Roger Federer moved one step closer to his record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Swiss is looking for his second major title of the season after his win at the Australian Open and would snap a tie with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw with an eighth crown at the All-England Club.
It looked to be Federer who would seize the early initiative, a break point in the opening game of the match, but some fine play from the baseline and big serving got Berdych out of trouble.
Two more break chances came the Swiss’ way and after letting the first opportunity slip by, a deep forehand return and drive volley secured the break and a 3-2 lead. Only having been broken three times the entire tournament, it was hard to see a way back into the set for the Czech.
The 11th seed, a former finalist here, would see his first chance to break in the eighth game, a Federer double-fault setting it up, but a limp crosscourt forehand wiped away his opportunity. After another chance came and went, on his third opportunity, the breakthrough was made when Federer uncharacteristically double-faulted again.
Both men would hold out and the set would go to a tiebreak. The first minibreak went to the seven-time champion as he aggressively moved forward to put away a backhand volley for a 3-1 lead. Both players missed easy forehands and the Swiss was now ahead 5-3.
At 6-4, Federer had set point on his own serve and he wrapped up the set when Berdych’s backhand flew on him and the third seed had won his 14th straight set at the tournament, two sets from an incredible 11th final.
Again, it was the Swiss who would get the first break chance of the second set. Leading 2-1 and in good position, his return was too short and Berdych dispatched it with ease. A second break chance was swatted away with strong serving and the 11th seed escaped with a hold.
Bar that one game where Berdych broke, Federer’s service games have been quick and routine, but at 3-3, he faced another test when the Czech’s massive forehand winner brought up break point. An otherworldly crosscourt forehand saved the Swiss’s skin and he would go on to hold.
Once again, both men held out for a tiebreaker (with Berdych escaping 15-30 in the tenth game) and a tiebreak, as it did in the first set, would decide the second. As with the first set tiebreak, it was the Swiss who grabbed the early lead, firing off four forehand winners in a row to go from 1-1 to 5-1.
Again at 6-4 in the breaker with set point, this time it was Berdych who was serving to stay in the set and a backhand return from Federer forced a miss off that same win for the Czech and the seven-time champion was ahead two sets to none, a set away from a place in the final.
The pattern of Federer having the first break chances of the set continued and in the third set, he put away a smash to set up 30-40 at 2-2. Again, Berdych found his way out of the jam with strong serving and it was 3-2 to the Czech.
It looked like the 2010 finalist would grab some late momentum when he brought up 15-40 on Federer’s serve, but consecutive aces snuffed out the threat and the Swiss would go on to hold. Those missed chances would prove to be crucial as the 18-time major champion broke after an unforced error.
From there, the Swiss would have little issue, holding to love for a 5-3 lead and at 5-4 40-15, a final error from Berdych sent the third seed to the final against Marin Cilic. The Croat is seeking his second major title, having won the 2014 U.S. Open, dominating Federer in the semifinals.