Roger Federer outpaced reigning champion Novak Djokovic in an intense Wimbledon 2012 semifinal to reclaim his place as the best player in Tennis. Ironically, it was the speed of the veteran's game that proved too much for the younger Djokovic.
The match lasted barely two hours and 20 minutes and was tense and mistake-ridden from the start. It was unusual to see two such accomplished players be guilty of so many unforced errors.
After the first two sets were split, the match came to life in the third. The highlight was a 26-shot rally in an epic sixth game. Federer took the set and the pattern for his victory became clear heading into the fourth.
The Swiss superstar continued to push the pace of play to its highest levels. It was a masterclass in speed tennis, with Federer's rapid-fire salvos proving too much for Djokovic's usually measured counter strokes.
By setting such a frenetic tempo, Federer succeeded in taking Djokovic out of his comfort zone. The Serb's thoughtful, defensive style couldn't adjust to match the 30-year-old's speed. Djokovic had no choice except to try to keep up.
The effect took its toll. By the decisive fourth set, Djokovic's normally superior athleticism along the baseline had gone. Despite some anxious closing moments, Federer closed out the decisive game to take the third set 6-3 and seal his place in a record eighth final.
As age has caught up with Federer, he has naturally lost a fraction of power and a step of rally speed. This has led to the Swiss master losing his place as the undisputed king of his sport.
However, by defeating Djokovic, Federer has re-asserted himself as the player against which all others in the modern game should be judged. He now has the chance to claim a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title.
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