Federer's victory means he will be competing in his 12th Wimbledon final on Sunday, where he will meet another of his longtime rivals, and the current defending Wimbledon champion, Novak Djokovic, who defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut earlier in the day.
The only thing that mattered to the 20-time Grand Slam champion was that, unlike in his last grasscourt duel with Rafael Nadal 11 years ago, he had won the "crazy last game" which sealed his passage into a 12th Wimbledon final. He also became the first man to win 100 singles matches at one Grand Slam. While the odds on the side of Djokovic, who won 27 meetings, with 22 defeats.
Federer ruefully blundered a chance to gain a match point on Nadal's serve at 3-5 when he unsuccessfully challenged a line call having hit a clean victor.
"He started to play better". It's been a rock solid year of mine, I won in Halle [for a record 10th time last month], the stars are aligned right now.
Past year he was close, losing an epic semi to Djokovic when victory would have left him facing an exhausted Kevin Anderson in the final - a virtual open goal. Federer got to 63 such wins with his win over Nadal. But the 31-year-old Bautista Agut held his nerve to eventually level the semi-final at 6-4 off a fortuitous net cord.
That was at 30-40, and Bautista Agut had missed a previous break point as well at 15-40, which he said made him a bit more cautious on his second opportunity. The last 18 strokes were all crosscourt backhands, with the players remaining in more or less the same position until Djokovic finally switched it up with his shot straight down the line. This will be is his sixth appearance in the Wimbledon final.
He baited them on several occasions, first ironically throwing his hands up when they cheered the Spaniard winning the second set, then shushing them by putting his finger against his lips before cupping his ear after winning a 45-shot rally on break point.
Tomorrow, he will face world number one Novak Djokovic where he hopes to capture a ninth Wimbledon and record-extending 21st Grand Slam crown.
"Going to try to use my experience in being in these kind of matches, get myself tactically prepared", Djokovic said.
Who else but Federer could strike a serve so well that Nadal's wild reply would be caught by someone in the Royal Box behind him, as happened early in the second set?
Tickets were like gold dust for a pulsating contest that will live long in the memory, yet one young boy in the crowd was spotted reading a book rather than being transfixed on the action.
Novak Djokovic said he has had "enough support" from the Wimbledon crowd over the years and was not interested in complaining about it following his semifinal victory on Friday.
A significant factor of the Nadal and Federer match is that the opponents have not played each other since the 2008 Wimbledon finals. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he's serving, how much faster he finishes points.
And to think Roberto Bautista Agut gave up his stag weekend for this: a four-set, nearly three-hour clumping by Novak Djokovic.