By CHRIS LEHOURITES, Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Roger Federer advanced to his record eighth Wimbledon final on Friday, beating defending champion Novak Djokovic in four sets.
The six-time champion defeated Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 under a closed roof on Centre Court and is one victory from equaling two other records in an already record-laden career.
"This is what you want to be playing for — the Wimbledon trophy," Federer said. "I've got a tough task ahead of me."
If Federer beats either Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final, he will equal Pete Sampras' record of seven Wimbledon titles, a mark he shares with 1880s player William Renshaw. He would also take over the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic and equal Sampras' record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.
Murray and Tsonga were to play in the other semifinal later Friday. Neither has won a Grand Slam title; Federer is aiming for his 17th.
"There's obviously a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here, the all-time Grand Slam record, world No. 1," Federer said. "I'm also going into that match with some pressure, but I'm excited about it. That's what I play for."
Both Federer and Djokovic went for winners on almost every point. But it was Federer who got the key points when they mattered in the third set.
"I was able to play some fantastic tennis today," Federer said. "The first two sets went really quickly, and then the third set was obviously key to the match. I was able to maybe step it up, get a bit lucky maybe."
At 4-4, Djokovic had his chance with only his third break point of the match. Federer held with three service winners.
Moments later, while serving to stay in the set — and, essentially, the match— Djokovic gifted Federer a pair of break points by blasting an overhead long with much of the court open. He saved one, but Federer's overhead smash on the second gave the Swiss great the third set, and put him on the way to Wimbledon final No. 8.
The win improved Federer's semifinal record at the All England Club to 8-0. His only loss in the final came in 2008, when Rafael Nadal beat him 9-7 in the fifth set.
Federer earned the only break of the first set to take the lead, and Djokovic returned the favor in the second set to even the score.
The third set turned out to be the decisive one, and Djokovic fought to stay in it right from the start.
After holding easily, Federer earned a break point when Djokovic sent a forehand long. Although the top-ranked Serb saved it, and eventually held to 1-1, it was the beginning of the end.
The next three games went quickly and on serve, but Federer then earned a pair of break points in the sixth game. Djokovic again saved them, the first after a 24-stroke rally that ended with Federer's forehand going wide.
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