Roger Federer admits clashes with Novak Djokovic can be "brutal" for the loser given how well matched the two players are, but he is relishing Sunday's Wimbledon final.

Eight-time All England Club champion Federer's reward for a thrilling four-set victory over Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals is a meeting with another fellow great in Djokovic, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut.

The two are certainly no strangers to one another, playing 47 times on the ATP Tour with Djokovic edging the overall record on 25 wins.

The world number one has also won their past two contests at Wimbledon and Federer expects fine margins to decide a hard-fought affair.

"It's the same as going into a Rafa match," the Swiss said. "I think the moment you've played somebody probably more than 15 times, especially in recent years also a few times, there's not that much more left out there.

"When you know where the players go when it really matters, how much can you still surprise somebody?

"At the end of the day, it comes very much down to who's better on the day, who's in a better mental place, who's got more energy left, who's tougher when it really comes to the crunch.

"In tennis, there's always somebody who's going to be a little bit better because there's no draws in our sport. It's always quite brutal sometimes.

"I don't want to say always the better player wins, but sometimes it can be tough. Like [against Nadal], he could have broken in that last game somehow and we could still be playing. Who knows?

"I'm excited about the game against Novak. We've played each other so, so much. I don't mind that, I think it's more of a clear game plan.

"We had a great match against each other in Paris just recently [Djokovic won 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 7-6 (7-3)]. I hope we can back it up from there."

Federer's preparation for the showpiece will be limited, but he is confident he is well set to continue his fine form at Wimbledon.

"I don't have much energy to go train very much right now," he said. "Honestly, it's about recovery, hitting some balls [on Saturday], warming up the next day. But it's more in the tactics.

"I don't think there's much I need to do in terms of practice. This is like a school: the day of the test you're not going to read however many books that day. You don't have the time anyhow.

"It's quite clear the work was done way before. I think that's why I was able to produce a good result [against Nadal].

"It's been a rock-solid year from me, winning in Halle. The stars are aligned right now. From that standpoint, I can go into that match very confident."

Roberto Bautista Agut might return to Wimbledon on his stag party after losing to Novak Djokovic and one young spectator raised eyebrows as he read a book rather than watch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal do battle.

Bautista Agut was due in Ibiza with a half a dozen friends this week, but they left the party island to watch him at the All England Club after he reached the semi-finals.

Defending champion Djokovic failed to read the script, knocking the Spaniard out in four sets on Centre Court.

There were gasps throughout the grounds as Federer and Nadal served up another classic, which the Swiss legend won to set up a showdown with Djokovic, but it seemed not everyone was totally captivated.

Catch up on what was happening at the grass-court grand slam on Friday.

BAUTISTA AGUT TO MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME

Bautista Agut was happy to miss out on a few days of celebration with his friends, but is ready to let his hair down over the weekend. And his time at Wimbledon may not be over.

"Now I think I deserve some vacations. We will have some time off after that," he said.

Asked about the Ibiza trip, he revealed: "We had everything reserved from Thursday or Wednesday until Sunday. They all knew before it was a small chance I would be here, me playing in the quarter-finals. Well, it was nice.

"I think they really had a good plan. They spent Wednesday in Ibiza. They came to watch a good match, the semi-final of Wimbledon. Maybe tomorrow we come back."

 

NOT ALL EYES ON CHAPTER 40 OF FEDERER-NADAL

It seemed impossible to take your eyes off a captivating 40th battle between Federer and Nadal.

Two of the all-time greats struck 83 winners between them, drawing roars of approval from a packed Centre Court crowd and thousands around the grounds.

Tickets were like gold dust for a pulsating contest that will live long in the memory, yet one young boy in the crowd was spotted reading a book rather than being transfixed on the action.

Here is hoping he did not miss too much of chapter 40 of their great rivalry.

COINS READY FOR LIFT-OFF

The coins used for the toss ahead of the finals will definitely not be scaling new heights.

NASA astronaut Drew Feustal took the pair of bespoke gold coins to space last year after All England Tennis Club chairman Philip Brook came up with the idea at the 2017 championships.

They travelled to the International Space Station aboard Mission 56 in a journey that will be featured in a new one-minute film called "The Coin Toss."

It will be the stars who are crowned Wimbledon champions who are feeling out of this world this weekend.

Roger Federer says his semi-final win over Rafael Nadal on Friday "had everything" and will go down as one of his favourite Wimbledon memories but he was glad when it was over.

