(I) had unfortunately a bad service game on 5-4, and obviously he uses his opportunities when they’re presented,” said Djokovic, who had reached the last four major finals. “So you have to be always consistent. I wasn’t.”
The win improved Federer’s semifinal record at the All England Club to 8-0. His only loss in the final came in 2008, when Rafael Nadal beat him 9-7 in the fifth set.
“I hope I can keep my nerves,” said Federer, looking toward the final. “I’m sure I can. Then hopefully win the match. But we’ll see about that.”
William Renshaw and Arthur Gore also played in eight Wimbledon finals but that was when the defending champion received a bye into the following year’s title match. That rule was changed in 1922. Renshaw won seven titles and Gore three.
On Friday, Federer had the only break of the first set to take the lead, and Djokovic returned the favor in the second set to even the score.
The third set proved decisive, and Djokovic fought to stay in it right from the start. After holding easily, Federer gained a break point when Djokovic sent a forehand long. Although the Serb saved it, and eventually held to 1-1, it was the beginning of the end for him.
The next three games went quickly and on serve, but Federer then earned a pair of break points in the sixth game. Djokovic again saved them, the first after a 24-stroke rally that ended with Federer’s forehand going wide.
“He was the better player. In the important moments he was aggressive, hitting from both sides,” Djokovic said. “Obviously, that’s what you expect when you play against Roger at the final four of a Grand Slam. I knew that.”
Murray later played Tsonga under an open roof on Centre Court, and under intense pressure to succeed in front of the British public.
“Big relief,” Murray said. “I just got to try to keep it together for the final.”
Only minutes after the match ended, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the victory “great news.”
“I’ll be watching the final on Sunday and like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray,” Cameron said in a statement. “I wish him the best of luck.”
Murray got off to a fast start, serving well and winning the first two sets easily. And after losing the third, he hung on in the fourth, breaking in the final game with a forehand return winner.
“At the beginning was tough because he played well,” Tsonga said. “I mean, he didn’t give me one chance, one chance to go to the net. He didn’t miss one serve. He was really, really good.”
The 25-year-old Murray was playing in the Wimbledon semifinals for the fourth straight year. Now he made it to that elusive final, and on Sunday he’ll be facing an opponent who beat him in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open final and the 2010 Australian Open final.
“I’ve had experience playing Roger in the finals of slams before,” Murray said. “I’m going to use that to my advantage and learn from my mistakes and also the things he did well.”
In Murray’s only other major final, the 2011 Australian Open, he lost to Djokovic — again in straight sets.
“Hopefully,” Murray said, “I can go one better on Sunday.”
WIMBLEDON, England —
For Roger Federer, it’s Wimbledon final No. 8.
H.S. girls lacrosse: Lewisburg routs Danville for district championship
By Anthony Mitchell For The Daily Item MIDDLEBURG -- Danville was making its first appearance in the district final. The Ironmen reached it by outlasting Selinsgrove in the semifinals and were looking to play the role of the popular, new kid and knock off Lewisburg, a perennial title contender.
H.S. boys lacrosse: Selinsgrove stays undefeteatd in District 4 title win
By Anthony Mitchell For The Daily Item MIDDLEBURG " Selinsgrove coach Tom Garlock mentioned after the Seals' semifinal victory against Mifflinburg last Thursday that a celebration would start with a win on Tuesday over Lewisburg.
H.S. girls track: Selinsgrove junior manages injuries to earn PIAA berth
By Todd Hummel For The Daily Item SELINSGROVE -- Junior Brianna Carnathan took a deep breath on Tuesday afternoon at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field and began to talk about the different injuries that have hindered her since last year.
H.S. baseball: Early scoring helps Southern Columbia win playoff opener
By Marion Valanoski For The Daily Item CATAWISSA -- Matt Perry knew very little about the Southern Columbia baseball team heading into Tuesday's District 4 Class A baseball playoff opener. The Mansfield head coach was concerned after watching the host team during batting practice about the small field and the shifting wind currents.
H.S. tennis: Lewisburg's Barr named HAC-II Coach of the Year
By The Daily Item The Lewisburg High boys tennis squad continued to make waves this year, and plenty of Green Dragons were honored as the Heartland Athletic Conference's coaches selected their 2013 All-Star team.
H.S. baseball: Upper Dauphin loses in first round of District 3 playoffs
By The Daily Item CAMP HILL -- It was like deja vu all over again for the Upper Dauphin High baseball team as the District 3 Class AA playoffs got underway on Monday.
Professional basketball: Bucknell's Muscala writes in his 'Draft Diary' about NBA journey
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is Mike Muscala's own account of his journey to the NBA through the league's "Draft Diary." Please visit the NBA's "All Ball Blog" at "http://allball.blogs.nba.com/category/draft-diaries/" to read more on Muscala and other NBA rookie hopefuls.
H.S. track and field: Selinsgrove senior battles through injury to help Seal girls win gold
By Eric Shultz For The Daily Item For a while, it seemed as if an abundance of hard work had just gone down the drain.
College notebook: Bucknell narrowly wins Patriot League President's Cup
By The Daily Item It was not easy, but Bucknell added another Patriot League President's Cup to its name, extending its conference dominance in 2012-13.
High school sports: Valley teams gear up for postseason
Nine softball teams, six baseball squads eye district titles
Bob Garrett's No Child Left Indoors series: Just let wild animals be
A quick guide on what to do if and when you or a family member encounters a baby animal in the wild.
Boys track and field: Wary performance at districts
Shikellamy junior collects three individual Class AAA gold medals
H.S. girls track: Shikellamy relay turns disappointment into triumph in district meet
Sometimes disappointment can be a great motivating factor as half of the Shikellamy girls 1600 relay found out on Saturday afternoon at the District 4 Track and Field meet at Susquehanna University.
H.S. softball: Fifth-inning rally propels Midd-West past Shikellamy
By Anthony Mitchell For The Daily Item MIDDLEBURG -- The fifth inning has been Shikellamy's Achilles heel all season long according to Braves coach Heidi Kerchoff.
H.S. track and field: Selinsgrove senior jumper Lockcuff fighting through an injury
SELINSGROVE " As an athlete, working through an injury while trying to reach the top level of your sport can have the coaches and the athlete walking a tightrope.
Harold Raker's high school track & field column: Numbers game at District 4 meet
As you enjoy your morning coffee, or tea, this morning, athletes from as close as Shamokin and East Juniata to as far away as Athens and Sayre are warming up at Susquehanna University for what many of them hope will be the next to last weekend of track and field for the 2013 season.
- More Sports Headlines
- H.S. girls lacrosse: Lewisburg routs Danville for district championship