LONDON (Reuters) - A lot has happened to Andy Murray in the three years since he choked back the tears on Centre Court after a four-set defeat that handed Roger Federer the Wimbledon trophy for a seventh time.
As the home fans trooped away disappointed from a soaking wet All England Club that day, many were wondering whether the Briton, who had just lost a fourth successive major final, had what it took to get over the line when the real pressure was on.
With the pair set to meet again in Friday’s Wimbledon semi-final, however, there is no doubt who has enjoyed the better fortune since that encounter in 2012.
A short summary of the intervening period for Murray reads two grand slam titles and one Olympic gold medal, but more importantly, he has shifted a monkey from his back that had threatened to weigh him down for his whole career.
Federer, who clinched a 17th grand slam title that day, has never again tasted major success and with every passing year knows he may never get a better chance to add to his record tally of grand slams.
It is not that the Swiss has plummeted down the rankings. He has stayed at the top of the men’s game and is seeded and ranked ahead of Murray heading into Friday’s clash.
But the modern game is becoming increasingly punishing on the body and at 33 years old the clock is ticking on the Swiss maestro.
His recent record against Murray is superb. He has beaten the Briton in their last three meetings, including a humiliating 6-0 6-1 victory in their last encounter at the ATP finals in November.
That was their last meeting in London, but Murray may prefer to remember their last match on grass — three one-sided sets that secured the Olympic gold medal on Centre Court just weeks after their Wimbledon final.
“I feel like I’m playing better tennis than I was then,” the Briton said.
“I don’t think those matches that we played here in the past will have too much bearing on the outcome on Friday.”
Which is perhaps lucky for Murray. In their 23 matches, Federer leads the head-to-head 12-11 and in the six times they have faced each other on British soil, Murray trails 5-1.
The prize on offer for the winner is likely to be a final against holder and world number one Novak Djokovic, who faces unfancied Frenchman Richard Gasquet and his majestic backhand in the other last four clash.
Gasquet has only ever appeared in two previous grand slam semi-finals, losing them both, and has spent the most time on court of the four semi-finalists at 11 hours 13 minutes.
Barring a testing fourth round clash against big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, Djokovic has looked in fine form on his run to the last four.
He has also proved to be a nemesis to Gasquet throughout his career.
The 21st seeded Frenchman has won only one of 12 meetings against Djokovic and that sole success came eight years ago in 2007.
“I think Gasquet’s backhand (is one of the) best one‑handed backhands in the world,” Djokovic said.
“That’s his weapon. He has a variety. He can play really well from defence and offence. I think he’s also very skilled on the net. He improved his serve. He’s an all‑around player.”
Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Alan Baldwin