RAFAEL NADAL hailed Roger Federer after losing to the Swiss star in their thrilling Wimbledon semi-final.
Second seed Federer beat Nadal 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 on centre court to keep his hopes of a 21st Grand Slam alive.
Nadal made him wait for victory in a tense final game at SW19 but Federer ran out a deserved winner in a match high on quality.
And Nadal took to Twitter to congratulate his rival and as he admitted the better player won.
He wrote: “Amazing match well deserved win by @rogerfederer I had some chances but… Roger played better. Good luck for the final @Wimbledon 2019. Thanks all for the support. Always fantastic to be here. See you next year!”
Federer, 37, was equally gracious in victory as he was quick to pay tribute to his opponent.
“I’m exhausted. It was tough – at the end Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match,” he said.
“I had spells where I was serving very well and probably the biggest points in the match went my way.
“That first set was huge, to get the lead and try to protect it. It was a joy to play.”
Federer will now face Novak Djokovic in the final as looks to make it nine Wimbledon titles.
With eight already, he has more than any other player and one more win will match Martina Navratilova’s haul in the women’s singles.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is chasing his fifth Wimbledon crown and said he was delighted to reach another final after beating Roberto Bautista Agut in the last four.
“This has been the dream tournament for me since I was a child,” he said.
“So to be in another final is a dream come true. Regardless of the history and many finals I’ve played, playing finals at Wimbledon is something different so I’ll definitely enjoy that experience.
“I had to dig deep. It’s the semi-finals and Roberto was playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. He was not overwhelmed.
“He played really well. He was managing his nerves in the first set but later on he established himself and started to play better.
“I got a bit tight. It was a close opening four or five games of the third set – that’s where the match could have gone a different way. I’m glad it went my way.”