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Cilic had lost eight of his nine previous meetings with Federer, including last summer’s Wimbledon final, when the 29-year-old Croatian was reduced to tears after a painful foot blister scuppered his chances.Federer had also won their most recent encounter at the ATP Finals in London in November, though the last time they had met on the court was only last month when they practised together in the Maldives after finding out quite by chance that they were both holidaying on the islands.

“I work for these kind of matches, I work on it every day.

The watching Rod Laver was among those who got out their phones to record the occasion.

The greatest player of all time was made to work for his latest triumph but if anyone had any doubts as to whether he could repeat his extraordinary feats of last year, when he won two Grand Slam titles upon his return from a six-month break because of injury, they were surely erased here.

The Ukrainian will play for the trophy in Sunday against the winner of the high-profile semi-final between Maria Sharapova and top seed Simona Halep.

The first meeting between Svitolina and Kontaveit featured four breaks of serve in the first eight games, with the fourth-seeded defending champion snatching the early lead after 39 minutes.

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