Federer won another epic battle with his old foe 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 at the All England Club to set up a showdown with Novak Djokovic.

The Swiss legend produced a majestic performance on Centre Court 11 years after he lost to Nadal in a classic final the last time they met in the grass-court grand slam.

Federer has won eight titles at SW19 and ranks his win over Nadal as one of the best experiences he has had in the tournament.

Asked where it would rate among his displays in south-west London, Federer said: "Obviously extremely high. It's always very, very cool to play against Rafa here, especially because we haven't played in so long.

"It lived up to the hype, especially from coming out of the gates, we were both playing very well. Then the climax at the end with the crazy last game, some tough rallies there.

"It had everything at the end, which was great, I guess. I'm just relieved it's all over at this point.

"But it's definitely, definitely going to go down as one of my favourite matches to look back at, again, because it's Rafa, it's at Wimbledon, the crowds were into it, great weather.

"I felt like I played good throughout the four sets. I can be very happy."

Federer was in no mood to celebrate, though, with such a huge match to come on Sunday.

"Age kicks in. I know it's not over yet. There's no point to start partying tonight or get too emotional, too happy about it, even though I am extremely happy," he said.

"I think I can with experience really separate the two. If it was the end of the tournament, it would be very different right now. I'd be speaking very different, feeling very different. There is, unfortunately or fortunately, one more.

"It's great on many levels. But I've got to put my head down and stay focused, you know."

Rafael Nadal expressed his sadness after he was beaten by Roger Federer in a classic Wimbledon semi-final but acknowledged his rival deserved to win.

Federer will face Novak Djokovic in his 12th final at the All England Club following a 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory on a glorious Friday.

Nadal beat the 20-time grand slam champion in an epic final the last time they met at SW19 in 2008, but was unable to pull off a repeat on Centre Court 11 years later.

The Spaniard was left to rue a chance to win the grass-court major for only the third time, but doffed his cap to the imperious Swiss master.  

"I'm sad for the loss because for me it was another opportunity," said the 18-time grand slam winner.

"But at the same time I created another opportunity to be in another final of a grand slam. I just have to accept that was not my day. I played a great event. I take this in a positive way.

"At the same time, today is sad because for me I know chances are not forever. Last year I had chances here, I had another one, and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here.

"It was a tough one. He played a little bit better than me, I think. Probably I didn't play as good as I did in the previous rounds, and he played well. So he deserves it. Congratulations to him."

Novak Djokovic said he has had "enough support" from the Wimbledon crowd over the years and was not interested in complaining about it following his semi-final victory on Friday.

Djokovic - a four-time winner at the All England Club - beat Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 to book his spot in a sixth Wimbledon decider.

The Serbian appeared a little flustered at times as his opponent regularly enjoyed significant vocal support from the crowd.

And a repeat is likely on Sunday as Djokovic battles SW19 favourite Roger Federer in a much-anticipated final.

Asked if he felt "a lack of love and respect" from the Centre Court crowd, Djokovic responded: "No, I mean, look, I focused on what I need to do.

"At times they wanted him to come back to the match, maybe take a lead because he was an underdog in the match. I understand that.

"But I had enough support here over the years, so I don't complain."

Quizzed further about his frustration, the 32-year-old said: "It's nothing unusual. You go through these kinds of emotional moments, especially in big matches like this, all the time.

"I mean, at least on my side. Sometimes I show my emotions, sometimes I don't. It's nothing really in particular.

"There's always something that can take you out of the comfort zone. Sometimes you get frustrated. It's important to bounce back really quickly."

Speaking specifically on the challenge Federer would bring, Djokovic added: "We all know how good he is anywhere, but especially here. This surface complements his game very much.

"He loves to play very fast. Takes away the time from his opponent. Just doesn't give you any same looks. He just rushes you to everything.

"I've played with Roger in some epic finals here a couple years in a row, so I know what to expect."

Federer is an eight-time Wimbledon champion but both finals he has played against Djokovic at the famous venue, he has lost. Federer's only win against Djokovic at Wimbledon came in 2012, when he won a semi-final in four sets.

There was a shake of the head from Roger Federer as he walked off Centre Court with roars reverberating around Wimbledon following another titanic tussle with Rafael Nadal.

Eleven years after he was beaten by Nadal in a classic final when they last met at SW19, it was the Swiss maestro who came out on top in the 40th edition of one of the great rivalries.

