London, Aug 4 (IANS/RIA Novosti): Swiss World No.1 Roger Federer has survived a marathon semifinal in his quest to win a singles gold medal at the London Olympics tennis tournament and set up a dream final clash against Briton Andy Murray, who defeated second seeded Serb Novak Djokovic.
Top seed Federer needed four hours, 26 minutes to defeat Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, the eighth seed, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17 Friday. The match was the longest three-set match in the history of Open Era, reports Xinhua.
In a closely fought match, Federer won 186 points to Del Potro'S 180, and Federer had two match points, the second of which he converted.
Del Potro had won only two of their previous 14 meetings, and the players had met only once before on grass, at Wimbledon 2007, when Federer won in straight sets.
Home hope and third seed Murray defeated Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 in exactly two hours. The final, scheduled for Sunday, will be a repeat of this year's Wimbledon final, which Federer won in four sets. It is the only match of the London 2012 tournament that will be best of five sets.
The bronze medal match, also scheduled to be played Sunday, will be Del Potro versus Djokovic.
In women's semifinals, Russia's third seed Maria Sharapova defeated compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3 in their first meeting on grass. Sharapova now has a 4-2 winning record over Kirilenko.
London 2012 is Sharapova's Olympic Games debut, and she was Russia's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.
Serena Williams, the fourth seed, defeated top seed Victoria Azarenka from Belarus. Williams, who won her fifth Wimbledon title July 7, served 16 aces as Azarenka, the 2012 Australian Open champion, struggled to find her rhythm.
Azarenka saved three match points at 5-1, 40-0 down and held serve to pull back to 5-2. But Williams served out to take the match 6-1, 6-2 and reach her first singles final at her third Olympic Games.
In men's doubles semifinals, second seeds Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a marathon on Court No.1, as they were locked in a tussle lasting three hours, 29 minutes. They finally overcame David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez of Spain at 6-3, 4-6, 18-16. The final set lasted two hours, 22 minutes.
By contrast, the other semifinal was a brief run-through for American top seeds Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan, who needed less than an hour to defeat Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4.
The Bryan twins have been playing as a pair professionally since 1998; they won their last meeting with the Frenchmen on clay at Monte Carlo in 2007.
In women's doubles semifinals, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, the fourth seeds, defeated top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond of the United States 6-1, 7-6 (2). The American pair, who won the 2011 US Open, defeated the Czechs in their only previous encounter on grass at Eastbourne last year.
The other semifinal, Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova versus Venus Williams and Serena Williams, was postponed to Saturday.