Roger Federer exacted a measure of Wimbledon revenge over his great rival Rafael Nadal in Friday's semi-final to set up a showdown with defending champion Novak Djokovic in this year's showpiece.

Eleven years ago Nadal came out on top in a final considered one of the finest matches ever played - one that spanned five sets and almost five hours - but in their first Wimbledon meeting since, it was Federer who emerged victorious 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer, who turns 38 next month, took a first-set tie-break and though he lost his way as Nadal levelled up the contest, it was the second seed who stepped up a gear on his favourite surface.

Clay-court king Nadal had won the last meeting between these two in straight sets in this year's French Open semi-final, but grass is more Federer's domain, and he broke the Spaniard early in both the third and fourth sets before closing out a brilliant victory in just over three hours.

There was little to separate the pair early on, with just five points dropped on serve across the opening seven games.

Federer brought up the first break point in the next game but Nadal won a 21-shot rally and the two headed for a breaker, with the Swiss coming from 3-2 behind and forging ahead with a crunching forehand winner.

At 1-1 in the second set, Federer had two break opportunities but could seize neither and he appeared to lose his way when his opponent reeled off five games in a row, the 20-time grand slam champion at one point wildly miscuing a shot at the net into the crowd to be broken for a second time in a row.

But he was back on song in the next, brilliantly outduelling Nadal at the net and then fending off three break points to go 4-1 up, bringing up set point with a classic backhand down the line and then holding to love.

Nadal started the fourth set with a double fault and lost his second service game, Federer appearing to have an extra spring in his step as he manoeuvred his feet to dispatch a brilliant forehand winner.

Two match points on the Nadal serve came and went, and the Spaniard netted a backhand with a chance to make it 5-5, but Federer eventually got the job done at the fifth time of asking and advanced to a 12th Wimbledon final where he will meet Djokovic, who beat the Swiss in both 2014 and 2015.

Novak Djokovic said it felt like "a dream come true" to reach another Wimbledon final.

The Serbian top seed overcame Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets on Centre Court on Friday.

His 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 success left Djokovic thrilled, and he headed off to watch as much of the keenly anticipated clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as he could manage.

Four-time champion Djokovic said: "This has been the dream tournament for me when I was a child, so to be in another final is a dream come true regardless of the history and the many finals that I've played in grand slams.

"Playing finals at Wimbledon is something different, so I'll definitely enjoy that experience."

Djokovic spent long stretches of the match chuntering to himself and at times taking on the crowd, suspecting they favoured Bautista Agut. Eventually he channelled his frustrations in a positive way, gaining control of a match that had become finely balanced.

"I had to dig deeper," Djokovic said, after booking a sixth visit to the final. "It's semi-finals and Roberto was playing his first semi-finals in a grand slam, but regardless of that he was not really overwhelmed with the stadium and the occasion. He played really well.

"In the first set he was still probably managing his nerves and made some uncharacteristic unforced errors, but later on at the beginning of the second he started to establish himself.

"He started to play better and he placed his serves really, really nicely to open up the points. I got a bit tight and it was a very close opening five or six games of the third set.

"That's where the match really could have gone different ways and I'm glad it went my way."

Asked about his plans for the rest of Friday, with Federer and Nadal following Djokovic onto court, he added: "Of course I will watch it. I'm a fan of that match-up as well. Federer-Nadal is one of the most epic rivalries of all-time."

Novak Djokovic won through to his sixth Wimbledon final and will chase a fifth title on Sunday after grinding out victory against Roberto Bautista Agut.

The 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 success for Serbian top seed Djokovic was not always pretty, and his frustration boiled over several times.

There were moments when Djokovic seemed to believe he was in a bearpit of an arena, rather than the genteel surroundings of Centre Court in leafy south-west London.

He took on the crowd for showing support for Bautista Agut, when the Spanish 23rd seed produced a spirited fightback to take the second set, and may have won few friends.

Yet this was all about getting another job done for Djokovic, another step on a well-trodden path towards glory.