A buzz of anticipation over another epic showdown could be felt around the All England Club from the moment two legends sealed their passage into the semi-finals.

The thousands who packed into one of the most famous arenas on the planet perched on the edge of their seats as they witnessed the majestic Federer triumph 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4, setting up a clash with Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

For three hours and two minutes those fortunate to have a ticket were mesmerised, looking on in disbelief at an astonishing exhibition between two icons who have 38 grand slam titles between them.

There were 51 winners unleashed from the racket of Federer, the 20-time major champion, and 32 from Spaniard Nadal just over a month after he blew his old foe away in the wind at the same stage of the French Open.

The two sporting heavyweights were given a rapturous ovation as they strode out with a spring in their step in the sun, but you could have heard a pin drop when a mouthwatering contest got under way.

At the same auditorium where a sleeveless top revealed his bulging muscles and locks flowed to the bottom of his neck whey they locked horns in 2008, the intense Nadal still resembled a caged tiger ready to hunt his prey.

Federer, with a steely focus in his eyes, was like a coiled spring a month before he turns 38, coming forward at every opportunity as they traded punches in a tight first set.

It was first blood Federer after he twice came from a mini-break down to win a tense tie-break, but Nadal yanked up his sweat bands and barely put a foot wrong as he charged around the court at blistering speed to level a gripping match.

There would have been concerns for Federer fans when he skewed a forehand high into the crowd, yet he was calmness personified in the third, racing across the turf and aggressively moving a set away from another final.

Federer won a 25-shot rally in that third set and showed no signs of fatigue in the fourth, swatting away a majestic inside-out cross-court forehand winner before breaking to lead 2-1.

A rattled Nadal bellowed in the direction of his box as a calm Federer continued to draw gasps from the stands and way beyond in another masterclass.

Yet Nadal was never going to go down without a fight and many rose to their feet when he fizzed a thunderous backhand beyond Federer before he had a chance to react.

Nadal saved four match points in style, but Federer lifted his arms into the blue sky on a glorious Friday evening after reaching a 12th Wimbledon final.

He was among the majority who were shaking their head at the latest incredible show he and Nadal had served up. 

Roger Federer exacted a measure of Wimbledon revenge over his great rival Rafael Nadal in Friday's semi-final to set up a showdown with defending champion Novak Djokovic in this year's showpiece.

Eleven years ago Nadal came out on top in a final considered one of the finest matches ever played - one that spanned five sets and almost five hours - but in their first Wimbledon meeting since, it was Federer who emerged victorious 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer, who turns 38 next month, took a first-set tie-break and though he lost his way as Nadal levelled up the contest, it was the second seed who stepped up a gear on his favourite surface.

Clay-court king Nadal had won the last meeting between these two in straight sets in this year's French Open semi-final, but grass is more Federer's domain, and he broke the Spaniard early in both the third and fourth sets before closing out a brilliant victory in just over three hours.

There was little to separate the pair early on, with just five points dropped on serve across the opening seven games.

Federer brought up the first break point in the next game but Nadal won a 21-shot rally and the two headed for a breaker, with the Swiss coming from 3-2 behind and forging ahead with a crunching forehand winner.

At 1-1 in the second set, Federer had two break opportunities but could seize neither and he appeared to lose his way when his opponent reeled off five games in a row, the 20-time grand slam champion at one point wildly miscuing a shot at the net into the crowd to be broken for a second time in a row.

But he was back on song in the next, brilliantly outduelling Nadal at the net and then fending off three break points to go 4-1 up, bringing up set point with a classic backhand down the line and then holding to love.

Nadal started the fourth set with a double fault and lost his second service game, Federer appearing to have an extra spring in his step as he manoeuvred his feet to dispatch a brilliant forehand winner.

Two match points on the Nadal serve came and went, and the Spaniard netted a backhand with a chance to make it 5-5, but Federer eventually got the job done at the fifth time of asking and advanced to a 12th Wimbledon final where he will meet Djokovic, who beat the Swiss in both 2014 and 2015.

Novak Djokovic said it felt like "a dream come true" to reach another Wimbledon final.

The Serbian top seed overcame Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets on Centre Court on Friday.

His 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 success left Djokovic thrilled, and he headed off to watch as much of the keenly anticipated clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as he could manage.

Four-time champion Djokovic said: "This has been the dream tournament for me when I was a child, so to be in another final is a dream come true regardless of the history and the many finals that I've played in grand slams.

