London, United Kingdom | AFP | Roger Federer stands just two wins away from a record eighth Wimbledon title but faces a perilous trip through the land of the giants if he is to become the tournament’s oldest champion.
The 35-year-old Swiss has defied time and logic to reach a 12th semi-final at the All England Club where he will face Tomas Berdych, the 2010 runner-up, on Friday.
If he gets past the Czech for the 19th time in 25 meetings, Federer will face either Sam Querrey or Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final.
The contrast between the 18-time Grand Slam title winner and the other three contenders could not be more stark.
Federer stands 6ft 1in (1.85m) and weighs in at 187lbs (85kg); Berdych is 6ft 5ins (1.95m) and 200 lbs (91kg).
Querrey and Cilic tower over him at 6ft 6ins (1.97m) and 210lbs (95kg) and 196lbs (89kg) respectively.
Federer, bidding to reach an 11th final at Wimbledon, is therefore aware of the physical threats posed by his rivals.
“All three guys are taller and stronger than I am,” said Federer.
“I’ve got to figure out a different way, carve my way through somehow with my slice and my spins, my consistency.
“Being the favourite or not the favourite doesn’t matter. These other guys are all big hitters. I feel like they will have their say in the outcome of the matches.
“They’ve got big serves, big forehands, they are big hitters.”
Federer has made the semi-finals without dropping a set and has been broken just three times.
He even managed to match Milos Raonic — who boasts the second fastest serve of the tournament at a blistering 142mph (228.5km/h) — with 11 aces in his quarter-final victory.
Federer is the second oldest semi-finalist after Ken Rosewall who finished runner-up in 1974 at the age of 39.
He is also the overwhelming favourite after ‘Big Four’ rivals Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic suffered injury-hit exits on Wednesday and Rafael Nadal lost in the last 16.
Federer is reaping the rewards of pruning his schedule with Wimbledon just his seventh event of 2017.
He skipped the 2016 and 2017 French Opens which were won by Djokovic and Nadal.