It has been Djokovic, and not Andy Murray, not Roger Federer and certainly not Rafael Nadal, who has been the dominant force in the men's singles at Wimbledon over the last decade.

Titles in 2011, 2014, 2015 and last year have helped the 32-year-old reach a haul of 15 grand slams, with more surely to come. He may one day become the most prolific slam winner.

Bautista Agut was playing his first grand slam semi-final at the age of 31 in a week when he was meant to be on his own stag party in Ibiza. He was shaky in the early moments and dropped serve twice in the opening set.

The inevitable question was whether this would remain a one-sided contest, as disappointing as the two women's semi-finals on Thursday, or whether Bautista Agut might find a response.

Watched from the Royal Box by Rod Laver and Alex Ferguson, the initially imperturbable Djokovic suddenly hit a dip and his opponent began to score with winners.

One such shot, a tremendous inside-out forehand, whistled past Djokovic's backhand to earn a break.

Djokovic became ragged, and his mood darkened when Bautista Agut levelled the match with a forehand off the netcord, the ball dropping dead on the world number one's side.

Seemingly riled by the British crowd siding with Bautista Agut, rather than the time-and-again Wimbledon champion in their midst, Djokovic threw up his arms in an invitation for them to get behind him instead.

The rallies became longer, Djokovic ready to test Bautista Agut's mental and physical stamina. And when Bautista Agut held his first service game of the third set, Djokovic swung his racket towards the grass in exasperation.

Eventually he managed to channel his aggression sensibly and broke for 4-2 by taking command of the net on successive points, roaring a battle cry when he smashed away to seize the momentum.

Djokovic pointed to his ear, another message to the crowd, when he lashed a backhand down the line to win a remarkable 45-shot point and save break point in his next service game.

He took the set, missed out on three break points at the start of the fourth but struck in Bautista Agut's next service game, again in the fifth game, and it was all downhill from there.

This was seen by many as the aperitif for the second semi-final between Federer and Nadal. Djokovic may end up being the headline act again come Sunday evening.

John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC, observed Djokovic had managed to turn his perception of crowd bias into a positive.

"He used it to energise himself and you've got to love that," McEnroe said.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Novak Djokovic [1] bt Roberto Bautista Agut [23] 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 42/29
Bautista Agut – 34/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 9/3
Bautista Agut – 5/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 5/8
Bautista Agut – 1/5

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Djokovic – 64
Bautista Agut – 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Djokovic – 77/51
Bautista Agut – 68/49

TOTAL POINTS
Djokovic – 119
Bautista Agut - 102

Serena Williams and Simona Halep plan to "chill" and stay "calm" in the heat of a Wimbledon final battle on Saturday but that could be easier said than done.

Williams will get another chance to match Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles on Centre Court, 12 months after she was denied by Angelique Kerber.

The legendary American kept her composure during that defeat, but suffered a meltdown in a shock US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka last September.

Williams was also fined $10,000 for damaging a court with her racket during a practice session at the All England Club this month.

The 37-year-old says she has learned a more relaxed approach is the way forward as she prepares to face Halep at SW19.

Reflecting on her major final losses in 2018, she said: "I had to get to those finals. Looking back, to even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable.

"Now I'm in a different place. Like I just am more calm. Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. It's like I'm in the middle."

She added after a semi-final defeat of Barbora Strycova on Thursday: "I was actually thinking this morning, when I won my first Wimbledon. I think it was against Venus.

"I was trying to tap into those emotions. I was really calm. I remember I think I hit an ace. I just remember how it's so, so different when you're younger as opposed to now. Now I just need to relax and do what I can do."

Halep was the epitome of composure in a straight-sets demolition of Elina Svitolina that secured her place in a first Wimbledon final.

The amiable Romanian won her maiden grand slam title at the French Open last year and says keeping her cool has been key to her success.

Halep said: "I'm in a good position. I have no pressure on myself. I have expectations for myself that I can do a great job on Saturday. Still I'm chill.

