Roger Federer won the 40th instalment of his great rivalry with Rafael Nadal to reach a 12th Wimbledon final, 11 years on from their classic encounter at the All England Club.
The illustrious pair had not met at Wimbledon since the 2008 showpiece which Nadal memorably won, but this time it was Federer who could celebrate as he beat the Spaniard 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4.
Federer, who had lost all four of their previous Grand Slam semi-final meetings, eventually sealed victory in another thrilling tussle on Centre Court on his fifth match point after three hours and two minutes.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will face defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final, targeting a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title.
Federer, who will turn 38 next month, will move three clear of Nadal for Grand Slam men’s singles title and six clear of Djokovic should he win.
Serve dominated the opening set, with the only break point coming in the eighth game and saved by Nadal after a long rally.
Nadal was twice an early mini-break up in the tie-break but Federer responded to win five points in a row to take it 7-3.
Both players saved two break points respectively in back-to-back games at the start of the second set, before the Spaniard took control to win four games in a row as the second seed began to misfire.
Federer broke Nadal for the first time in the match to take a 3-1 lead in the third set and then saved three break points in the next game to consolidate as he seized command to win the third set.
Roger Federer equals Rafael Nadal’s record for most Grand Slam men’s singles finals at one Grand Slam final. Nadal has reached 12 finals at Roland Garros.
The 37-year-old had produced a near flawless set of tennis, hitting 15 winners and just two unforced errors.
Nadal was being put under concerted pressure on his serve and searched for jolt of inspiration as he sought to force a decider, but his challenge was hurt as he was broken to trail 2-1.
As Federer closed in on victory, Nadal continued to fight hard and saved two match points at 3-5 to force his great rival to serve for the match.