Roger Federer back in a familiar spot


LONDON -- Youth has been the story of this Wimbledon fortnight.

It has been served again and again -- to the point that a certain 32-year-old father of four has been largely overlooked. An Australian teenager had the audacity to send Rafael Nadal home to the beach in Mallorca, and a pair of frothy, frisky 23-year-olds reached the semifinals.

But on Friday, Roger Federer won his sixth straight match at the All England Club and finds himself in another final, looking for his unprecedented eighth Wimbledon title. If they're going to name a show court after Andy Murray, maybe they should recast the tournament in his name: The Federer Championships.

The scoreline over Milos Raonic -- 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 -- was as tidy and clinical as the Swiss champion's game. It was over in 101 minutes. He'll meet No. 1 Novak Djokovic -- who earlier also beat an ascendant 23-year-old, Grigor Dimitrov -- in Sunday's final.

It was almost surprising to see a faint trickle of sweat on his face when he came off the court. Concentration, he said, was the critical component.

"I had to be very careful on my service games," Federer said. "And I was unbelievably effective. I look very concentrated, but I'm very happy to be in the final. I played some great tennis under pressure.

"I expect a lot of myself here."

When he won here in 2012, at the advanced age of 30, some wondered whether that was it -- if Federer's 17th Grand Slam singles title would be his last. Since then he had failed to reach even a major final, going 0-for-7. The second half of last year was particularly difficult, as Federer crashed out in the second round here and in the fourth at the US Open.

This year, he says, he is healthier, and the results have been encouraging. Federer now has 40 match wins, more than any of the other semifinalists. He has always been an all-court player but this particular tournament represents his best opportunity to add to his Grand Slam total. His window may be shrinking but, at the very least, he has another chance.

Federer is:

• The third-oldest Wimbledon finalist; ageless Australian Ken Rosewall did it at 35 and 39.

• The oldest Grand Slam finalist since 35-year-old Andre Agassi reached the 2005 US Open final.

• Into his mind-boggling 25th Grand Slam final for Federer, five more than the next-best total, which happens to belong to his Spanish nemesis, Nadal.

• A perfect 9-0 in Wimbledon semifinals.

More important, perhaps: Federer will regain the Swiss No. 1 status from Stan Wawrinka

He's done it by channeling his aggressive former self, urged forward by coach Stefan Edberg, who could volley with the best of them. Federer is serving and volleying more than he has in recent years but only about half as much as he did in his salad days. Against Raonic, he won 24 of 32 points at net, a spiffy 75 percent.

All credit to Raonic, who was playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal. The 23-year-old was trying to join compatriot Eugenie Bouchard, who was the first Canadian to advance to a Grand Slam final. Raonic entered the contest with 147 aces in five matches.

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