"It doesn't mean that I'm not working hard or I'm not focused on what I have to do. It's just that as a person I want to chill. We see that I'm better on court.

"I am confident. I know that everything is possible. If you don't give up, you have a better chance to do great things. I have learned that. I understood that I'm better now. I'm stronger."

With so much at stake, it remains to be seen whether they can practice what they preach.

Simona Halep will face what she described as a "big challenge" in her first Wimbledon final against the great Serena Williams on Saturday.

Halep knows all about the pressure of playing in grand slam deciders, losing three before claiming her maiden major title at the French Open last year.

The former world number one is also well aware of how hard it is to beat 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, having come out on top in only one of their 10 encounters.

Halep's solitary triumph over the veteran, winner of the singles title at Wimbledon on seven occasions, came at the 2014 WTA Finals.

So how can the Romanian go about denying the American a record-equalling 24th major success at SW19?

Here is what the three women to have beaten the 37-year-old legend in a Wimbledon final have said about achieving the feat.

 

SHARAPOVA: NO EASY ROAD TO BEATING SERENA

Williams was expected to be too strong for Maria Sharapova, but the 17-year-old Russian pulled off a stunning 6-1 6-4 victory in 2004.

The teenager showed no fear on Centre Court, blowing away a strong favourite who had won the title the two previous years to claim her first major title.

Sharapova went on to become a fierce rival of Williams' and claims she heard her crying in the locker room after dethroning her on the hallowed grass 15 years ago.

She said of the challenge of facing Williams: "There's no easy road to victory. You're going to have your bumps. That's the way I see it."

 

VICTORY SEEMED SO FAR AWAY - VENUS

While losing any final is hard to take, losing to your sister should soften the blow somewhat.

It was Venus who won the battle of the siblings in 2008, lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for a fifth time following a 7-5 6-4 victory.

There were long baseline exchanges between the heavy-hitters and the older sister came from a break down in both sets to come out on top.

Venus said: "When you're in the final against Serena, five [titles] seems so far away. She played so awesome so it was really a task."

 

STAYING 'COOL' HELPED KERBER PUT THE HEAT ON

Angelique Kerber stopped Williams from matching Margaret Court's tally of 24 grand slam singles titles with a 6-3 6-3 win last year.

Kerber made only five unforced errors in a brilliant performance, hardly putting a foot run to deny Williams her first title since becoming a mother.

The German said: "I didn't feel like she lost the match, I won it.

"I was trying not to think too much that I was playing against Serena, staying on my side of the court. Staying a little bit cool, being not too emotional.’

Simona Halep kept herself in the frame for a first Wimbledon title and England's cricketers created an increased buzz in SW19 on Thursday.

Halep potted a semi-final win against Elina Svitolina before being asked about her interest in snooker given three-time world champion Mark Selby is one of only two people she follows on Twitter.

David Beckham was among the famous faces in the Royal Box to see Halep and Serena Williams seal their places in the women's singles final.

There was also excitement at the All England Club for a major sporting showdown taking place in Birmingham, where England beat Australia to reach the Cricket World Cup final.

Catch up on what was happening around the grounds on day 10 of the grass-court grand slam.

 

POCKET ROCKET HALEP CLEARS UP SELBY FOLLOW

Halep has huge Twitter support but chooses those she follows carefully, selecting only her former coach Darren Cahill and Leicester cueman Selby.

Romania's 2018 French Open champion might not know the intricacies of snooker, but she is a fan of the player nicknamed 'The Jester'.

"I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him." Halep said.

"He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him."

 

AUSTRALIA SOS SIGNALS CREATE A RACKET

Crowds gathered to watch a band strike up with numbers such as Abba's SOS as Pimm's and champagne flowed late in the morning.

The distress signals from Australia players at Edgbaston also went down well as word reached Wimbledon that England were on course to reach the World Cup final.

Australia's early collapse in their semi-final was being discussed on the walk-up towards the All England Club grounds and as the tennis was taking place.

