Continued from page 2

“It’s like it always is with these guys; it’s just a couple points,” said Federer’s coach, Paul Annacone, who also worked with Sampras. “The third set was obviously pivotal, and Roger played a couple of the big points a little bit better.”

That was part of a five-game run for Federer, who soon broke again and went up 3-0 in the fourth set.

In the U.S. Open semifinals last September, Djokovic came back to win after facing a two-set deficit and two match points. There would be no such turnaround this time.

“I needed to be very consistent in order to win this match. I wasn’t. I had ups and downs throughout the match,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately the one that lasted for, what, 15-20 minutes — end of the third, beginning of the fourth — (cost) me the win today.”

He hardly resembled the guy who was so self-confident during the last 18 months, while picking up four major titles and compiling a 27-match Grand Slam winning streak. He shrugged his shoulders, put his hands on his hips, shook his head.

“Start of the fourth set, I dropped in the energy level, I thought,” Djokovic said. “I played really a couple of sloppy games, very slow, with no pace.”

Afterward, the 25-year-old Serb said he’d been feeling “not so great, really” for the past five or six days but wouldn’t go into specifics.

Federer’s victory came first Friday, so he had to wait to find out who he would be facing Sunday. Asked for a preference, he didn’t hesitate.

“I’d love to play Murray,” Federer said. “I always say in whatever country I am, I like to play the ‘local hero,’ as I kind of call them, and Andy is exactly that here at Wimbledon.”

Federer got his wish.

So did Murray. And an entire country.