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Federer, Murray reach Wimbledon final

Saturday, July 07, 2012    

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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — For Roger Federer, it's Wimbledon final number eight.

For Andy Murray, it's number one — and the first for a British man since 1938.

Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, beat defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 yesterday under the closed roof at Centre Court to reach a modern-era record eighth final at the All England Club. He is now one victory from equalling Pete Sampras's record of seven titles.

"I have one more match to go. I'm aware of that," said the 30-year-old Federer, who is 6-1 in Wimbledon finals. "Still, it's always nice beating someone like Novak, who has done so well here last year, the last couple years."

The next challenge will come Sunday against Murray, who is the first British man to even reach the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin 74 years ago. Murray, also trying to become the British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the second semi-final.

If Federer does win Sunday in his 24th Grand Slam final, he would also take the number one ranking from Djokovic and equal Sampras's record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.

"There's obviously a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here, the all-time Grand Slam record, world number one," Federer said. "I'm also going into that match with some pressure, but I'm excited about it. That's what I play for."

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.

"It's hard to fire bullets the whole time, so you try to also find some range. If he tees off first, it's hard to defend obviously," said Federer, now 1-0 against Djokovic on grass. "It's just not as easy to take that many balls out and come up with amazing shots time and time again. That's why I kept on attacking."

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 the final.

"(I) had unfortunately a bad service game on 5-4, and obviously he uses his opportunities when they're presented," said Djokovic, who had reached the last four major finals. "So you have to be always consistent. I wasn't."

The win improved Federer's semi-final 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.

"I hope I can keep my nerves," said Federer, looking toward the final. "I'm sure I can. Then hopefully win the match. But we'll see about that."

William Renshaw and Arthur Gore also played in eight Wimbledon finals but that was when the defending champion received a bye into the following year's title match. That rule was changed in 1922. Renshaw won seven titles and Gore three.

Murray later played Tsonga under an open roof on Centre Court, and under intense pressure to succeed in front of the

British public.

"Big relief," Murray said. "I just got to try to keep it together for the final."

Only minutes after the match ended, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the victory "great news".

"I'll be watching the final on Sunday and like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray," Cameron said in a statement. "I wish him the best of luck."

Murray got off to a fast start, serving well and winning the first two sets easily. And after losing the second, he hung on in the fourth, breaking in the final game with a forehand return winner.

"At the beginning was tough because he played well," Tsonga said. "I mean, he didn't give me one chance, one chance to go to the net. He didn't miss one serve. He was really, really good."

The 25-year-old Murray was playing in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the fourth straight year. Now he made it to that elusive final, and on Sunday he'll be facing an opponent who beat him in straight sets in the 2008 US Open final and the 2010 Australian Open final.

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