Roger Federer admits even he is surprised at his remarkable return to form but stopped short of saying he is playing the best tennis of his career.
Federer plays world No 15 Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon semi-finals and is now the overwhelming favourite to seal a 19th grand slam title.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray’s surprise exits in the last eight on Wednesday means Federer, at 35, is the last of the game’s ‘big four’ left at SW19. Rafael Nadal lost in the last 16.
Federer’s resurgence is all the more impressive given he took six months off last year to overcome a knee injury and then sat out the clay-court season in an attempt to hit the summer fresh.
After nearly five years without a grand slam title, Federer won the Australian Open in January and is moving closer to his second in seven months.
“Am I surprised? Maybe a little bit. But the plan was always to hopefully be strong also later on in my career,” Federer said. I don’t see myself playing better than a few years ago but I always hope to improve every year. I think it’s definitely different ever since my injury.
“I don’t know if I’m playing better this year than I have in ’14, ’15 when I had great runs at Wimbledon here. Then I just ran into Novak, who was red hot.
“Honestly, it was difficult to come past him for anybody, especially in the big matches. I’m just very happy that I’m still doing so well.”
Federer has won his last seven successive meetings with Berdych but the Czech came out on top in their last match-up on grass, at Wimbledon in 2010.
Berdych also went on to beat Djokovic in the last four that year before eventually falling to Nadal in the final.
“It’s hard to compare,” Berdych said. “I have so much more experience from that time and everything, you can’t really compare those things.
“The only thing that can be funny is that in 2010 I beat Roger and then Novak.
“This year I beat Novak, now I’m playing Roger, so it would be great. Rafa is not there any more. Let’s see. It’s going to be interesting.”