While some were clearly as confused by the cricket as Halep is by snooker, the majority were looking forward to another huge final in London this weekend after England set up a clash with New Zealand at Lord's.

 

BECKS AND BRANSON WATCH ON

Beckham is a Wimbledon regular and all eyes were on the former England football captain when he rocked up in dapper attire.

As Halep and Williams made statements on the main showcourt, Beckham made one of his own with a gold jacket, blue and white striped shirt and a snazzy tie.

Sir Richard Branson sat just along from Beckham to witness Halep and Williams go about their business in ruthless fashion.

 

AMERICAN ROGER FAN FED UP

While most people know what is in store well before they arrive at Wimbledon, there can be the odd one unsure what action will be served up.

An American visitor was heard asking "What time is Federer on?" and appeared bemused when informed he faces Rafael Nadal on Friday.

Serena Williams is taking Tiger Woods' Masters triumph as her Wimbledon inspiration as she bids to land a record-equalling 24th grand slam title.

After years of injury agony and torment in his personal life, Woods landed his 15th golf major at Augusta in April at the age of 43.

The chances of Woods winning again at that level had been repeatedly written off, and there have been some suspicions that his fellow American Williams might fall painfully short of matching Margaret Court's all-time grand slam haul.

Williams, though, has never lost belief in her ability to scoop titles at the highest level, and the 37-year-old usually achieves what she sets out for.

She will tackle Romanian Simona Halep in Saturday's final, eyeing Wimbledon singles glory for an eighth time.

She feels medical technology is extending the careers of sporting greats such as her, and said: "That's the only reason I'm able to compete. I feel like if we had this technology 20 years ago, maybe Michael Jordan would still be playing basketball. I just feel like we know so much more about our bodies.

"Things I do differently now than when I first was on tour, it's lengthening my career. It's not just me, it's Roger [Federer], Tom Brady, Peyton [Manning] played forever. There are so many athletes now that are able to do better and play longer, even play some of their best way after they are 30.

"Those athletes, Tiger obviously, what he did at the Masters, was on top of my mind. Those athletes are incredibly inspiring. That's one thing that keeps me moving forward."

Williams swatted aside Barbora Strycova in their semi-final on Thursday, winning 6-1 6-2 in 59 minutes.

She pointed to her mixed doubles experience with Andy Murray over the past week as a crucial part of her championships, believing it has helped her sharpness around the net.

"I kept telling you guys I thought the doubles would help me," Williams said in her post-match press conference. "I really feel like it helped me, not just for today and this event, but hopefully it will help me in the future."

Williams was in this position 12 months ago, only to lose to Angelique Kerber in the final. And at the US Open she again moved to the brink of the 24th grand slam but was beaten by Naomi Osaka in a controversial title match.

Because she has come so far in her comeback, after giving birth in September 2017, Williams feels better-placed now to manage the pressure of a Wimbledon final.

She added: "I have been, just this whole year, trying to stay fit so I can be able to play in grand slams."

Halep will be no pushover and Williams recognises the former world number one poses a threat.

"There's so many impressive things about her," Williams said. "You can't underestimate her. She's like a little powerhouse."

Simona Halep rated a straight-sets demolition of Elina Svitolina as one of her best performances on grass and says she can move to another level in the Wimbledon final against Serena Williams.

Halep cruised into her first championship match at the All England Club with an emphatic 6-1 6-3 defeat of eighth seed Svitolina on Centre Court.

The 2018 French Open champion says she has grown to love grass and has no fear of facing Williams, who will be out to equal Margaret Court's record tally of 24 grand slam singles titles on Saturday.

Halep has lost her last five matches against the American, but feels well-equipped to gain revenge when she becomes the first Romanian woman to play in a Wimbledon singles final.

"I have played many matches against her. Many of them were very close," said the former world number one.

"I have learned that I have a chance. Now I believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect what she has done and what she's doing.

"But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It's just a big challenge for me."

