Roger Federer is about to turn 34. And today he had one of his best serving days of his career, flying by Andy Murray 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 in a breathtaking performance on tennis’s center stage at Wimbledon.
Federer had been serving great all grass season, but today against a top-notch returner in Murray he was as devastating as ever, landing 76% of first serves winning 84% of those with 20 aces. It really wasn’t much of a match.
In the 10th game of the second set, the two battled for 15 minutes in one of the best games you will see. Murray eventually won it, saving five set points but the damage was done. Federer followed with a quick love game then finally got the break over Murray.
“I’m unbelievably happy,” Federer said after his fourth straight win over Murray. “People maybe expected it to go four or five, me as well.
“I played well in the biggest occasion today.
“I think on my serve, I’ve been serving very well the entire tournament. I don’t think I faced a break point today against one of the best returners in the game.
“I went for my shots and I was able to mix it up.”
As I said and you saw, Federer served incredibly well. Murray served good, but he just didn’t show much on offense. He was happy to let Federer attack and play the odds, hoping for errors.
“He served fantastic. Apart from the first game where I had the chance there, I didn’t really have any opportunities. That puts pressure on you,” said Murray.
“Obviously I got broken right at the end all of the sets. But I didn’t actually play a bad match. A lot of guys prefer to serve first. A lot of guys receive first. It really depends on what your preference is. The guy served unbelievable. That was the difference, not the fact that he served first.”
For Murray, there were few big forehands, fewer big backhands, few shots at the net. Had Ivan Lendl been coaching him he would have been furious with his lack of force off the ground. And the loss drops him to 1-14 vs the Big 3 since his back surgery. That’s a very serious issue going forward.
“I feel like this is my best chance to win a Slam. When I played here, I feel like it’s my best surface. I played consistently well here throughout my career. So it’s tough in that aspect,” the 28-year-old Murray said.
“I still have a few years left. I do genuinely feel like I’m improving my game, as well.”
In the early semifinal, Novak Djokovic outclassed Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. Gasquet actually played pretty well, grabbing chances early on breaking Serb in the first set, but more were had on the day.
“The first set was really close,” said Djokovic. “I thought Richard played some really good tennis, especially from the backhand side. It was really difficult for me at times to play any kind of ball to his backhand side because he was really going for it, especially down the line. He made a lot of winners. He used the chipped backhand, slice variety as well… Winning the first set tie-break was psychologically very helpful for the rest of the match.”
About the only issue Novak had was some treatment he received on his left shoulder late in the match. But it didn’t have any impact in his 10th straight win over Gasquet.
“I tried to do my best,” said Gasquet. “I played a good first set. I hit some great backhand… It was tough to do better. It was 2/2 [in the tie-break], then it was 7/2. It wasn’t good. He never miss on some returns. He serves well. That’s why he’s World No. 1.”
So it’s Federer and Djokovic for the second straight year. Djokovic has won the last two taking titles at Indian Wells and at Rome, but Federer has played him tougher than anyone the last year.
“Roger is one of the people that made me a better player,” Djokovic said. “He helped me understand what I need to do to become a better player and to win against him and win Grand Slam trophies.
“He’s so good and so consistent. He is the greatest ever. There’s not enough praise for what he does. This is where he plays his best tennis I think. It’s probably going to be the biggest challenge I can have.”
I’ll have my pick on this final later.
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