Milos Raonic lost momentum and confidence in his shot-making after losing the second set tiebreak to Roger Federer. And when Federer went on to take the third set, it looked nailed-on that the 17-time Grand Slam champion would be in the final hunting an eighth Wimbledon title. However, Raonic showed he has a lot more about him than just a big serve, showing the ability to play the big points against the chief-big-point man to move into his first ever final at Wimbledon.
The match, which lasted three hours and 24 minutes, was comparatively low on action and excitement. Most of the points were short, with Raonic firing plenty of aces, while Federer never really found that top gear. All that mattered in the end, however, was that the score read 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in Raonic's favour, with Federer, as a result, losing his first Wimbledon semifinal.
The first set was about the one break, picked up early by Raonic, in the fourth game. Once that break was locked, there was little doubt about who was going to win the set, with the Raonic serve working quite well, while the forehands were hitting the mark too.
Much like the Marin Cilic match, Federer, who beat Raonic two years ago in the Wimbledon semifinals in straight sets, was not the one forcing the pace in this match, and had he been up against a more seasoned campaigner, who has been here and done this plenty of times before, he probably would have been taking a flight back home a lot earlier.
However, Federer stayed patient, waited for Raonic to make the mistakes and if those mistakes did not come, he decided to crank it up in the tiebreak. In the second set tiebreak, Federer just seemed to exert a tad bit more pressure, and Raonic double faulted – he had 11 double faults in all -- at 3-3 to give the No.3 seed the mini-break he needed.
Two points on his serve took Federer, who played one of the best matches of his career at the same stage last year when he blew Andy Murray off the court, to 6-3, giving him three set points. Having failed to take advantage of four of them in the tenth game, when he lost a 0-40 advantage, Federer made sure it would not happen this time, as a Raonic backhand error handed the No.3 seed the set and a way back into the match.
The Federer gameplan did not change in the third set – stay patient, wait for mistakes from Raonic and not go for too much too early.
With the momentum now not on his side, Raonic seemed to tighten up a little bit more, and while his serves were still difficult to crack, the unforced errors – 40 in total to Federer's 14 -- kept increasing. Two of those, one a double fault and the other a backhand gave Federer the opening he needed, picking up the break to take a 4-3 lead.
The Federer serve stayed solid in the next two games, and as a result, the third set went the way of the great man, giving him a two sets to one lead.
Federer was in control now, with the Raonic serve coming under increasing pressure. The break points kept coming, but the Canadian, to his credit, kept fighting them off, as the fourth set stayed on serve for the first eight games. Raonic saved two more in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, putting the pressure back on Federer to serve to stay in the fourth set.
The seven-time champ was under the pump a little in the tenth game, going down 15-30, but Raonic bailed him out again with unforced errors, before an ace made it 5-5.
It was now primo pressure time for Raonic, and he seemed to be folding under it at 0-30, but a tremendous stretch volley and a couple of big serves got him back on the right path. That path lit up even more when Federer dropped a couple of double faults in a row to give Raonic a chance, with the Canadian, at the third time of asking, breaking the Federer serve to force this Wimbledon 2016 semifinal into a deciding set.
That set was controlled by Raonic, with it all going downhill for Federer in the fourth game, when he seemed to twist his knee while trying to cut out a pass from Raonic. Federer called the trainer for some treatment, and while he held his serve in that particular game, and did not seem too troubled by the problem, Raonic broke through soon enough to become the first Canadian to reach a Wimbledon final.
In the second semifinal, Andu Murray made sure the fans at Centre Court would not have to stay too long, easing past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The Wimbledon final between Murray and Raonic will be played on Sunday.