Roger Federer will meet Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon decider after defeating Rafael Nadal in an enthralling semifinal that brought back memories of their epic encounter 11 years ago.

The pair last met at the All England Club in 2008 when Nadal won a five-set final in what many consider to be one of the greatest tennis matches ever played. While it was a different result on Saturday morning, the standard was just as high.

In a dramatic match full of crazy momentum shifts, Federer impersonated a much younger man, showing off sublime court coverage and impeccable footwork as he went to another level — a level that was necessary against an opponent like Nadal who made the 37-year-old work for every point.

The engrossed Centre Court crowd was treated to something special as the Swiss maestro overpowered his longtime rival in four sets 7-6 1-6 6-3 6-4. Nadal was exceptional, but Federer was just that little bit better.

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At different stages of the match, both players looked as though they were about bomb out. Federer won the first set — the most closely contested of the clash — in a tiebreak but then fell apart in the second, winning just one game as fans and commentators questioned what was going on.

Then he did a complete 180 and came out swinging in the third set, hitting everything flush, being aggressive and hitting with tremendous depth and accuracy. It was simply phenomenal tennis from the 20-time grand slam winner as Aussie great Pat Cash lauded his revival as "absolutely stunning".

Earlier, Nadal wrestled the upper hand back Roger Federer in a brutal second-set comeback after the Swiss star clinched the opener in a tiebreak.

Nadal secured the first break of the match to go up 3-1 in the second as Federer failed to win a point in his worst service game of the day.

The Spaniard pounced, holding serve then breaking again as the Fed Express lost his way. After a brilliant opening to the contest, Federer tripped midway through the second set and Nadal wasn't going to let the rare opportunity slip, showing off his ruthless side to win the set 6-1 and square things up at one set apiece.

Federer's level dropped significantly, going off the boil and looking nothing like the man he was in the first set.

There was an eerie quiet around Centre Court when the blockbuster kicked off as the tension affected more than just the players.

But neither Federer nor Nadal showed any nerves as they produced a spellbinding level of tennis in the first set which Federer won 7-6 (7-3) in a tiebreak.

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Both players were outstanding in what was largely a mistake-free opening as they showed just why, even well into their 30s, they're a cut above the rest of the circuit.

Federer held his first two games in quick time and Nadal was also doing it easy off his own racquet. The Swiss dropped just three points in his opening four service games while Nadal conceded a mere two points in his opening three service games.

Federer had a break point to go up 5-3 in the opener but as he and Nadal danced around the court in a long rally, the 37-year-old caved first and hit a backhand into the net to give the Spaniard a reprieve.

Nadal won the next two points to escape the awkward situation and level things up at 4-4 and the match continued on serve with neither man able to grab the upper hand.

Down 6-5, Nadal looked certain to take the set to a tiebreak but from 40-0 up he lost the next three points as Federer went on the offensive, blasting a winner to take things to deuce. "This has come out of nowhere. This is now a battle for Nadal," one BBC commentator said.

But Nadal kept his composure with some clutch serves to ensure we got that breaker and won the first point by showing incredible court speed to reach a ball he had no right to hit.

But Federer roared to life, coming back from two mini-breaks and winning the set with a cracking forehand winner.