July 06 | 06

Rafa powered his way past Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus on Friday evening with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 victory to advance to Sunday's final. It is the final that the tennis world hoped for, Rafa will take on world number one and the King of Grass, Roger Federer.

Rafa said earlier in the year that he would be unavailable to play in an exhibition in South Africa this weekend as he would be playing the Wimbledon final on Centre Court. Many were sceptical, but the Spaniard's determination has proved everyone wrong and his words rang true as he battled past Baghdatis after a rain delayed start on Friday.

Baghdatis was also playing in his first Wimbledon semi final and nerves got the better of the young Cypriot who has charmed the English public throughout The Championships. Baghdatis was unable to produce the high levels of tennis which saw him dispatch of Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt and Rafa raced to a 6-1 first set victory. A wonderful slice return winner from Rafa sealed the set on his first set point as he broke Baghdatis for a third time.

The real Marcos Baghdatis came out to play in the second set though, and life got very difficult for Rafa as he attempted to capitalise on his lead. Both men had chances to break serve and it was very tense towards the business end of the set with some crucial games being won and lost.
Rafa had two chances to steal the set from Baghdatis at 5-4 but Baghdatis, spurred on by the crowd, played some quality tennis to draw level. However he was unable to stop Rafa at 6-5 when the Majorcan earned himself more set points, and on his fourth a trademark forehand winner put Rafa two sets to the good.

Baghdatis continued to fight hard in the third set with the crowd willing him to make the match last longer. Both men played high quality tennis and the crowd were thoroughly entertained as both men saved break points on their serves. It was Rafa who managed to make the break points count at 2-1. A great scramble at the net saw him push back one more shot than Baghdatis and a fist pump showed his delight at having secured the crucial break of serve.

Despite more fiesty resistance from Baghdatis and plenty of break back opportunities, Rafa was able to hold onto his serve and successfully served out the match with a smash on match point. Rafa, who has now not lost his serve once in his last two matches, fell to his knees with joy at having reached his first Wimbledon final at the age of 20.

His opponent, Federer enjoyed a very comfortable passage through to the final as he dropped just four games in beating Jonas Bjorkman earlier on Friday. However he will not be pleased at learning that his opponent in the final will be Rafa. The two have met four times this year, three times in finals, and Rafa has won on every occasion. Most recently, Rafa retained his French Open crown with a four set victory over the Swiss world number one.

Federer has been the Champion the last three years at Wimbledon, is it time for him to be dethroned? Rafa's thoughts ahead of the final were: "I gonna have a very, very, very difficult match I gonna play against one of the best of the history, especially in this surface in all surface, but in this one more. So I need play my best match in my life, no, for win. So I gonna try that."
Go, Rafa!

Written by, Kate Flory