LONDON - Fresh from a straight-sets loss to one of the game's all-time greats, it was difficult for Canada's Milos Raonic to look at the positives from his performance at Wimbledon this year.
He made it to the semifinals at the All England Club for the first time and was two wins away from becoming the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam men's singles title. However, his effort Friday against Roger Federer left him disappointed.
The Swiss star broke Raonic in the first game en route to a comfortable 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
"Looking at the big picture, the last two weeks have been in a lot of ways very successful," Raonic said. "I won consecutive matches and put myself into position of the final four here. There are a lot of good things to take from it.
"If you had asked before the start would I sign to make the semis, I would have signed. But when you get to this point the greed of human nature takes over. You want so much more and there's nothing wrong with that."
Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., appeared nervous at the start of his first Grand Slam semifinal appearance, on the showcase centre court to boot. Federer, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, looked as relaxed as ever.
Federer, who owns 17 major titles, broke once in each set and won 61 of 80 points on serve to make it back to a Slam final for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2012.
"I know I can do better," Raonic said. "I was not expecting to play my best, but I was expecting much better. I didn't deal with the situation well today, that's what I can learn from if I reach this situation again.
"The worst would be to feel the same way as I do right now."
Federer will play Novak Djokovic of Serbia for the men's crown on Sunday. Djokovic, the top seed, ran off six of the final seven points in the tiebreaker to beat Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7) to advance to his third Wimbledon final in four years.
Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., will play Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the women's final on Saturday. Bouchard hopes to become the first Canadian women's singles player to win a Grand Slam title.
In addition, Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil and American Jack Sock will play Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States in the men's doubles final. And defending mixed doubles champions Daniel Nestor of Toronto and French partner Kristina Mladenovic will take on Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Hao-Ching Chan of Taiwan in semifinal play.
Federer's dominance against the eighth-seeded Raonic was total. Raonic had 17 aces but also had four double faults and conceded seven break points. Federer was clinical throughout and saved the only break point he faced.
"I didn't put in the serves that I needed," Raonic said. "I usually serve better, but he came with the right shots every single time. He hit returns that didn't allow me to get into the match."
Before this tournament, the last Canadian to reach a singles semifinal at a major was Robert Powell at Wimbledon in 1908, according to Tennis Canada. Montreal native Greg Rusedski reached the U.S. Open final in 1997 but he was representing Great Britain at that time.
Raonic will rise three positions to a career-best ranking of No. 6 when the new ATP rankings are released Monday. He had not been past the second round in each of his three previous appearances at Wimbledon.
"I would have liked to have had more experience on centre court before the semifinals," Raonic said. "But it was not the physical things that bothered me. It was knowing the opportunities that lie ahead. I put too much pressure on myself."
It will be Djokovic's 14th Grand Slam final — and 10th in his last 13 majors. Djokovic won the 2011 Wimbledon title and lost in last year's final to Andy Murray.
The 32-year-old Federer will be playing in his ninth Wimbledon final. If he wins, he will hold the outright record for men's titles, which he currently shares at seven with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw.
Federer would also become the oldest men's Wimbledon champion since the Open era began in 1968. The Swiss great has slipped in the rankings the past two years and failed to get to any Grand Slam finals. This could represent his best chance for another major title.
Federer, who has lost only one set and been broken just once the whole tournament, was asked how much it would mean to lift the Wimbledon trophy once more.
"A lot," he said. "I must say I'm unbelievably proud every time I can walk the grounds here and keep on playing this tournament. I know I don't have 10 left, so I'll try to enjoy it as much as I can. Clearly, the first one was unbelievably special in 2003.
"And that I was able to play so successful for so many years here at Wimbledon has been an unbelievable thrill and that I get another chance to go through these kind of emotions is great."
Federer holds a career 18-16 advantage against Djokovic, but this will be only their second meeting in a major final. Federer beat him for the U.S. Open title in 2007. Overall, Federer has a 6-5 edge in Grand Slam matches. They've faced each other only once before at Wimbledon, with Federer winning in four sets in the 2012 semifinals.
"We know each other's games," said Djokovic, who will move to No. 1 in the rankings with a victory, replacing Rafael Nadal.
"We played many matches on different occasions. We played so many times in semifinals and finals of Grand Slams, different surfaces, big matches over the years. They were very exciting.
"And, of course, most of the matches we play against each other went the distance. So I'm going to be, of course, physically ready and fit to go the distance this time."
The final matchup means that one of the so-called "Big Four" in men's tennis — Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Andy Murray — will walk away with a Grand Slam trophy for the 36th time in 38 majors.
One of the four has won Wimbledon title the past 11 years, seven for Federer.
Djokovic, who has lost in his last two major finals and three of the past four, is going for his seventh Grand Slam title.
"Of course, there is plenty of motivation from my side to win this Grand Slam final after losing last three out of four," he said. "I want to try to get the title. It would mean a lot mentally for me."
The 11th-seeded Dimitrov, with his girlfriend Maria Sharapova watching from his guest box on Centre Court, came in with a 10-match winning streak and had been seeking to become the first Bulgarian to advance to a major final. He pushed Djokovic to the limit but hurt his chances with eight double-faults — including three in a row in one game.
With files from The Associated Press.
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