"Playing finals at Wimbledon is something different, so I'll definitely enjoy that experience."

Djokovic spent long stretches of the match chuntering to himself and at times taking on the crowd, suspecting they favoured Bautista Agut. Eventually he channelled his frustrations in a positive way, gaining control of a match that had become finely balanced.

"I had to dig deeper," Djokovic said, after booking a sixth visit to the final. "It's semi-finals and Roberto was playing his first semi-finals in a grand slam, but regardless of that he was not really overwhelmed with the stadium and the occasion. He played really well.

"In the first set he was still probably managing his nerves and made some uncharacteristic unforced errors, but later on at the beginning of the second he started to establish himself.

"He started to play better and he placed his serves really, really nicely to open up the points. I got a bit tight and it was a very close opening five or six games of the third set.

"That's where the match really could have gone different ways and I'm glad it went my way."

Asked about his plans for the rest of Friday, with Federer and Nadal following Djokovic onto court, he added: "Of course I will watch it. I'm a fan of that match-up as well. Federer-Nadal is one of the most epic rivalries of all-time."

Novak Djokovic won through to his sixth Wimbledon final and will chase a fifth title on Sunday after grinding out victory against Roberto Bautista Agut.

The 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 success for Serbian top seed Djokovic was not always pretty, and his frustration boiled over several times.

There were moments when Djokovic seemed to believe he was in a bearpit of an arena, rather than the genteel surroundings of Centre Court in leafy south-west London.

He took on the crowd for showing support for Bautista Agut, when the Spanish 23rd seed produced a spirited fightback to take the second set, and may have won few friends.

Yet this was all about getting another job done for Djokovic, another step on a well-trodden path towards glory.

It has been Djokovic, and not Andy Murray, not Roger Federer and certainly not Rafael Nadal, who has been the dominant force in the men's singles at Wimbledon over the last decade.

Titles in 2011, 2014, 2015 and last year have helped the 32-year-old reach a haul of 15 grand slams, with more surely to come. He may one day become the most prolific slam winner.

Bautista Agut was playing his first grand slam semi-final at the age of 31 in a week when he was meant to be on his own stag party in Ibiza. He was shaky in the early moments and dropped serve twice in the opening set.

The inevitable question was whether this would remain a one-sided contest, as disappointing as the two women's semi-finals on Thursday, or whether Bautista Agut might find a response.

Watched from the Royal Box by Rod Laver and Alex Ferguson, the initially imperturbable Djokovic suddenly hit a dip and his opponent began to score with winners.

One such shot, a tremendous inside-out forehand, whistled past Djokovic's backhand to earn a break.

Djokovic became ragged, and his mood darkened when Bautista Agut levelled the match with a forehand off the netcord, the ball dropping dead on the world number one's side.

Seemingly riled by the British crowd siding with Bautista Agut, rather than the time-and-again Wimbledon champion in their midst, Djokovic threw up his arms in an invitation for them to get behind him instead.

The rallies became longer, Djokovic ready to test Bautista Agut's mental and physical stamina. And when Bautista Agut held his first service game of the third set, Djokovic swung his racket towards the grass in exasperation.

Eventually he managed to channel his aggression sensibly and broke for 4-2 by taking command of the net on successive points, roaring a battle cry when he smashed away to seize the momentum.

Djokovic pointed to his ear, another message to the crowd, when he lashed a backhand down the line to win a remarkable 45-shot point and save break point in his next service game.

He took the set, missed out on three break points at the start of the fourth but struck in Bautista Agut's next service game, again in the fifth game, and it was all downhill from there.

This was seen by many as the aperitif for the second semi-final between Federer and Nadal. Djokovic may end up being the headline act again come Sunday evening.

John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC, observed Djokovic had managed to turn his perception of crowd bias into a positive.

"He used it to energise himself and you've got to love that," McEnroe said.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Novak Djokovic [1] bt Roberto Bautista Agut [23] 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 42/29
Bautista Agut – 34/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 9/3
Bautista Agut – 5/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 5/8
Bautista Agut – 1/5

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Djokovic – 64
Bautista Agut – 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Djokovic – 77/51
Bautista Agut – 68/49

TOTAL POINTS
Djokovic – 119
Bautista Agut - 102

Simona Halep kept herself in the frame for a first Wimbledon title and England's cricketers created an increased buzz in SW19 on Thursday.

