Milos Raonic has shattered Roger Federer’s dreams of an eighth Wimbledon crown with a drama-charged five-set semi-final comeback win over the Swiss master.
Raonic fired down 23 aces – including the fastest serve of the championships – to blot Federer’s perfect 10-from-10 semi-final record at the All England Club with a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 4-6 7-5 6-3 triumph on Friday.
In denying Federer a 28th grand slam final appearance, 25-year-old Raonic advanced to his first – just a month after adding three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe to his coaching team.
Raonic’s breakthrough is sweet redemption for a straight-sets loss to Federer at the same stage in 2014 and also a tough five-set semi-final defeat to Andy Murray at this year’s Australian Open.
The sixth seed could well face Murray in Sunday’s title match, with the Scot up against Czech 10th seed Tomas Berdych in Friday’s second semi-final.
Exactly one month shy of his 35th birthday, Federer was bidding to become the oldest man to reach the Wimbledon final since Ken Rosewall in 1974.
He twice stood within five points of the final deep in the fourth set, only for Raonic to stave off a pair of break points and then break Federer in stunning fashion the very next game to force the semi into a deciding fifth.
From 40-love up at 5-6, Federer twice double-faulted before Raonic scorched a backhand pass down the line to snatch the set.
In a worrying sign, Federer immediately sought treatment for a leg issue – but worse was to follow.
The great Swiss fell awkwardly on the hallowed centre court while desperately scrambling for a ball in the fourth game of the fifth set.
He limped to his chair for more treatment, this time to his knee, five months after undergoing career-saving surgery.
He returned to the court shortly after, but was unable to avoid dropping serve in what proved the beginning of the end.
Raonic held his nerve – and serve three more times – to close out the match after three hours and 25 minutes.