She added: "I want to focus on what I can do better. So I have a few things that I want to do better in the next round - I need to do better.

"But at least I'm in the final, so I will not put pressure on myself. I just want to plan what I have to play in the final, then to enjoy it."

Halep was a cut above WTA Finals champion Svitolina and says there is more to come.

"She was really strong. She didn't give up a point. The rallies were very long and very powerful, as well. It was really tough to stay there," Halep added.

"But I knew that I was prepared to fight for every ball. I played many times against her, and I knew that she doesn't let the rhythm drop.

"I had to be there, I had to be strong. Today I think it was one of the best matches on grass."

Elina Svitolina was left to rue "poor decisions" in her first grand slam semi-final but admitted the "unbelievable" Simona Halep was too good for her at Wimbledon.

Halep cruised to a 6-1 6-3 victory on Centre Court, becoming the first Romanian woman to reach the singles final at the All England Club.

WTA Finals champion Svitolina never really got going, with Halep much more aggressive as she set up a showdown with Serena Williams on Saturday.

Eighth seed Svitolina praised the 2018 French Open winner and was left to reflect on what might have been at SW19 on Thursday.

"I was nervous, but I think it was the same as in some other big matches," said the Ukrainian.

"I haven't played as many [big games] as she has because she won a grand slam, so she knows how it feels to achieve something major in your career.

"I don't know if it's a lack of experience a little bit today, but I think she played unbelievably. She was moving really good, striking the ball perfectly.

"It's a little bit of me making poor decisions in some important moments, and then her playing unbelievable which made the score like that."

Serena Williams powered through to an 11th Wimbledon final and to the brink of history as she swept aside Barbora Strycova on Centre Court.

The American, at the age of 37, handed a thumping 6-1 6-2 lesson to Czech Strycova, whose first singles semi-final at a grand slam proved distinctly one-sided.

Victory for Williams sets up a shot at a record-equalling 24th grand slam title, with Romanian Simona Halep the player standing in her way of matching Australian Margaret Court's all-time tally in Saturday's final.

Williams, hunting an eighth Wimbledon crown, said: "It definitely feels good to be back in the final."

Strycova was making her own history, at 33 becoming the oldest first-time women's singles semi-finalist in an open era grand slam.

But her pre-match mention of having nothing to fear invited the suspicion that she thought it was a different Serena Williams on the other side of the net; not the women who had beaten her in three previous grand slam matches without dropping a set.

And rather than having nothing to lose, as Strycova ventured, this was unquestionably the greatest opportunity of her career.

Privately, she would surely have acknowledged that, and perhaps feared her crafty game would be picked apart.

Talking about combating Williams, and turning an all-to-gain mentality into points on the board, has always been different to the harsh reality.

And after finding her feel for the contest, Williams broke in the fourth game, creaming a crosscourt forehand past Strycova at the net.

Williams then held serve to love in a flash, helped by a pair of aces, broke again after setting up the chance with a fizzing backhand down the line, and took the opening set with a perfect drop volley followed by an ace out wide.

Breaks in the fifth and seventh games of the second set confirmed the gulf between this unlikely semi-final pairing, with Williams sealing victory when Strycova could only poke a serve back over the net and watch it returned with interest into an empty court.

Williams won her 23rd grand slam title in Australia two and a half years ago, since when she has married and become a mother.

The wait for the 24th slam has included defeats in the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year, and now Halep awaits her in another All England Club final.

It has a similar feel to last year's title match, when German left-hander Angelique Kerber was written off by many yet beat Williams with some comfort.

Halep brushed aside Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 earlier in the day, and Williams said: "She's tough. She played unbelievable today. We've played on grass before and we've always had good matches. I look forward to it."


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Serena Williams [11] bt Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 27/10
Strycova – 8/10

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 4/1
Strycova – 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 4/5
Strycova – 0/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE

Williams - 60
Strycova - 61

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE

Williams – 88/53
Strycova – 52/44

TOTAL POINTS

Williams - 53
Strycova - 31

Simona Halep produced a relentless display to beat Elina Svitolina in straight sets and become the first Romanian woman to reach a Wimbledon singles final.

