Milos Raonic made Canadian tennis history Friday by defeating one of the sport’s all-time greats on its biggest stage.
In rallying to beat seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals at the All England Club, the big-serving Thornhill, Ont., native became the first player representing Canada to reach a Grand Slam men’s singles final.
Canadian-born Greg Rusedski made the 1997 U.S. Open final, but by that time he was competing under the British flag. Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard reached the Wimbledon women’s final in 2014.
The sixth-seeded Raonic, 25, moves on to Sunday’s final to face the winner of the other semifinal between No. 2 Andy Murray, who won Wimbledon in 2013, and No. 10 Tomas Berdych.
“It’ll be a bigger impact [on Canadian tennis] if I can win,” Raonic said. “I’ve got to put my energy into that.”
Raonic’s victory earned him a measure of revenge against Federer, who came into the match with a 9-2 edge in head-to-head meetings, including a straight-sets win in the Wimbledon semis two years ago.
The third-seeded Federer, who owns a record 17 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, was denied a chance to set the all-time record for Wimbledon men’s crowns. He shares the mark with Pete Sampras and 1880s player William Renshaw at seven apiece.
The Swiss star may lament a missed opportunity on a break point late in the fourth set that would have allowed him to serve for the match. Instead, Raonic held and later broke Federer in the final game of the set to force a fifth and deciding set.
Service breaks were relatively rare in the match as the tall, powerful Raonic hit 23 aces and Federer had 16 of his own.
Raonic made 40 unforced errors — the more graceful Federer limited his to 14 — but overcame them with several pinpoint winners when the match was on the line in the final set.