Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battled for a place in the Wimbledon final on Friday, 11 years after they mesmerized Centre Court at a Grand Slam championship game widely regarded as the greatest ever played.

Nadal emerged triumphant that afternoon, winning in five sets in a four-hour 48-minute epic of varying fortunes that stretched out over seven hours due to continuous, momentum-shifting rain interruptions.

Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 winner at Wimbledon, has the edge overall, leading his great rival and friend 24-15 and 10-3 in the Slams. However, it’s eight-time winner Federer who edges their Wimbledon head-to-head 2-1 after winning the 2006 and 2007 finals before Nadal famously broke the spell in 2008. Mostly, that is due to his age in addition to the dire need to protect his creaking knees that so frequently discriminated against him on the low-bouncing yards of the All England Club.

“I’m running less so I want to serve better. I probably can’t play 20 weeks annually anymore,’ said 33-year-old Nadal.”I’m serving better. I’m hitting the backhand better. Perhaps volleying better, slicing better.”Concerning the bare statistics, there’s little to choose between them.

Nadal has served up 47 aces so much and been divided just four occasions; Federer has 42 aces, dropping function on only three times. The Spanish third seed has yet to face a seeded player and has just been tested after, in his four-set second-round victory over Nick Kyrgios in what was the championship’s most bad-tempered match.

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Federer, 37, is the oldest guy in the semi-finals of a Slam since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors in the 1991 US Open. He’s in his 13th semi-final in the tournament and 45th in the majors. At a career illuminated by landmarks, he became the first man to enroll 100 match won in one Slam when he came back from a set down to beat Kei Nishikori from the quarter-finals.


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