There was no rain break, no twilight five-set drama and no Wimbledon trophy on offer on Friday but none of that bothered ageless Swiss maestro Roger Federer. Two of those defeats were in 2014 and 2015 against Djokovic; the other came in 2008 against Nadal. Of course, I'm going to be excited and nervous and everything that you can think of.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic is one set away from his sixth Wimbledon final. Instead, the Serb cruised past the Belgian in straight sets and also brushed aside surprise semi-finalist Bautista Agut.
Federer and Nadal hadn't played since then at Wimbledon until their semifinal Friday.
"You go through these kind of emotional moments, especially in big matches like this, all the time".
Still, it'll take that and more to get past the No. 1-seeded Djokovic, who is up to his usual body-bending, grind-it-out excellence at the baseline, even winning a 45-stroke point while eliminating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. As they prepare for the Wimbledon final, we look at their previous grand slam deciders.More news: Clashes erupt as Hong Kong protest targets Chinese traders
At 33, it might have been presumed that Nadal had a small advantage, if only in endurance, in his 40th career confrontation with Federer, who certainly does his best to avoid exhausting long rallies.
"We had a great match against each other in Paris just recently [Djokovic won 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 7-6 (7-3)]".
Roger Federer greets Rafael Nadal after their semi-final.
Djokovic and Nadal hold arguably the greatest rivalry, having met 54 times (with the former leading 28-26) including some of the most gruelling and intense finals in history - namely the 2012 Australian Open final.
Technical and equipment changes have helped to strengthen Federer's backhand, but we just fear Djokovic will still have a slight edge in too many departments.More news: Introducing HBO Max, WarnerMedia's Streaming Domination Scheme
After losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final, Nadal has never contested a title decider on Centre Court, suffering shock losses to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller, not to mention Nick Kyrgios. But the Spaniard proved incredibly tough in the latter stages, and made Federer earn every single point towards the end.
Like two boxers sizing up their opponent, the pair tip-toed around in what was ultimately a cagey first set, with only one break point coming and going for Federer before it headed to a tie-break.
Nadal led 3-2 in the tiebreaker before Federer won five straight points, clinching the set with a forehand victor.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will face each other in the semifinals Friday, their first meeting at the All England Club since their classic 2008 final.
Once his volley victor found the net tape and trickled over to cap the third set, the outcome seemed inevitable. But for an erratic collapse in the second frame, he was in command throughout the match - including a first-set tiebreak - with Nadal straining in pursuit, racing around the court on unreliable knees.More news: China ‘letting us down’ by not importing USA farm products: Donald Trump
Federer's victory means he will be competing in his 12th Wimbledon final on Sunday, where he will meet another of his longtime rivals, and the current defending Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic, who defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut earlier in the day. His forehand also became problematic, while Bautista Agut, who had already beaten Djokovic twice this season, couldn't seem to miss a shot.