Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Federer rolls back years by smashing Raonic's big serving game

Marching on: Roger Federer sees off Milos Raonic yesterday

Roger Federer proved he can still "outrun time" and reclaim his grass-court empire by beating Milos Raonic to reach his ninth Wimbledon final.

The 32-year-old dismissed Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in yesterday's semi-final, dispelling the Canadian challenger's prediction his All England Club era could come to a close.

Federer will now face top seed Novak Djokovic in tomorrow's final, where he can claim a record eighth title.

Canada's eighth seed Raonic talked passionately about the challenge of dislodging tennis' top four in the build-up to his first grand slam semi-final.

The 23-year-old believes the new wave of men's talent is finally ready to loosen the decade-long stranglehold enjoyed by Federer, Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Djokovic.

Raonic claimed no one can "outrun time" and delay the inevitable passing of eras after his quarter-final victory over Nick Kyrgios – but even after 17 grand slam victories, Federer still has other ideas.

Djokovic quietened the clamour of Queen's Club champion Grigor Dimitrov to reach his third Wimbledon final, and when Federer took centre stage, he too took the chance to quell any changing of the guard.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion's title defence last year ended with a second-round defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky.

The Swiss grass master had failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in nine years, leaving all and sundry predicting his demise.

Raonic's monster serve may take some containing, but as Federer strode into the final, he upheld his remarkable statistic of dropping just one solitary service game.

Few have troubled Raonic's blitzkrieg serve this fortnight, but Federer snaffled immediate plunder.

The wily Swiss swiftly converted a rapid break point, before holding safely to claim the match's first blood.

Raonic was forced to fend off two more break points in his next service game.

Raonic's whip-crack forehand forced Federer to defend a break point next – but two quick aces sealed the game. Federer then served out the set with little issue.

The second set stayed with serve to four games apiece, until Federer struck again.

A double fault then a loose attempted smash from Raonic offered Federer all the invitation required, and he duly fired a winner down the line.

Raonic pulled Federer back to 30-30 next, only for the all the old match-winning experience to surface once more.

Sensing the threat, Federer swept into the net, buried a volley winner and brushed up the second set. The third set followed the exact pattern of the second, with both men holding serve for four games apiece.

Again Raonic cracked as the pressure built, firing into the net to hand his opponent the break.

Federer then served out the match to book the showdown with the 2011 title winner Djokovic.

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