Rafael Nadal demolished rival Roger Federer in the second set of their highly-anticipated Wimbledon semi-final, leveling the match at one set all in the latest chapter of one of the greatest rivalries in sport.
Nadal broke Federer’s serve twice to comfortably win the set 6-1, with his rival notching up several unforced errors to the shock of a packed Centre Court crowd.
The Swiss star had previously edged a tight first set 7-6, winning a tense tiebreaker against his longtime Spanish rival.
The pair are underway on Centre Court in their first clash on grass since the epic final of 2008 which Nadal won in five thrilling sets.
At four hours and 48 minutes, it remains the longest, and some say greatest, Wimbledon final in history and fans will be hoping for a similarly titanic struggle between the two greats today – even though Nadal is now 33 and Federer is 37.
They showed no signs of age in a hotly-contested first set, pushing each other all the way in an engrossing battle that ended with the Swiss star winning the tiebreaker.
A host of famous faces have been welcomed into the Royal Box to watch history happen including Sir David Attenborough, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Hollywood actors Hugh Grant and Steve Carell and singer Leona Lewis.
It comes as tickets were being sold for as much as £13,000 on resale websites this morning as fans battled to get their hands on them.
Rafael Nadal came back strongly in the second set against his rival Roger Federer, winning 6-1 to level the latest match between the tennis titans
Fans reacted in shock after Roger Federer made a series of errors in the second set, losing serve twice and dropping the set 6-1
Roger Federer celebrates winning the first set against longtime rival Rafael Nadal during their men’s singles semi-final match at Wimbledon today
Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal is one of the biggest rivalries in tennis and it is renewed today as the two clash in the Wimbledon semi-finals (pictured) – the first match they have played at SW19 since the 2008 final
Nadal, left, and Federer, right, have 10 Wimbledon titles between them and the winner will face Novak Djokovic in the final
Rafael Nadal pushed his rival all the way in the first set but was edged out by Federer in front of a packed Centre Court
Mirka Federer celebrates in the stands during the semi-final match after watching her husband win the first set against Rafael Nadal
Federer’s wife Mirka, left, and Nadal’s girlfriend Xisca Perello, right, are both at Centre Court cheering on their partners today
David Beckham looked engrossed as he watched Federer and Nadal push each other all the way in a tense first set from the Royal Box
Former Manchester United football manager Alex Ferguson was among the famous faces in the Royal Box watching the titans clash today
Will Federer’s biggest fan be back in the house?
He’s known for his loud voice cutting through the chitter chatter of crowds.
And House of Commons speaker John Bercow has been no different at Wimbledon, where he has been pictured twice this week cheering on his hero Roger Federer.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow watches Roger Federer’s match on Centre Court at Wimbledon today
Mr Bercow, 56, has been seen wearing Federer-branded t-shirts and celebrating wildly at the Swiss player’s third round and quarter-final matches.
The speaker – who paid for his entry – is a former tennis prodigy himself and even wrote a book on the top players of all time in 2014, listing Federer as number one.
Although he was taking time out from political life, Mr Bercow seemed more stressed than ever during the quarter-final on Wednesday, gritting his teeth and screaming in anguish as he watched Federer.
Federer and Nadal’s storied rivalry has seen them play against each other 39 times since 2004, including 24 finals.
Nadal holds the edge overall, having beaten Federer 24 times and lost on 15 occasions.
Of the 24 finals they have played against each other, the Spaniard has won 14 and lost 10.
Despite the historic rivalry, there is is genuine respect and affection between the two players, who have the most and second most Grand Slam titles in Men’s tennis.
Federer has 20 while Nadal has 18.
However, Federer does hold the edge at Wimbledon, having beaten Nadal twice and lost once.
Entry costs £185 for a standard ticket but those all quickly sold out – but owners of ‘debenture’ tickets were free to sell them on the open market.
Wimbledon debentures cost £50,000 and give the buyer five years of exclusive access, including a seat for every day of each tournament plus entry into private lounges and restaurants.
There are only 2,500 debenture seats on Centre Court and 1,000 more on Court One – and they are the only ticket that is legally transferable.
It means buyers can try to maximise their investment by selling them on for a huge profit – with stellar matches such as Federer vs Nadal today providing the incentive for punters to part with huge sums.
Claire-Estelle Bertrand, of with Wimbledon Debentures Holders website, said efforts were being made to convince owners to keep prices ‘reasonable’ but that interest was sky high.
She told The Times: ‘The surge for semi-final tickets came when we were in the last 16 and it looked more and more likely that Rafa and Roger would play each other. We have a relationship with our debenture holders and liaise with them to try to keep the prices as reasonable as possible, whereas on other sites the seller can be someone who has bought up a load of tickets and can push the prices much higher.’
She added: ‘We only sell tickets that we actually have. The other places take the money upfront, say you’ve got a seat in a good position and you might find that you’re right up in the gods. We tell the customer the block and location and only then is the transaction confirmed.’
It is not the first time debenture tickets have appeared on resale sites for exorbitant sums.
In 2013, when Andy Murray faced Novak Djokovic in the final, a pair of seats were being offered for £71,000.
The All England Club’s commercial manager Mick Desmond added he expects big crowds for the headline games.
‘I think people will be clamouring to come in here – not just to Centre Court but just to watch it on the hill and physically be part of it,’ he said.
He added: ‘We are blessed with a golden age.’
Roger Federer, pictured at Wimbledon today, will renew his rivalry with Rafael Nadal when they face each other in the semi-final in their first meeting on grass for 11 years
Nadal, left on Wednesday, and Federer, right earlier today, have not played each other at Wimbledon since the 2008 final which is often described as the greatest in the history of the tournament
Federer was all smiles as he walked into the All England Club this morning, pictured, despite the huge pressure on him
Tickets are being offered for vast sums of money on resale sites, including Viagogo, pictured, where a single ticket is on offer for more than £11,000
The pair battled in the longest Wimbledon final ever in 2008, pictured, at four hours and 48 minutes, won by Nadal
Tickets on Viagogo are selling from £7,000 to £12,000 today, pictured
The club added it did not object to debenture tickets being sold on for a profit and added the sale of debentures helps keep down prices for regular tickets.
A spokesman for the Met Office said Wimbledon attendees could expect some sunshine in the morning with a few showers later in the day.
‘The showers will continue into the first part of the afternoon with a 20% chance of it causing some disruption,’ he said.
‘It will clear away to the middle of the afternoon leaving the rest of the day dry and bright.
‘It will be slightly cooler and breezier day than the last few days with a maximum temperature of 24C (75.2F).’
Sir David Attenborough is among those in the Royal Box today and spent time chatting to former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, pictured together
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was also in the Royal Box today, pictured
Jovial: Hugh Grant, 58, was every inch the suave star as he and wife Anna Eberstein, 40, led the star-studded arrivals on day 11 of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in south-west London on Friday.
Happy couple: Declan Donnelly was also enjoying the summer weather as he stepped out with wife Ali (left) while Damian Lewis was also in attendance with wife Helen McCrory