Associated Press

Wimbledon, June 29:

Winning with defence, two-time defending champion Roger Federer returned to the Wimbledon semi-finals by beating Fernando Gonzalez 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 on Wednesday.

Federer repeatedly ran down shots by the big-swinging Gonzalez and extended his grass-court winning streak to 34 matches, including 19 at the All England Club.

The top-ranked Federer is 96-5 since June 2004 and trying to become the third player since 1936 to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles.

His opponent in the semi-finals will be third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt. The 2002 champion advanced by beating Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.

Playing with his characteristic polish, Federer committed just 10 unforced errors, and his underrated retrieving skills were at their best in the final game of the first set. Gonzalez, serving at 5-6, hit a drop volley that bounced sideways away from Federer. Still, he sprinted from behind the baseline to reach the ball and flipped a lunging forehand winner crosscourt.

That gave Federer a set point, and when he again dashed to retrieve a shot in the corner with a running slice forehand, Gonzalez put a volley in the net.

Hewitt won the first two sets against Lopez by breaking serve in the final game, then closed out the victory with an impeccable tiebreaker. He hit 15 aces and committed just 12 unforced errors to 31 for Lopez.