Halep potted a semi-final win against Elina Svitolina before being asked about her interest in snooker given three-time world champion Mark Selby is one of only two people she follows on Twitter.

David Beckham was among the famous faces in the Royal Box to see Halep and Serena Williams seal their places in the women's singles final.

There was also excitement at the All England Club for a major sporting showdown taking place in Birmingham, where England beat Australia to reach the Cricket World Cup final.

Catch up on what was happening around the grounds on day 10 of the grass-court grand slam.

 

POCKET ROCKET HALEP CLEARS UP SELBY FOLLOW

Halep has huge Twitter support but chooses those she follows carefully, selecting only her former coach Darren Cahill and Leicester cueman Selby.

Romania's 2018 French Open champion might not know the intricacies of snooker, but she is a fan of the player nicknamed 'The Jester'.

"I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him." Halep said.

"He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him."

 

AUSTRALIA SOS SIGNALS CREATE A RACKET

Crowds gathered to watch a band strike up with numbers such as Abba's SOS as Pimm's and champagne flowed late in the morning.

The distress signals from Australia players at Edgbaston also went down well as word reached Wimbledon that England were on course to reach the World Cup final.

Australia's early collapse in their semi-final was being discussed on the walk-up towards the All England Club grounds and as the tennis was taking place.

While some were clearly as confused by the cricket as Halep is by snooker, the majority were looking forward to another huge final in London this weekend after England set up a clash with New Zealand at Lord's.

 

BECKS AND BRANSON WATCH ON

Beckham is a Wimbledon regular and all eyes were on the former England football captain when he rocked up in dapper attire.

As Halep and Williams made statements on the main showcourt, Beckham made one of his own with a gold jacket, blue and white striped shirt and a snazzy tie.

Sir Richard Branson sat just along from Beckham to witness Halep and Williams go about their business in ruthless fashion.

 

AMERICAN ROGER FAN FED UP

While most people know what is in store well before they arrive at Wimbledon, there can be the odd one unsure what action will be served up.

An American visitor was heard asking "What time is Federer on?" and appeared bemused when informed he faces Rafael Nadal on Friday.

Eleven years on from their last classic encounter at Wimbledon, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal declared "we are still here" as they prepare to do battle for a 40th time.

Rivals of two of the all-time greats certainly need no reminder of that ahead of their semi-final on Friday.

With 38 grand slam titles between them, Federer and Nadal have stood the test of time and they are still going strong.

The legendary duo could only have dreamed of what they would go on to achieve when they first faced each other in Miami way back in 2004.

Fast forward 15 years, Centre Court will be packed and millions will tune in all over the world for another mouthwatering episode of a captivating sporting rivalry.

Nadal won an epic 2008 final 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 the last time they faced each other on the hallowed grass at SW19 and also came out on top in a last-four showdown en route to a 12th French Open title last month.

The Spaniard is expecting another almighty tussle with an old foe who secured a record 100th singles win at the All England Club at Kei Nishikori's expense on Wednesday.

"I expect to play against probably the best player in history on this surface and know that I have to play my best if I want to have chances to try to be in that final." Nadal, 33, said.

"I had a lot of defeats [against Federer]. I had a lot of victories. The relationship never changed, always big respect, a good friendship. That will probably not change if I win or if I lose.

"I'm excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to again be in that round against him. The opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here."

The mutual appreciation between the duo was clear again when Federer spoke of the challenge he faces. 

He said: "Rafa has improved so much over the years on this surface. He's playing very different than he used to. We haven't played each other in a long, long time on this surface.

"He's serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving, how much faster he finishes points.

"It's impressive to see how healthy he's stayed. We're still here so it's nice to play each other again."

Rafael Nadal booked his place at the ATP Finals for a record 15th straight season with his quarter-final win over Sam Querrey at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

French Open champion Nadal triumphed 7-5 6-2 6-2 on No.1 Court to become the first player to earn a spot at the end-of-season event at the O2 Arena in London.

The 33-year-old, whose other title this season came at the Internazionali d'Italia, takes a 17-match winning run into a tantalising semi-final against eight-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer.

Nadal has never won the Finals, his best performances coming when he finished as the runner-up in 2010 and 2013.

He has only completed seven editions of the tournament, having withdrawn during the 2017 event due to a knee problem and opted out on six occasions – ankle and abdominal issues kept him out last year.

