The Malta Independent 11 July 2015, Saturday

Updated: Djokovic, Federer back in Wimbledon final after beating Gasquet, Murray in straight sets

Associated Press Friday, 10 July 2015, 16:57 Last update: about 5 hours ago

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is back in the Wimbledon final for the fourth time in five years after subduing Richard Gasquet in straight sets.

Djokovic overcame an early barrage of single-handed backhand winners from Gasquet, produced big serves at crucial times and pulled away to win 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4 on Friday in sunny conditions on Centre Court at the All England Club.

Djokovic was twice treated by a trainer on his left shoulder near the end of the second set, but showed no sign of injury as he dominated the third set to reach his 17th Grand Slam final.

The top-ranked Serb is now one win away from a third Wimbledon championship and ninth major title. Awaiting him in Sunday's final will be either Roger Federer or Andy Murray.

Djokovic, playing in his sixth consecutive Wimbledon semifinal and seventh overall, extended his dominance over the 29-year-old Gasquet to 12-1. He has dropped just one set to the Frenchman in their last 10 meetings - none in their three Grand Slam matches.

Gasquet, who also reached the semifinals in 2007, had been trying to become the first Frenchman to reach the Wimbledon final in the Open era. Cedric Pioline finished runner-up in 1997. Instead, he wound up losing his 15th straight match to a No. 1-ranked player.

In the day's second semifinal, seven-time champion Federer was up against 2013 winner Murray, in the 24th career match between the two.

Federer has never lost a Wimbledon semifinal and is bidding to reach his 10th final. It's their first matchup at the All England Club since 2012 - when Federer defeated Murray in the Wimbledon final. Murray, however, beat Federer in straight sets the Olympic final on the same court a few weeks later.

Saturday's women's final will pit five-time champion Serena Williams against 21-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, playing in her first Grand Slam championship match.

Williams will be bidding for her fourth straight major championship, which would complete a "Serena Slam" - a feat she last accomplished in 2002-03. A win would also take Williams three-fourths of the way to a calendar-year Grand Slam, a sweep of all four majors in the same year. Steffi Graf was the last to do that, in 1988.

Playing the kind of untouchable tennis that has brought him 17 Grand Slam titles, Roger Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets Friday to reach his 10th Wimbledon final and put him within one victory of a record eighth championship at the All England Club.

Riding a dominant serve that produced 20 aces, keeping relentless pressure on Murray with his returns and breaking at the end of each set, Federer put on a supreme grass-court performance to outclass his British rival 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.

The win sent Federer into his 26th Grand Slam final, where he will face defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday's championship match. It will be a repeat of last year's final, which Djokovic won in five sets.

If anyone thought the 33-year-old Federer was past his prime, this match dispelled any of those thoughts. The second-seeded Swiss served as well as he ever has, saving one break point in the opening game of the match and never facing another the rest of the way.

Federer won 70 of 81 points on serve and, after the first game, was taken to deuce only once on serve. He piled up 56 winners and had only 11 unforced errors, compared to 35 and 17 for Murray.

Federer, who ran his record in Wimbledon semifinals to 10-0, is the oldest man to reach the final since Ken Rosewall finished runner-up in 1974 at the age of 39.

If he can beat Djokovic, Federer will become first man to win eight Wimbledon titles. In 2012, he tied Pete Sampras and 1880s player William Renshaw with seven.

Federer extended his career record against Murray to 13-11, including 5-1 in Grand Slams.

This was the first time they've met here since 2012, when Federer beat Murray in the Wimbledon final and the Briton won in straight sets a few weeks later on Centre Court in the Olympic final.

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