Federer-Djokovic: eight-times champion expecting "brutal" final

Jude Law

Nadal went down 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continues on Sunday as the defending Wimbledon champion takes on the eight-time All England Club victor in the 2019 final.

Federer needed just two hours and 19 minutes to come through and set-up a final against Andy Murray which he also went on to win, capturing his seventh title at the tournament. "I thought the match was played at a very high level". "I hope my health will be a good companion, but I still need matches and practices", the 20-time grand slam champion said. He was managing his nerves in the first set but later on he established himself and started to play better.

He told the BBC, "I'm exhausted".

Nadal fended off a fourth match point with another sublime victor but Federer sealed it at the fifth time of asking - holding his arms aloft as Nadal fired a backhand long. "He's the defending champion and he has shown why". Nadal won that one 9-7 in a fifth set that ended after 9 p.m., as any trace of daylight disappeared, in what some consider the greatest tennis match in the sport's lengthy annals. "I'm just very relieved it's all over".

However, Federer said he won't be over-awed by the challenge as he chases a 21st major and Djokovic targets a 16th.

"I am sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity", said Nadal, who was also beaten in the semi-finals previous year by Djokovic.

Or maybe Djokovic will push his total to 16, just two behind Nadal and four away from Federer. "I had another one [this year], and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here".

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Novak Djokovic, who is the number one seed and the defending champion, beat Roberto Bautista Agut in his Wimbledon semi.

He broke early in the third set then held off a fierce Nadal counter-attack to restore his one-set lead.

After losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final, Nadal has never contested a title decider on Centre Court, suffering shock losses to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller, not to mention Nick Kyrgios.

Not since 2010, two years after his epic final triumph over Federer proved the king of clay had mastered grass, has the Spaniard been the last man standing at Wimbledon. He had two match points while Nadal was serving at 3-5, but the Spaniard, as he always seems to do, dug deep and managed to hold. The fact that Djokovic has already won the Australian Open this year and his dominance on centre court last year means that despite Federer's prowess and pedigree, he'll have to put up a real fight to put the brakes on Djokovic. There were tight ones and long rallies. The most recent of his eight trophies was won in 2017.

More importantly, the Serb beat Federer in the final here in 2014 and 2015.

"It's something that is going to be hard to see again, " Nadal acknowledged of their long road together.

"I didn't play well enough", said Nadal, who lost a five-set semifinal to Djokovic a year ago at Wimbledon. "This is like at school - on the day of the test you're not going to read, I don't know, how many books that day".

The second was a different story as Bautista Agut dialled back a little and found that he was able to out-duel the master.

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