Novak Djokovic faces Roberto Bautista Agut in the other last-four clash and victory for the world number one would see him join Nadal in guaranteeing a place in the Finals.

Roberto Bautista Agut will take centre stage at Wimbledon rather than at his bachelor party in Ibiza after reaching his first grand slam semi-final.

The Spaniard was due to be in the party island instead of facing Guido Pella on Wednesday but was in the mood to celebrate after breaking new ground with a 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory.

Bautista Agut is set to provide the entertainment for his friends at the All England Club when he faces defending champion Novak Djokovic on Friday.

Serena Williams and Andy Murray were in great spirits despite crashing out of the mixed doubles, while Jon Rahm was among the famous faces in the crowd at SW19.

Catch up with the action on a ninth day of the grass-court major, which saw Roger Federer claim a record 100th singles win to set up another showdown with Rafael Nadal.

LONDON CALLING RBA's PARTY-GOING PALS

Bautista should probably have been sitting in the sun sipping a cold drink with his friends rather than battling it out with Pella on No.1 Court.

The 23rd seed was more than happy to change his plans, though, and half a dozen of his friends will be bound for London to soak up the biggest match of his life.

He said: "I had planned to be in Ibiza right now. We had everything organised already. My friends, six of them, are all there. It feels better to be here in London."

Asked if his friends will come to watch him play the world number one, he replied: "I think so. I think they will fly on Friday."

 

I DIDN'T SAY SERENA HAD A BAD MOUTH - MURRAY 

Williams and Murray's 'Murena' quest for mixed doubles glory was ended by top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar.

The dream team still had some entertainment in store when they faced the media, although Murray denied Williams had been guilty of using bad language after stating on Tuesday that he could not repeat some of the things his playing partner said.

Asked about the 23-time grand slam winner's use of expletives, he said "Did I say that? I don't think I said that."

The journalist replied: "You said you were sharing some jokes but you couldn't repeat them." To which a smiling Murray responded: "That's different. That's how you interpreted it. I didn't say she had a bad mouth."

 

RAHM GETTING IN MAJOR SWING

Jon Rahm swapped his golf clubs for the All England Club just eight days before he tees off in The Open.

The Spaniard was easy to spot among the great and good in the Royal Box, sporting a black shirt with one stars on and a spotted bright blue tie.

Rahm won the Irish Open last weekend and he will also be treated like royalty in his homeland if he lifts the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush a week on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal is excited by the "unique situation" of renewing a Wimbledon rivalry with Roger Federer, 11 years after their last meeting at SW19.

Not since their classic encounter in the 2008 final, when the Spaniard triumphed in five gruelling sets to win his first Wimbledon title, have Nadal and long-term foe Federer gone head to head at the slam.

Nadal outclassed Sam Querrey on Wednesday to set up a last-four showdown with Federer, who overcame Kei Nishikori for a 100th match win at Wimbledon.

And Nadal, who defeated Federer at the same stage of the French Open last month, appreciates opportunities to face the Swiss great on these sort of occasions are particularly special in the twilight of their careers.

"To play against Roger always is a unique situation. I'm excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years. It means a lot for me and probably for him, too," Nadal said.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to again play in that round against him. I always say the same, the opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here.

"The last two months have been very positive for me personally, probably for Roger, too, because he played good [to reach the] semi-finals at Roland Garros. He had the title in Halle. He's now in the semi-finals here again.

"That makes us keep playing because we still feel that we have chances to compete for the most important things. That's what really make us keep playing with this intensity."

Asked if his straight-sets victory over Federer at Roland Garros can aid his cause on Centre Court when they play on Friday, Nadal replied: "It's difficult to say yes or no.

"Probably it's better to have that victory than have defeat, of course. But on the other hand, it's a completely different situation."

Nadal's victory over Federer in 2008 was the third in a trilogy of consecutive finals played between the greats at Wimbledon.

Asked about his memories of those encounters, Nadal said: "We played a lot of good matches. Here in this tournament we played especially two great matches, 2007 and 2008.

"Personally 2008 was a little bit more emotional for me. But I appreciate the fact that I have been part of the 2007 match, too. Then we played a lot of matches all around [the world]. Only in New York we didn't play. That's the only bad news."

Roger Federer became the first man in the open era to win 100 singles matches at a grand slam when he battled past Kei Nishikori to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The Swiss great lost in the opening round on his first two attempts at main-draw success at SW19 before coming good in style, landing five titles in a row from 2003 to 2007.

