Roger Federer’s quest for an 18th Grand Slam trophy marched on in stunning fashion Wednesday when he came back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic, 6-7 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3, and reach the semifinals at Wimbledon.
Five-set matches are always gruelling and tense, but this one seemed a cut above the rest. For one thing, Federer hasn’t been great when he loses the first two sets. Especially not lately:
Cilic, meanwhile, was previously 51-0 all-time in majors when winning the first two sets. After falling behind 2-0, it looked like Federer had a insurmountable task in front of him.
The fourth set was especially stunning. Cilic saw two match points on Federer’s serve, but couldn’t convert and the set went to a tiebreaker. There, Federer raced out to an early lead, in part because of a key — and agonizingly close — challenge:
But Cilic wouldn’t go away, and clawed back to see yet another match point. Federer fought it off, and managed to pull out the tiebreaker, 11-9.
The points throughout the tiebreaker were excellent:
After winning the tiebreaker, the momentum was fully in Federer’s corner and the crowd was forcefully behind him. In the fifth set, he came back from 0-40 on his serve to move to 4-3, quickly broke Cilic, and served it out in dominant fashion to complete the comeback:
“I knew I was in so much trouble in the third, and then again in the fourth,” Federer said afterward. “I’m really, really pleased and just ecstatic I was able to come through somehow.”
In the semifinal, Federer faces a game Milos Raonic. If his match against Cilic was any indication, that semifinal will be chock full of more thrilling moments.
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