I’ll be honest, as I write this opening graph I still haven’t settled on who’ll win tomorrow’s delicious Wimbledon men’s final between the two best in the world, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
A year ago, Federer wasn’t playing this good and still nearly got Djokovic in a 5-set thriller. Now, after waxing Andy Murray (again), the 33-year-old Federer appears somehow to be in his best form in quite a while, serving about as well as he ever has – only dropping serve once during this fortnight.
Djokovic has been quietly on song as well. Aside from a blip against Kevin Anderson at the start of the week 2, no one has taken a set from Novak and yesterday he looked very sharp in a routine win over Richard Gasquet.
Roger is playing better of the two this event. But Novak is the world No. 1 and is the defending champion. And he has to want to make up for his French loss to the Other Swiss.
So decisions, decisions.
Head-to-head, Federer leads 20-19 but Novak has won three of the last five, losing in the semifinals in Shanghai and again in the Dubai final.
In Slams, it’s 6-6, and the two have split their two Wimbledon finals. Novak’s been so good against so many players lately but Roger and his countryman seem to have his number.
Breaking down the strokes there’s also not much to choose.
Serve: Edge Federer
Net Game: Edge Federer
Forehand: Edge Federer
Backhand: Edge Djokovic
Return: Edge Djokovic
Overhead: Edge Federer
Crowd: Edge Federer
Speed: Edge Djokovic
Surface: Edge Federer
So that’s a lot of checks for Roger. But this match really comes down to Federer’s serve against Novak’s return game. If Roger serves like he did against Murray – with power, placement and at a high clip – he’ll win, regardless of how well Novak returns.
But I think Federer served so well because he has a comfort with Murray. That same comfort doesn’t necessarily exist with Djokovic. So Roger will feel a little more pressed. Plus, off the ground in rallies Djokovic won’t play as passively as Murray did yesterday.
Still, I really feel like this is it for Federer. This is his last chance at another Slam and another Wimbledon (and I probably said this last year). Roger’s also proven to be a better big match player over time, especially at Wimbledon. While Djokovic, who’s just 8-8 in Slam finals, hasn’t been consistently as strong.
And I while I think Djokovic is a great player, I don’t think he’s a great grass player. This is Roger’s best surface and his favorite court. It’s where he won his first Slam and it will likely be the place where he wins his last.
The pick: Federer in five
With the way Federer is serving and their recent head-to-head (Federer’s won a set in nine of their last 10), I can’t see Novak winning in straight sets. That said, Roger could get hot, get on a run and take it in three.
But I think this will go back-and-forth, nip-and-tuck and will end up in a 4 or 5 set classic. At least I hope.
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