Further trophy triumphs followed in 2009, 2012 and 2017, seeing him go past Pete Sampras to become the most prolific winner of the men's singles at the championships.

After bringing up a century of wins, we look at five of Federer's most memorable triumphs at the All England Club.

 

2001: SENDING PETE PACKING

Result: Federer beat Pete Sampras (fourth round) - 7-6 (9-7) 5-7 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5

Anyone looking at the transitions between tennis eras would see this result as a pivotal moment between the reigns of Pistol Pete and King Roger. Sampras won his seventh Wimbledon title in 2000, but in a marathon clash 12 months later he came unstuck against the emerging Swiss. Sampras had won the four previous editions of the men’s singles at Wimbledon but he would never dominate again at the All England Club. Federer lost in the quarter-finals to Tim Henman, who would then famously be beaten in the last four by eventual champion Goran Ivanisevic. Federer eventually got his hands on the trophy in 2003 and would go on to overhaul Sampras’ record.

Fed said: "Sometimes it was weird. I looked on the other side of the net, I saw him. Sometimes I was like, it's just true that this is happening now, that I'm playing against him. But then it just goes away, this feeling. You think about your serve, where you're going to go, then it's like playing against maybe some other player, you know. But obviously it was something special for me to play Pete."

 

2007: FIVE IN A ROW

Result: Federer beat Rafael Nadal (final) - 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-2

The rivalry between Federer and Nadal was blossoming, and this was the second successive year they had contested the Wimbledon final. What was apparent was how much closer Nadal was coming to Federer's level on grass, having already more than gained his measure on clay. Federer won this time, taking a captivating to-and-fro contest that lasted three hours and 45 minutes. It gave him a fifth successive Wimbledon title, matching the tournament's open era record set by Bjorn Borg, who watched from the Royal Box. A year later, Nadal would take his revenge in Wimbledon's greatest men's final, another five-setter.

Fed said: "I haven't lost many best-of-five-set matches lately. I knew that was a big occasion, maybe the biggest occasion of my life so far on a big stage. I was very happy to come through as the stronger."

 

2009: RODDICK ROCKED

Result: Federer beat Andy Roddick (final) - 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14

Was this vintage Federer? Certainly not. He could not find a way through on the Roddick serve until the match's denouement, when the American cracked. But what a startling match it proved to be, with Roddick playing as well as he ever would at Wimbledon yet still finding his best was not enough to master the master. A third final defeat to Federer would be his last grand slam title match, but Roddick came so close, despairingly so as the marathon fifth set became unbearably tense, that it was impossible not to sympathise. For Federer, it was a record-breaking 15th grand slam win, beating Sampras' haul.

Fed said: "It was difficult, because I thought Andy played great. It was frustrating at times because I couldn't break Andy until the very, very end. So the satisfaction is maybe bigger this time around to come through, because I couldn't control the match at all."

 

2010: ROGER HOUDINI

Result: Federer beat Alejandro Falla (first round) - 5-7 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7/1) 6-0

Alejandro Falla's Wikipedia biography leads with his career highlights being victories over Nikolay Davydenko and Tommy Haas. It must torture the Colombian left-hander not to have Federer's name up there, after he went so close to stunning him in the first round at Wimbledon. Federer had beaten Falla for the loss of just three games in the second round six years earlier, but their second meeting in London was a different story, Falla racing to a two-set lead. Heads were shaking in disbelief around the grounds, and Falla had the match in his hands when he served at 5-4 in the fourth set. It slipped through his grasp, Federer with a great escape.

Fed said: "I wasn't able to read his serve. That really rattled me. So I had to look for that for a long time. Thank God I found it eventually. I definitely got lucky. But that's how it goes sometimes."

 

2012: KEEPING MURRAY WAITING

Result: Federer beat Andy Murray (final) - 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4

Murray was bidding to become Britain's first male grand slam singles winner since Fred Perry, and when he took the opening set it looked like a rare home win was in the offing. But Federer hushed the Scot's Saltire-waving fans with a stirring fightback under the Centre Court roof to land his record-tying seventh Wimbledon success. Murray was in tears but would take his revenge in the Olympic Games final at Wimbledon later the same year, denying Federer the singles gold he craved.

Fed said: "I know the occasion and how big it was for Andy and myself. I'm happy I got a victory today, but obviously it was very, very special. Today I'm sure he got another step closer to a grand slam title."

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