WIMBLEDON, England — For the first time since they played one of the most celebrated matches in tennis history, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face each other again at Wimbledon.
Their last match at the All England Club came in the 2008 final, with Nadal closing out a five-set victory in the gloaming. Friday’s match will be a semifinal, and there will be no need to worry about fading light.
Centre Court is now equipped with a retractable roof and lights.
Though the club has changed, Federer, Nadal and their remarkable rivalry endure.
Both were favored to win their quarterfinals on Wednesday, and both played well at the right times to close out dangerous opponents.
Federer finished first, coming back to defeat Kei Nishikori, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, on Centre Court. Nadal finished soon after on No. 1 Court, beating the big-serving American Sam Querrey, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s difficult to imagine to be again in that situation, but here we are,” Nadal said. “Just excited about the victory of today right now, but of course excited to play against Roger again here in Wimbledon after such a long time.”
It has been 11 years since they played at the All England Club, but it has been little more than a month since they renewed their rivalry on red clay in a windswept semifinal at the French Open.
Nadal won that match decisively, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
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Federer was asked which of their past matches might have relevance on Friday.
“Not so much the French Open I do believe,” he said. “It was so windy, as you know. It was just insane. I haven’t heard it was going to be the same in a couple of days, so I hope not, even though that would be funny again.”
Federer said the 2017 Australian Open final, which he won in five sets, could be a reference point, but he also said it was easy to get lured into overanalysis with so much past material available.
“Well, we have a lot of information on Rafa, and so does he about us,” Federer said. “You can either dive into tactics and all that stuff like mad for two days. Or you are just going to say, ‘You know what? It’s grass-court tennis, and I’m going to come out there and play attacking tennis, and if he can defend that, good. And if he can’t, well, that’s good for me.”
Federer has won a record eight singles titles at the All England Club, and on Wednesday he won his 100th match at Wimbledon.
At 37, he is the oldest man to get to the final four of a Grand Slam singles tournament since Jimmy Connors, who was 39 when he reached the semifinals of the United States Open in 1991.
Connors’s fiery run was a big surprise, and his last deep run at a major tournament. But what is perhaps most remarkable about Federer’s late-career success is how routine he has made it seem.
He is still seeded No. 2 at Wimbledon at this stage of his career, and though he started slowly on Wednesday, he soon hit cruising speed: flicking winners on the run and playing superbly when he attacked.
He won 25 of 31 points at the net against Nishikori, who has excellent passing shots. Nishikori defeated Federer in straight sets in round-robin play at last year’s ATP Finals in another part of London, but though he tried to adjust his own game plan, serving and volleying 14 times and acquiring a taste for risk, he could not make enough of the gambles pay off.
Federer is 100-12 in singles at Wimbledon, and though 100 is a memorable round number, he was hardly obsessing over it during the quarterfinal.
“It’s not like you’re, ‘I have to get my 100th, I have to get my 100th,’ every point,” he said. “I’m just trying to win the next point and the next game and eventually the match. When you throw your hands up in the air, you are not thinking, ‘100, 100, 100.’”
But he said he was happy to be reminded of it by a fan as he signed autographs after the victory, and 100 is one more marker of his ability to endure in a demanding game that was once dominated by younger champions.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, 32, also advanced to the semifinals, routing 21st-seeded David Goffin, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
Djokovic will face No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Friday. Bautista beat No. 26 Guido Pella of Argentina, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal at age 31. Bautista has beaten Djokovic twice this year, but never in a best-of-five-sets match.
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