And we are down to just TWO! And what a two they are with the game’s greats, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, battling for the greatest prize in all of tennis: the Wimbledon Championships.
With Rafael Nadal and defending champion Andy Murray long fallen, it’s Federer and Djokovic’s job to continue the Fab Four reign at Wimbledon.
I picked Federer at the start of the tournament and while in my mind Djokovic should win here – he’s younger, the better player top-down, the higher ranked – I have to stick with Federer.
Roger knows the grass. It’s his surface. He has 14 titles on God’s green earth compared to Djokovic’s lonesome one. Federer also beat Djokovic at Wimbledon two years ago and this fortnight he has looked the far better of the two. And he’s won nine straight from the start of Halle.
Djokovic, though, has had the tougher draw and with it the more impressive wins. The top seed beat four pretty decent opponents in Radek Stepanek, Gilles Simon, JW Tsonga, Marin Cilic and yesterday Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer really had no one to worry about until the semifinals against Milos Raonic who basically froze up playing the 7-time champion on Center Court.
That said, Djokovic has looked shaky at times. Those lapses I spoke so much about early in the year are back. We saw them in the Cilic match and again yesterday against Dimitrov who squandared break leads not once but twice in sets. Meanwhile, Federer has been effeciant and effective as ever.
Head-to-head Federer holds the slim 18-16 lead having won two of three this year. Surprisingly they played just once before in a Grand Slam final and just once on a grass court, both matches won by Federer.
In this one there’s added intrigue. Djokovic has Boris Becker at his side. Federer counters with Stefan Edberg. Edberg won two of three against Becker at Wimbledon. Advantage: Edberg!
Coaching aside, the match, though, will hinge on the serve. The player who serves the best will win. Right now the guy who’s been doing that is Federer. Roger’s been in rythym losing serve just once this fortnight. And he’s also smartly mixing in the serve and volley. While I expect him ease off the net rushes against Djokovic, I think he’ll still be in attack mode. He’ll have to be.
And I’m also not sure of Djokovic’s state of mind. He lost in the French final and overall he’s lost five of his last six Grand Slam finals. That’s not a good trend. What’s worse is he’s winning the other titles but just can’t seem win the Slams. Clearly there’s something going on. Something just isn’t right. And he knows it.
Still, Djokovic is good enough to keep it close. And he won’t be overwhelmed by the moment like Raonic was. The motivation is there and so is the hunger, and to salvage the season he needs to start winning titles again.
Will his mind let him?
Djokovic just beat Baby Fed, but I don’t think he beats the Real Fed.
The pick: Federer in 5
ESPN will have live coverage starting at 9am. It’s breakfast with champions.
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