Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 8 October 2015

Big guns are still delivering, warns Roger

By Nick Purewall

Published 05/07/2014

Good view: Brian O'Driscoll and Justin Rose (right) watch yesterday's action unfold from the Royal Box on Centre Court
Good view: Brian O'Driscoll and Justin Rose (right) watch yesterday's action unfold from the Royal Box on Centre Court

The big four's decade-long grand slam cartel is not under immediate threat from tennis' new wave, according to nine-time Wimbledon finalist Roger Federer.

The Swiss grass master dismissed challenger Milos Raonic in a straight-sets show of strength yesterday, edging ever closer to his record eighth All England Club title.

Canada's Raonic had claimed Federer and his Grand Slam-hogging cohorts could not "outrun time" ahead of their last-four clash.

Federer quickly dispelled any notion tennis' guard is about to change – and that after top seed Novak Djokovic had accounted for Queen's Club champion Grigor Dimitrov to boot.

Tournament favourite Djokovic securing his third final against the seven-time champion has a reassuring ring of normal service, admitted a delighted Federer.

"It was always going to be hard to get rid of all four guys at the same time, let's be honest," said Federer, after seeing off Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4.

"It was probably going to be one guy around, maybe two.

"If there are none, it's a big shock; that was the case in Australia. There are two of the big four left here, and at the French it was two.

"From that standpoint, I said before the tournament, it's probably going to be one of the guys we expect to be in the finals.

"Novak did his end – I was hoping I was going to be the other, and I'm very happy about that."

Eighth seed Raonic had dubbed Federer the "magician" who "can do whatever he wants with the ball" ahead of their SW19 showdown.

Federer left his 23-year-old apprentice with the bullet serve spellbound, rolling back the years in an ageless Centre Court expression of poise and style.

The 17-time grand slam winner would become the oldest open era Wimbledon champion with victory over world number two Djokovic tomorrow afternoon.

Back trouble ravaged Federer's 2013, his tame second-round exit at Wimbledon the first time he missed a Grand Slam quarter-final in nine years.

Fully-fit Federer believes he will be as fresh as he can remember heading into tomorrow's final –even though he struggled to recall the last time he reached a Grand Slam's showpiece.

"I don't even remember when my last Grand Slam final was, because you haven't give me much time!" he joked, before recalling claiming the 2012 Wimbledon title.

"Let's just say compared to here this time two years ago, I didn't feel as good, because I was carrying a back problem.

"I must say this year has been very solid, now this tournament has been very good also."

A triumphant Federer admitted a record eighth Wimbledon crown would top his career achievements to date.

"That would mean a lot I must say, I'm unbelievably proud to keep walking the grounds and still be playing here," he said.

"The first was so special in 2003, it was a dream come true.

"That I've been so successful has been an unbelievable thrill."

Relishing his final showdown with Djokovic, Federer said: "It's always great; we always play good matches against each other.

"Novak is a great champion and is used to these occasions. He knows how to get it done, so I hope it's going to be a good match."

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