Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Federer, Murray survive

WIMBLEDON, England — For fans in Centre Court at Wimbledon on Wednesday, it was ecstasy followed by agony.

Around 4 p.m., the crowd was roaring as longtime fan-favorite Roger Federer won an electrifying tiebreaker to force a fifth set after trailing Marin Cilic two sets to none in their quarterfinal match.

About four hours later, the atmosphere was far more tense as Andy Murray tossed his racket and glumly walked to his chair to prepare for a fifth set after blowing his 2-0 lead over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But after more than seven hours of roller-coaster tennis, the Centre Court crowd could breathe easy with Federer and Murray, Wimbledon's favorite sons, safely in the semifinals.

Federer conjured a vintage performance, rallying to win, 6-7 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), 6-3. He set the record for Grand Slam singles victories with his 307th and tied Jimmy Connors for most Wimbledon wins (84).

The second-seeded Murray prevailed 7-6 (12-10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 and plays No. 10 Tomas Berdych in Friday's semifinals. Federer, the No. 3 seed, faces sixth-seeded Milos Raonic.

"The crowd were unbelievable," Murray said. "They got two pretty good matches, as well, I think."

For the first two sets, Cilic bombarded Federer, hitting 12 aces among 23 winners and losing five points on his first serve.

At 3-3 in the third set, it seemed all but over for Federer. He was down 0-40, facing three break points. He saved them all, then broke Cilic in the next game when Cilic double faulted.

Suddenly, Federer was serving for the set. He started the game with an ace and ended it with a backhand winner.

Federer lived dangerously in the fourth set. Cilic had two break points at 1-2 and faced a second serve on each but did not get either return in play.

Federer saved match points when serving at 4-5 and at 5-6.

"I remember just being in trouble the whole time," he said. "At one point, you're used to it. It's not like, 'Oh, my God, all of a sudden there's a match point, all of a sudden there's a break point to save.' It just was continuous."

That best described the dramatic fourth-set tiebreaker. With Cilic serving at 3-4, Federer challenged a return that was called long. The video review found it to be in by a sliver, giving Federer a 5-3 lead and two serves on his racket.

He gained two set points at 6-4 and blew the first with a tight forehand that went long. Cilic hit an ace to save the second. Cilic got a third match point at 7-6 and again faced a second serve from Federer. But he dumped the return into the net. Federer needed three more set points to put it away.

Federer did not face a break point in the fifth set.

Murray and Tsonga played an exhilarating tiebreaker of their own in the first set, with two aces and 10 winners.

Murray seemed to seize control in a second-set rout, but Tsonga collected nine aces among 29 winners in the third and fourth sets. To force a fifth, Tsonga saved three break points at 3-4 and broke Murray in the next game with back-to-back winners down the line.

Murray saved a break point in the first game of the fifth set, and after the crucial hold, he walked off the court for the changeover, waving a finger at his box and appearing to say, "No way I'm losing this match."

Raonic beat No. 28 Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Querrey had knocked out No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round but came up short in his bid to become the first American to make it to a Grand Slam semifinal since Andy Roddick reached the final four at Wimbledon in 2009. Berdych eliminated No. 32 Lucas Pouille 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-2.

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