Halep was outstanding in her second semi-final at the All England Club, cruising to a 6-1 6-3 victory in only an hour and 13 minutes on a warm Thursday.

WTA Finals champion Svitolina - playing her first major semi-final - was unable to live with the more aggressive seventh seed, who struck 26 winners and served magnificently to stand one win away from a second grand slam title.

The 2018 French Open champion, who said she had finally fallen in love with grass at SW19, will take on Serena Williams or Barbora Strycova in the final on Saturday.

Halep unleashed winners off both wings to save break points in the opening game and took a 2-0 lead courtesy of an unforced error from a nervy Svitolina.

The eighth seed responded with a break to love, but her serve was not firing and she was long with another groundstroke to give Halep the initiative once again.

Halep dictated the baseline rallies and mixed it up with deft drops shots, making a tentative Svitolina scurry frantically and putting away a majestic forehand winner to lead 5-1.

The former world number one needed six set points to wrap it up and Svitolina showed more belief in the second, which started with her first hold of the match.

Svitolina's serve was packing a punch, but the focused Halep earned a roar from the crowd when she showed great touch with a delicate cross-court forehand after charging to the net.

A stray forehand from Svitolina gave Halep the break for a 4-3 lead and the world number seven lost just one point on serve before breaking again to break new ground at the grass-court major.

Eleven years on from their last classic encounter at Wimbledon, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal declared "we are still here" as they prepare to do battle for a 40th time.

Rivals of two of the all-time greats certainly need no reminder of that ahead of their semi-final on Friday.

With 38 grand slam titles between them, Federer and Nadal have stood the test of time and they are still going strong.

The legendary duo could only have dreamed of what they would go on to achieve when they first faced each other in Miami way back in 2004.

Fast forward 15 years, Centre Court will be packed and millions will tune in all over the world for another mouthwatering episode of a captivating sporting rivalry.

Nadal won an epic 2008 final 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 the last time they faced each other on the hallowed grass at SW19 and also came out on top in a last-four showdown en route to a 12th French Open title last month.

The Spaniard is expecting another almighty tussle with an old foe who secured a record 100th singles win at the All England Club at Kei Nishikori's expense on Wednesday.

"I expect to play against probably the best player in history on this surface and know that I have to play my best if I want to have chances to try to be in that final." Nadal, 33, said.

"I had a lot of defeats [against Federer]. I had a lot of victories. The relationship never changed, always big respect, a good friendship. That will probably not change if I win or if I lose.

"I'm excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to again be in that round against him. The opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here."

The mutual appreciation between the duo was clear again when Federer spoke of the challenge he faces. 

He said: "Rafa has improved so much over the years on this surface. He's playing very different than he used to. We haven't played each other in a long, long time on this surface.

"He's serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving, how much faster he finishes points.

"It's impressive to see how healthy he's stayed. We're still here so it's nice to play each other again."

Rafael Nadal booked his place at the ATP Finals for a record 15th straight season with his quarter-final win over Sam Querrey at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

French Open champion Nadal triumphed 7-5 6-2 6-2 on No.1 Court to become the first player to earn a spot at the end-of-season event at the O2 Arena in London.

The 33-year-old, whose other title this season came at the Internazionali d'Italia, takes a 17-match winning run into a tantalising semi-final against eight-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer.

Nadal has never won the Finals, his best performances coming when he finished as the runner-up in 2010 and 2013.

He has only completed seven editions of the tournament, having withdrawn during the 2017 event due to a knee problem and opted out on six occasions – ankle and abdominal issues kept him out last year.

Novak Djokovic faces Roberto Bautista Agut in the other last-four clash and victory for the world number one would see him join Nadal in guaranteeing a place in the Finals.

Roberto Bautista Agut will take centre stage at Wimbledon rather than at his bachelor party in Ibiza after reaching his first grand slam semi-final.

