Swiss tennis star Roger Federer clinched the first singles medal of his career Friday in an epic Olympic marathon, winning 19-17 in the final set against Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer, who won his seventh Wimbledon championship back in July, was on the brink of a shock defeat on Centre Court after dropping the first set, but battled back and eventually subdued del Potro in the longest three-set men’s singles match in the Open Era.
“It was very emotional for both us and a big match obviously, it was so close and tough for him to lose,” Federer said after the match, which lasted a record four hours and 26 minutes. “Emotionally I’m extremely drained. I guess I’ll feel it tomorrow … I was very, very touched at the end.”
With the comeback win, four-time Olympian and current top ranked tennis player in the world Federer is assured of at least a silver.
On Sunday in the final he’ll face the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Del Potro will play the loser of Murray-Djokovic matchup for the bronze.
“I couldn’t be happier, it’s a big moment in my life and a big moment for Switzerland,” Federer, who celebrates his 31st birthday in just five days (Aug. 8), said. “I was aware it’s the first medal for Switzerland and [it was] a big thing that carried me throughout.”
On the women’s side first-time Olympian Maria Sharapova topped Russian teammate Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the gold medal match. Sharapova’s opponent Saturday will be Serena Williams or No. 1-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.