London (AFP) – Roger Federer staged a sensational Wimbledon escape act on Wednesday as the seven-time champion saved three match points and came from two sets down to clinch a semi-final clash with Milos Raonic.
Federer fought back from the brink in a Centre Court thriller as the world number three defeated Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic 6-7 (4/7), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-3 to reach a record-equalling 11th semi-final at the All England Club.
The 34-year-old also claimed a new record for Grand Slam match wins of 307 as he made a 40th semi-final at the majors.
Federer’s dramatic triumph was his 84th win at Wimbledon — taking him level with Jimmy Connors — and gave him a semi-final against Canadian sixth seed Raonic as he continues his pursuit of an 18th Grand Slam title and a record eighth All England Club crown.
“Marin is such a wonderful player and I knew I was in so much trouble in the third set and in the fourth,” said Federer.
“I just tried to stay in the match and hoped for his level to drop and get a bit lucky. That happened and obviously the breaker was crazy.
“My legs and back were there and serving was key, plus mentally this will give me a hell of a boost.”
Raonic enjoyed far more serene progress to his second Wimbledon semi-final as he ended Sam Querrey’s surprise run to the last eight with a 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 victory on Court One.
The 25-year-old will hope it is third time lucky after losing his previous two Grand Slam semi-finals.
– Blitzed –
Now coached by former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, Raonic blitzed American 28th seed Querrey, who had stunned defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round.
He hit 58 winners and served 13 aces and finally looks capable of fulfilling the potential that saw his ear-marked as a future star several years ago.
“There were some momentum shifts there. I’m glad I was able to get back on the right path after he won the third,” Raonic said.
“I was able to get things back on my terms. It’s a well deserved chance to be in the semi-finals.
“It’s exciting, but also humbling because you have to get the win. I hope to do better than last time.”
Federer has won nine of their 11 meetings, including in the last four at Wimbledon two years ago, but Raonic triumphed in their last encounter in Brisbane earlier this year.
It was Federer’s latest Wimbledon theatrics that had the All England Club abuzz as he came from two sets down to win for the 10th time in his glittering career.
Federer, who saved the three match points in the fourth set, fired 27 aces and 67 winners to avenge his semi-final loss to ninth seed Cilic in the semi-finals of the 2014 US Open.
In the process he became the oldest Wimbledon semi-finalist since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1974.
Later on Wednesday, 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray bids for his seventh All England Club semi-final when he faces French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
World number two Murray, beaten in the Australian and French Open finals this year, is looking to win his third major title and first since becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years.
In the other remaining quarter-final 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych takes on French 32nd seed Lucas Pouille.