Roger Federer feels ‘strange’ being in Wimbledon final, 16 years after first

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates after winning his semifinal match against Spain's Rafael Nadal. (Reuters)
Updated 13 July 2019
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Roger Federer feels ‘strange’ being in Wimbledon final, 16 years after first

  • On Sunday, he will face world number one Novak Djokovic
  • Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003

WIMBLEDON, London: Roger Federer admitted Friday that it felt "strange" he and Serena Williams will compete for Wimbledon titles this weekend, 16 years after he made his Grand Slam breakthrough.
The 37-year-old Swiss reached his 12th final at the All England Club with a 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat of old rival Rafael Nadal.
On Sunday, he will face world number one Novak Djokovic where he hopes to capture a ninth Wimbledon and record-extending 21st Grand Slam crown.
Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003, beating Mark Philippoussis in the final.
That same weekend, Serena was beating sister Venus for the second successive year in the women's final.
On Saturday, Serena faces Simona Halep for an eighth Wimbledon title and record-equalling 24th major.
"Yeah, it's definitely a bit unusual, a bit strange," said Federer who will be the third oldest man to play in a Slam final on Sunday.
"I hope it's going to happen again for somebody, to have such a big span between the first final.
"It's definitely special I think for both of us. Serena was even earlier on tour than me because she made the breakthrough earlier. It's amazing what she's been able to do.
"For me, it's not something I ever expected. Winning that '03 title was something so surreal that it's nice to be back in another final. Means really a lot to me."
Federer's win over Nadal on Friday came in the pair's 40th career meeting and 11 years after the Spaniard triumphed in a mesmeric, epic final.
The Swiss needed five match points to secure the victory, his 16th of their 15-year rivalry.
"It lived up to the hype, especially from coming out of the gates, we were both playing very well.
"Then the climax at the end with the crazy last game, some tough rallies there. It had everything at the end, which was great. I'm just relieved it's all over at this point.
"But it's definitely going to go down as one of my favourite matches to look back at because it's Rafa, it's at Wimbledon."
Djokovic leads Federer 25-22 in career meetings with the Serb holding a 2-1 edge in Wimbledon clashes.
Federer won their first duel in the 2012 semi-finals but Djokovic triumphed in the 2014 and 2015 championship matches.
Overall, Djokovic holds a 9-6 edge in the Slams.
However, Federer said he won't be over-awed by the challenge as he chases a 21st major and Djokovic targets a 16th.
"Age kicks in. I know it's not over yet. There's no point to start partying tonight or get too emotional, too happy about it, even though I am extremely happy," said Federer.
"I think I can with experience really separate the two.
"If it was the end of the tournament, it would be very different right now. I'd be speaking very different, feeling very different. There is fortunately, one more.
"It's great on many levels. But got to put my head down and stay focused."


Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 20 July 2019
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Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

CAIRO: Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.
Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.
For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.
It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.
With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.
Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.
As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.
It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.
Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.
Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.
Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.
The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.
Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.