I'm benefiting from feeling fresh and confident: Federer
Roger Federer has declared himself fit and raring to go after he did what Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic could not by cruising through to the Wimbledon semi-finals.
While Djokovic retired injured against Tomas Berdych and Murray was hampered by a hip problem in his loss to Sam Querrey, Federer barely broke sweat in a straight-sets win over Milos Raonic.
He eased past the Canadian 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in one hour and 58 minutes.
The 35-year-old is now the only member of the game's 'big four' left standing at the All England Club and, close to his blistering best, looks primed to win a 19th Grand Slam title.
Murray and Djokovic's physical problems, in particular, appear to highlight the wisdom of Federer's selective approach to the tennis calendar.
He took six months off last year to recover from a knee injury and then sat out the recent clay-court season, instead choosing to rest and recuperate for the summer.
"I'm rested. I'm fresh. I'm confident, too. Then great things do happen. Confidence is a huge thing," Federer said.
"Last year I had a hard, hard time practicing through the clay-court season. The grass-court season was difficult because of the back issues I had and the knee issues.
"This year I'm just a normal tennis player again where I can focus on tactics. I think that's the difference. I'm playing very well."
Federer will now face 11th seed Berdych, against whom he has won his last seven matches in a row, before a potential final with either Marin Cilic or Querrey.
It means Federer is now the overwhelming favourite to claim a record eighth Wimbledon title this weekend.
"Being the favourite or not the favourite doesn't matter, these other guys are all big hitters," Federer said.
"They've got big serves, big forehands - big hitters really. All three guys are taller and stronger than I am.
"I've got to figure out a different way, carve my way through the draw somehow with my slice and my spins, my consistency. I'm looking forward to doing that."
Djokovic said he has been suffering with an elbow injury for around 18 months and admitted his and Murray's ailments could be linked to their heavy workloads last year.
"You wish them well right away as a rival to them and a friend," Federer said.
"It does happen. Novak's not missed any Slams basically. I don't want to say sooner or later these things unfortunately happen but he's played a lot of tennis in recent years.
"For him to be hurt at some stage is only normal. That's why we want him to recover quickly.
"Andy, I hope by playing he didn't make things worse. It's big for him to step out on court and give it a go, even though maybe knowing, like me last year, that chances are slim he was going to defend this title."
Federer incredibly made just three unforced errors during two dazzling sets, and while he dipped briefly in the third, Raonic never looked convinced of a comeback.
"He's doing a lot of things well," Raonic said.
"He kept a very high gear the whole entire time without giving many real glimpses. I think that was the most sort of defeating thing."
Independent News Service