But unlike Nadal's five-set victory in that epic encounter more than a decade ago, a match dubbed the greatest of all time, Federer reigned 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 in another classic to set up a blockbuster final with world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
Writing for the BBC, Jonathan Jurejko said: "Lengthy baseline rallies featuring flawless ground strokes, supreme athleticism belying their advancing years and scintillating winners - particularly from Federer's backhand - left the 15,000 crowd captivated".
This will be the 47th meeting all time between the two all-time greats, after Federer knocked off another one of his rivals, Rafael Nadal, in the semifnials. But the infinitely cool, eternally unflappable Swiss has got ice in his veins, ruthlessness belied by his gentlemanly disposition. And then we do.
Nadal said defeat was tough but graciously congratulated Federer on being the better player on the day.
"Then the climax at the end with the insane last game, some tough rallies there".
"Then whatever happens externally is, I guess, a effect or manifestation of that".
"The day of the test you're not going to read, I don't know, how many books that day".
Federer opened the encounter with an ace, his 43rd of the tournament.
Four-time Wimbledon victor and defending champion Djokovic enjoys a 25-22 edge in career meetings, stretching back 13 years. But Federer won the set 6-4 to take the match.
"So I just walked into the dressing room to say good luck to Roger and I said: 'What, is Rod giving you some last-minute tips on how to play left-handers?'" Who else but Nadal could attack Federer's generally unassailable forehand in such a manner as to draw one so out of character and off the mark that it landed in the third row, as happened later in that set? "I had another one [this year], and I was not able to convert to win it one more time here".
Whoever emerges as champion on Sunday, it will yet again confirm the dominance of the "Big Three" of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal.
"This has been a remarkable tournament for me and to be in another final is a dream come true", the top seed said. He dominated on many of those points, however, lethally metronomic when necessary, while Nadal double-tugged on his nose, his hair, his shirt, his shorts, his underwear.
Despite a blip in the second set, once the eight-time Wimbledon champ got the upper hand, he never looked back.
The closely fought first set, where both players held on to their serves, culminated in a tie-breaker. A second break was achieved when Federer badly framed a forehand and Nadal served for the set, holding to love, the match now level and the outcome thrown into doubt.
That was 2012 in four sets in a Wimbledon semi-final. He clung on at 3-5, saving two match points, then had a break point as Federer served for the match. "There were some brutal rallies that went my way".
"Amazing match well deserved win by @rogerfederer", the Spaniard tweeted. Then he shanked an ugly overhead smash off the edge of his racquet frame, which gave Nadal a break point glimmer.
With 18 major titles, Nadal is just two trophies behind Federer for most all time among men in the sport. "That's where the match could have gone a different way".