Federer gears up for battle with giants
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, who faces Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals tonight, has become the hot favourite after defending champion Andy Murray and second seed Novak Djokovic both crashed out in the last eight due to injuries.
If Federer gets past 11th seed Berdych for the 19th time in 25 meetings, he will face either Sam Querrey or Marin Cilic in Sunday's final.
The contrast between the 18-time Grand Slam winner and the other three semi-finalists could not be more stark.
Federer stands at 1.85m tall and weighs 85kg. Berdych is 1.95m tall and weighs 91kg.
Both Querrey and Cilic tower over the Swiss master at 1.97m and tip the scales at 95kg and 89kg, respectively.
Said Federer: "All three guys are taller and stronger than I am.
"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 doesn't matter. These other guys are all 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 228.5kmh - with 11 aces in his quarter-final victory.
Berdych, 31, is through to the semi-finals after seeing Djokovic retire with a right elbow injury in their quarter-final yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The Serb's withdrawal, which came just hours after an injury-plagued Murray lost to Querrey, prompted Federer to express concern for his stricken rivals.
After losing to Raonic in last year's Wimbledon semi-finals, Federer shut down his season to rest a knee injury which had required surgery early last year.
He came back in January this year, won the Australian Open for his 18th Slam, added the Indian Wells-Miami Masters double before hibernating through the clay-court season, as he did last year.
Murray and Djokovic have both turned 30, and Federer had some sage advice.
He said: "Once you hit 30, you've got to look back and think: 'How much tennis have I played? How much rest did I give my body over the years? How much training have I done?'
"Sometimes, maybe the body and the mind do need a rest."
Federer, who is reaping the rewards of pruning his schedule - Wimbledon is only his seventh event of the year, added: "I'm playing very well. I'm rested. I'm fresh. I'm confident."
The other semi-final pits Querrey, who has reached a maiden semi-final at the Majors on his 42nd attempt, against Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion. Seventh seed Cilic holds a 4-0 record in head-to-head meetings over 24th seed Querrey.- WIRE SERVICES