Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - Wimbledon champion Roger Federer
outlasted former U.S. Open titlist Juan Martin del Potro in an epic showdown,
while Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray upset former top-ranked star Novak
Djokovic in Friday's other semifinal at the London Olympic Games. Federer and
Murray will battle in Sunday's gold medal match at the storied All England
The world No. 1 Federer won a war of attrition against the eighth-seeded
Argentine del Potro, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17, while the third-seeded heavy
British crowd favorite Murray doused the second-seeded Australian Open and
U.S. Open titlist Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 on the grass on the famed Centre Court.
The Swiss great Federer needed 4 hours, 26 minutes in the longest best-of-
three match in the Open Era to stave off del Potro, who stunned Federer in the
2009 U.S. Open finale. The third set alone took 2 hours, 43 minutes to
"I was very tense at certain times," said the 30-year-old Federer. "I was
seeing myself as a loser many times during the match."
The previous longest men's three-set singles match was in a semifinal in
Madrid in 2009, in which Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in 4 hours, 3
Del Potro probably played as well as he could on Friday, while Federer fought
himself, as evidenced by an uncharacteristic 41 unforced errors. The super
Swiss could convert on only 2-of-13 break-point chances in the marathon
But Federer was able to bail himself out with a brilliant service game on
He secured only his second break of the match to grab an 18-17 lead in
the third set when del Potro netted a backhand, giving the Swiss his first
match point of the day. Federer then netted a backhand volley to bring things
back to deuce, but moments later, on his second match point, the Swiss legend
advanced when the towering Argentine put one final backhand into the net.
"I felt for him in a big way," Federer said of del Potro, "because I've been
there as well.
"It was an emotional hug we shared at the net," Federer added. "Emotionally
I'm extremely drained. I guess I'll feel it tomorrow...I was very, very
touched at the end."
Federer notched his first break of the day to take a short-lived 10-9 lead in
the final set, but del Potro stunned the Swiss by breaking right back with
only his second break of the match.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer out-aced del Potro 24-11 on Day 7 of
this nine-day event.
Federer is now 13-2 lifetime against del Potro, including wins in their last
seven matchups. The Swiss icon is a perfect 6-0 versus the 6-foot-6 South
American this year.
"It's not an easy situation. Someone always has to win these matches, and
today it was his turn," said a dejected del Potro.
The amazing Federer, who captured a men's-record-tying seventh Wimbledon title
in this London suburb just last month, needs an Olympic singles title to
complete a coveted career Golden Slam.
Meanwhile, the Dunblane, Scotland native Murray outdueled his good friend and
fellow 25-year-old Djokovic in exactly two hours, as the Brit secured two
huge breaks, while his Serbian counterpart was unable to notch a break in the
disappointing setback. Djokovic went 0-for-4 on his break-point chances.
A determined Murray, who broke Djokovic to end the quality bout, converted on
his first match point at 6-5, 40-love in the second set when Djokovic was
unable to connect on a underhand volley at the net.
Federer will seek career title number 76 on Sunday. He's 5-1 in his 2012
finals, including his first major title in 2 1/2 years when he ran the table
here at the All England Club last month.
Murray will appear in his 35th career final, seeking a 23rd title and first-
ever Olympic gold medal. He's 1-3 in his 2012 finals, including a loss to
Federer in the Wimbledon finale here last month.
Federer and Murray have split 16 career matches, but the Swiss has won the
last three. Federer won their lone career matchup on grass at the All England
Club four weeks ago.
Djokovic and del Potro will play for bronze on Sunday.
The Sports Network