Milos Raonic made Canadian tennis history Friday by defeating one of the sport's all-time greats on its biggest stage.
In rallying to beat seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals at the All England Club, the big-serving Thornhill, Ont., native became the first player representing Canada to reach a Grand Slam men's singles final.
Canadian-born Greg Rusedski made the 1997 U.S. Open final, but by that time he was competing under the British flag. Canada's Eugenie Bouchard reached the Wimbledon women's final in 2014.
The sixth-seeded Raonic, 25, will face No. 2 Andy Murray in Sunday's final after the 2013 Wimbledon champion dispatched No. 10 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
"It'll be a bigger impact [on Canadian tennis] if I can win," Raonic said. "I've got to put my energy into that."
Raonic's victory earned him a measure of revenge against Federer, who came into the match with a 9-2 edge in head-to-head meetings, including a straight-sets win in the Wimbledon semifinals two years ago. Federer had won 10 straight Wimbledon semis.
The third-seeded Federer, who owns a record 17 Grand Slam men's singles titles, was denied a chance to set the all-time record for Wimbledon men's crowns. He shares the mark with Pete Sampras and 1880s player William Renshaw at seven apiece.
The Swiss star may lament a missed opportunity on a break point late in the fourth set that would have allowed him to serve for the match. Instead, Raonic held and later broke Federer in the final game of the set to force a fifth and deciding set.
Service breaks were relatively rare in the match as the tall, powerful Raonic hit 23 aces and Federer had 16 of his own.
Raonic made 40 unforced errors — the more graceful Federer limited his to 14 — but overcame them with several pinpoint winners when the match was on the line in the final set. He finished with 75 winners to Federer's 49.
Federer calls for trainer
After Raonic broke to take the fourth set, Federer called for a trainer on the changeover and had his right thigh massaged.
Then, while serving at 2-1 down in the fifth, Federer lost his footing on a deuce point and fell onto his stomach on the turf while trying in vain to reach a passing shot. Federer went immediately to his chair and called for trainer, who examined his left knee.
Federer, who had surgery on his left knee in January, resumed the game and didn't show any outward sign of injury. But he was broken in that game after a crucial double-fault at deuce. On the second break point, Raonic stroked a forehand cross-court passing shot winner after both men made difficult volleys to stay in the point.
That break put Raonic in firm control, and he stayed on top the rest of the set and served out the match at love.
It was a breakthrough victory for Raonic, who has had John McEnroe in his coaching corner since the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen's Club.
"What he told me today is, 'leave it all out there,'" Raonic said.
In his previous Grand Slam semifinal match, Raonic lost to Murray at this year's Australian Open.
At 25, he's the youngest Wimbledon finalist since Murray reached the title match in 2012 at the same age.
Raonic came into the semifinals on a five-match losing streak against players ranked in the top three. He was also 0-4 in majors against top-three players.