LONDON (AP) – The match, and Roger Federer’s bid for a record eighth Wimbledon championship, essentially should have been over after a little more than 1½ hours Wednesday.
Already trailing two sets to none, he was down love-40 while serving at 3-all in the third.
Once that problem was solved, his quarterfinal against Marin Cilic really could have concluded 45 minutes later, when Federer faced a match point at 5-4 in the fourth. Or 10 minutes and two games later, when Cilic again was a point from winning. Or another 10 minutes after that, when Cilic held a third match point.
Through it all, Federer, a month shy of his 35th birthday, would not go away. And Cilic, who beat Federer in straight sets en route to the 2014 US Open title, could not close the deal. Saving that trio of match points, Federer eventually emerged with a don’t-look-away-or-you’ll-miss-something 6-7 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3 victory over Cilic to reach his 11th semifinal at the All England Club.
“I fought, I tried, I believed,” Federer said after his 10th career comeback from a two-set hole, equaling the most on record. “At the end, I got it done.”
Meanwhile, with his lead slipping away, Andy Murray needed a little something extra to keep him going in the fifth set.
He found it in the fans. And in himself.
The second-seeded Murray absorbed everything he could from the Centre Court faithful, using their screams and cheers to help him hold off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 and advance to the Wimbledon semifinals for the seventh time.
“That’s why it’s important to try to use the crowd, if you can, to your advantage, because they do make a difference,” said Murray, winner of six straight five-set matches. “In long matches, tough matches, even if it’s half a percent difference, it’s good.”