Roger Federer set another monumental milestone in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday, recovering to beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-4 and becoming the first man to record a century of singles wins at any Grand Slam.
No 2 seed Federer in the first set was so poor that the eighth-seeded Nishikori might have felt the 37-year-old Swiss’s advancing years had finally caught up with him.
Yet the rest of the competition had enough of the eight-time champion’s sheer brilliance to make it a worthy occasion for him to become the Grand Slam 100 club’s sole male member.
The win of Federer raised the prospect that Wimbledon could once again play host to one of the biggest rivalries of the sport, provided Rafael Nadal overcomes the great-serving American Sam Querrey to tee up a fight in the semis against his old Swiss foe.
Since their titanic tussle in 2008 final, when Nadal outlasted Federer over five thrilling sets that ended in the late evening gloom, the duo has not met at the All England Club.
Top-seed Novak Djokovic recovered from an edgy beginning to produce a devastating display that crushed the spirit of 21st-seeded Belgian David Goffin on Wednesday in straight sets and sent the defending champion to the semifinals. Goffin will wonder what occurred after he looked the better player in the early stages and broke in the first set for a 4-3 lead.
He had lost 10 matches in a row half an hour later and as Djokovic came on to triumph 6-4 6-0 6-2 the game was effectively over.
The 32-year-old Serb was at his best as he soaked the early punches without panic and then imposed himself to such an extent in every aspect of the contest that Goffin, 28, was left flailing at Center Court.
Djokovic, who has lost only once in the past twelve months at a Grand Slam, is in his ninth Wimbledon semifinal — only Jimmy Connors and Federer have been in more — where he will face Spanish world No 22 Roberto Bautista Agut.
Having dropped one set and broken only five times in five matches, Djokovic entered the semis and was pleased with how the game finally unfolded on Wednesday.