The Spaniard was due to be in the party island instead of facing Guido Pella on Wednesday but was in the mood to celebrate after breaking new ground with a 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory.

Bautista Agut is set to provide the entertainment for his friends at the All England Club when he faces defending champion Novak Djokovic on Friday.

Serena Williams and Andy Murray were in great spirits despite crashing out of the mixed doubles, while Jon Rahm was among the famous faces in the crowd at SW19.

Catch up with the action on a ninth day of the grass-court major, which saw Roger Federer claim a record 100th singles win to set up another showdown with Rafael Nadal.

LONDON CALLING RBA's PARTY-GOING PALS

Bautista should probably have been sitting in the sun sipping a cold drink with his friends rather than battling it out with Pella on No.1 Court.

The 23rd seed was more than happy to change his plans, though, and half a dozen of his friends will be bound for London to soak up the biggest match of his life.

He said: "I had planned to be in Ibiza right now. We had everything organised already. My friends, six of them, are all there. It feels better to be here in London."

Asked if his friends will come to watch him play the world number one, he replied: "I think so. I think they will fly on Friday."

 

I DIDN'T SAY SERENA HAD A BAD MOUTH - MURRAY 

Williams and Murray's 'Murena' quest for mixed doubles glory was ended by top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar.

The dream team still had some entertainment in store when they faced the media, although Murray denied Williams had been guilty of using bad language after stating on Tuesday that he could not repeat some of the things his playing partner said.

Asked about the 23-time grand slam winner's use of expletives, he said "Did I say that? I don't think I said that."

The journalist replied: "You said you were sharing some jokes but you couldn't repeat them." To which a smiling Murray responded: "That's different. That's how you interpreted it. I didn't say she had a bad mouth."

 

RAHM GETTING IN MAJOR SWING

Jon Rahm swapped his golf clubs for the All England Club just eight days before he tees off in The Open.

The Spaniard was easy to spot among the great and good in the Royal Box, sporting a black shirt with one stars on and a spotted bright blue tie.

Rahm won the Irish Open last weekend and he will also be treated like royalty in his homeland if he lifts the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush a week on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal is excited by the "unique situation" of renewing a Wimbledon rivalry with Roger Federer, 11 years after their last meeting at SW19.

Not since their classic encounter in the 2008 final, when the Spaniard triumphed in five gruelling sets to win his first Wimbledon title, have Nadal and long-term foe Federer gone head to head at the slam.

Nadal outclassed Sam Querrey on Wednesday to set up a last-four showdown with Federer, who overcame Kei Nishikori for a 100th match win at Wimbledon.

And Nadal, who defeated Federer at the same stage of the French Open last month, appreciates opportunities to face the Swiss great on these sort of occasions are particularly special in the twilight of their careers.

"To play against Roger always is a unique situation. I'm excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years. It means a lot for me and probably for him, too," Nadal said.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to again play in that round against him. I always say the same, the opportunities to play against each other every time are less, but we are still here.

"The last two months have been very positive for me personally, probably for Roger, too, because he played good [to reach the] semi-finals at Roland Garros. He had the title in Halle. He's now in the semi-finals here again.

"That makes us keep playing because we still feel that we have chances to compete for the most important things. That's what really make us keep playing with this intensity."

Asked if his straight-sets victory over Federer at Roland Garros can aid his cause on Centre Court when they play on Friday, Nadal replied: "It's difficult to say yes or no.

"Probably it's better to have that victory than have defeat, of course. But on the other hand, it's a completely different situation."

Nadal's victory over Federer in 2008 was the third in a trilogy of consecutive finals played between the greats at Wimbledon.

Asked about his memories of those encounters, Nadal said: "We played a lot of good matches. Here in this tournament we played especially two great matches, 2007 and 2008.

"Personally 2008 was a little bit more emotional for me. But I appreciate the fact that I have been part of the 2007 match, too. Then we played a lot of matches all around [the world]. Only in New York we didn't play. That's the only bad news."

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