Another final of the Rs
Rafael Nadal set up a third successive Wimbledon final with five-time champion Roger Federer on Friday when he defeated Germany's Rainer Schuettler 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 in the semifinals.
Federer had earlier defeated Russia's Marat Safin 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 to move to within one win of a record sixth consecutive Wimbledon title.
Nadal, who came close to taking the world number one's All England Club crown in 2007 and destroyed the top seed at Roland Garros just four weeks ago, will be bidding to become only the third man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season.
Victory would also make the second seed the first Spanish winner of the Wimbledon men's singles title since Manuel Santana in 1966.
Schuettler had spent three more hours than Nadal getting to the semifinal, including tying the record for the second longest men's match in Wimbledon history in getting past Arnaud Clement in the last eight.
That was five sets taking five hours and 12 minutes spread over two days.
On Friday, he was a set down in only 23 minutes with Nadal breaking in the first, third and seventh games to threaten a Centre Court rout.
But the 32-year-old German, giving away 10 years to the Spaniard, rallied and broke Nadal to take a 2-1 lead in the second set with a wrong-footing, cross-court forehand on his way to taking a 5-4 lead.
Nadal, however, broke in the 10th game as Schuettler served for the set and then dominated the tiebreak, taking the second set when the German watched a loose forehand drift wide.
The four-time French Open champion then illustrated his intimidating, all-court power by unleashing a 100mph forehand in the second game of the third set before breaking the dispirited German to lead 2-1.
Even a bloodied left knee, which he needed to gingerly ice, failed to disrupt the 22-year-old Mallorcan who comfortably stretched his lead to 5-3.
Schuettler saved three match points in the next game but Nadal carved out three more on his next service game which he converted to victory after two hours on court when the German went wide with a weak return.
In the first semifinal, a near flawless display ensured Federer was detained on Centre Court for just one hour and 41 minutes as he compiled the win over the Russian to set up what is expected to be another showdown with Nadal in the final.
"It is great," Federer said after wrapping up what was his 65th straight win on grass. "It is a beautiful feeling to have the opportunity to win the title again here."
Federer, who is bidding to become the first player to win six consecutive titles at the All England since the 19th Century, admitted he had been surprised by the ubiquity of predictions that Nadal would deny him the place in history he craves.
"I guess you can say what ever you like but I was surprised by how intense it was," he said. "But the fact was that Rafa beat me so easily in Paris and went on to win at Queens.
"He has been playing fantastically but don't write me off too quickly because this is my part of the season, Wimbledon and the US Open."