Roger Federer vs Gilles Simon report: Swiss master sets up Andy Murray semi-final

Federer won 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

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The Independent Online

Two rain breaks troubled Roger Federer's quest for a record eighth Wimbledon title more than his opponent Gilles Simon, but in neither case was it much of a contest. In winning 6-3, 7-5, 6-2, he was even able to afford the indulgence of having his service broken for the first time in 117 games, which occurred towards the end of the second set.

The important thing at that moment, as he said, was his response, and breaking back immediately, and then again right at the start of the third, ensured it was nothing more than the gentlest of stumbles: “I'm happy the streak lasted as long as it did but relieved in a way that I can just focus on normal things now. Reaction was always going to be important for me. Gilles is a quality return player, so no problem to accept that.”

Equally little problem with the two interruptions, either it seemed, both of which came when he was handsomely placed, allowing Simon thinking time but no real respite. “It's never easy for either player, the stop-gos,” Federer said, “but I think I used them to my advantage. It was quite swirly out there too. He's a tough player to play against and clearly I'm very happy with the way I handled the conditions.” He had every reason to be equally pleased with the quality of performance that earned a tenth Wimbledon semi-final, only one behind Jimmy Connors' record in the open era.

Simon, who had put out sixth seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets, had previously beaten him twice - albeit not for seven years - and taken him to five sets in the Australian and French opens. He must have been disappointed not to have made more of a contest of it, while acknowledging that this was a Federer not far from his best.

 

The Frenchman was given an early indication of what to expect when two aces fizzed past him in the first game and his serve was broken in the second by a wondrous backhand down the line. A rain break at 0-3 sent the players off, and despite losing the set in half an hour Simon held six service games in a row before losing the seventh for 3-4.

His best moment came with a break of his own to level at 5-5 but this impudence was immediately punished by losing his own again.

Returning from the second brief rain break, Federer served out for the set, with a couple of aces along the way; and when he broke Simon again in the first game of the third set, it was long odds on any sort of a recovery. None was forthcoming and after a rare double-fault at match point, the No 2 seed finished things off with a spectacular backhand overhead.

“It's been so far,” he summed up. “I've played very solid in thye last year or so., so I'm hoping to keep it up. This is the crunch now.”

Simon now faces an unwanted record of his own. He has never reached a grand slam semi-final in 37 attempts (ten of them at Wimbledon) and only Australian Mark Woodforde (38) has tried and failed more often. No-one had the heart to say to him: “There's always next year.”

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