Federer returned to the tour on the grass courts of Stuttgart, Germany, and lost his first match, to the semiretired Tommy Haas. But Federer regained his form a week later in Halle, Germany, and has continued to improve throughout this tournament.

“That was the idea, that the second week of Wimbledon is that I would feel my best,” he said. “I feel like it’s coming along nicely, to be quite honest.”

Photo

Marin Cilic as he advanced to the semifinals with a win over Gilles Müller. Cilic will meet Sam Querrey of the United States.

Credit
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

The third-seeded Federer’s remaining path to the title wends through giants — in stature, if not accomplishments. He will next face the 6-foot-5 Tomas Berdych, the No. 11 seed, who advanced when second-seeded Novak Djokovic retired while trailing, 7-6 (2), 2-0, in their quarterfinal. A pair of 6-6 players — seventh-seeded Marin Cilic and 24th-seeded Sam Querrey — meet in the other semifinal Friday.

Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist in 2010 and a semifinalist last year, has not beaten Federer since 2013.

“They will have their word to say of the outcome of the matches,” Federer said. “They’ve got big serves, big forehands — big hitters, really. All three guys are taller and stronger than I am. I’ve got to figure out a different way — carve my way through the draw somehow with my slice, my spins, my consistency, maybe. I’m looking forward to doing that.”

The last time Federer’s road to a major championship appeared this clear on paper was before his semifinal at the 2014 United States Open, where all that stood between him and the title was a semifinal against Cilic and a final against Kei Nishikori. But Cilic blitzed Federer, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, and went on to win his only Grand Slam title in similarly dominant fashion over Nishikori.

Cilic, who beat Gilles Müller, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1, on Wednesday, said his experience winning in New York had stayed with him as he again competes in the closing phases of a major.

“I believe, when coming at these stages of the tournament, I’m going to still be able to play great tennis,” said Cilic, a 28-year-old Croat. “I know I have it in me that I can win.”

On Friday, Cilic will have to beat Querrey, which could be an arduous task. The last time they faced each other at Wimbledon, in 2012, Cilic won the fifth set, 17-15.

Querrey reached his first Grand Slam semifinal by beating top-seeded Andy Murray, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1. Murray faded in later sets with a lingering hip injury.

Murray remained sharp in his news conference, however. Long a defender of women’s tennis among men’s players, he grew rankled at a question that began by mention of Querrey’s becoming “the first U.S. player to reach a major semifinal since 2009.”

“Male player,” Murray interjected, correcting the statistic.

Indeed, a day earlier, Venus Williams had reached a major semifinal, the 25th by an American woman since Andy Roddick reached his last, at Wimbledon eight years ago. Serena Williams has accounted for 18 of the 25.

Querrey said American men’s tennis, maligned for failing to compare to past generations or the current women, “isn’t that bad.”

“I know it kind of gets a bad rep; that’s just ’cause guys don’t win majors,” Querrey said.

Though he has the least experience at this stage of a major among the remaining four, Querrey, 29, is growing more familiar with success at Wimbledon.

Last year, Querrey defeated Djokovic, who was the top seed and defending champion, in the third round en route to his first major quarterfinal. That run increased Querrey’s belief, he said. It had been “kind of a bummer,” he said, not to have reached a quarterfinal before.

“Last year definitely kind of gave me a new boost that I could do it,” Querrey said. “There have been times in my career where I definitely thought, ‘If I had to bet, am I going to make a semi?’ I probably would have gone, ‘No.’

“Now that I made the quarters last year, and semis here, I’m feeling confident. I think I can go even a little further.”

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