Roger Federer is one victory away from filling the last space in his creaking trophy cabinet after beating Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in a four hour 25 minute epic to reach the Olympic men's singles final at Wimbledon Friday.The 30-year-old Swiss, who added a 17th Grand Slam title to his collection last month, survived a record-breaking scrap to win 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17 in the longest men's three-set match played in the professional era.
The match, 23 minutes longer than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's Madrid semi-final in 2009, comes after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took 66 games to beat Milos Raonic in the second round — the most seen in an Olympic three-setter.
The great escape means Federer, 30, is guaranteed at least a silver medal.
In Sunday's final, he will face world number two Novak Djokovic or Britain's Andy Murray, who was beaten by Federer in last month's Wimbledon final.
After a relatively barren two years by his standards, Federer is suddenly enjoying another of his dominant periods and this hard-fought victory showed his hunger for success remains as strong as ever.
Less than a month ago, Federer, a doubles gold-medallist with Stanislas Wawrinka in Beijing four years ago, was crowned Wimbledon champion for a record-equalling seventh time. Now he is just one win away from completing the 'golden slam' of titles in all four majors and the Olympic singles gold. Del Potro's 2009 US Open final win over Federer was one of just two victories in 14 meetings with the Swiss, who came from two sets down to beat the 23-year-old in this year's French Open quarter-finals.
But the big Argentine came out fighting, unleashing some hefty serves and punishing groundstrokes to keep Federer from establishing control.