It’s a 1v2 seeded final at Wimbledon Sunday across the pond as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer renew their rivalry. It’s been a while since these two have played in a Grand Slam – 2016 Australian Open. While the Roger-Rafa rivalry gets all the headlines, these two titans have “quietly” met more times in a Slam than any other pair.
Their Open Era record 16th Slam meeting will either take Federer to 21 or Djokovic to 16. Take your pick! Here’s mine:
Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer
In the Slams and in just about every relevant category (hard, grass, clay, indoor, outdoor, finals), Djokovic leads Federer. Overall, he’s up 25-22 and in Slams it’s 9-6, plus 3-1 in Slam finals and 2-1 at Wimbledon.
He’s also nearly six years younger than Federer which, I think, is important because after Friday’s matches, Novak may be a tiny bit fresher than Fed who must have exhausted a lot in that incredible win over Rafael Nadal (and let’s not forget Fed played the clay season!).
So now the task for Roger is to beat Nadal and then beat Djokovic, a feat he’s never done before in consecutive matches. So could he possibly do that at almost 38 years of age? Why not! Anything seems to be possible in this extended era of the “Tennis Gods”.
Federer showed Friday that age is indeed just a number, doing something he was unable to do 11 years ago by beating Rafa on grass.
Rafa, though, hasn’t been as proficient on the lawn as he has been on hard courts and of course clay. Djokovic, however, has no issues on any surface.
The Serb has won his last 13 matches on grass and so far this week, has been in fine form. He’s also won four Wimbledon titles and the only guy to beat him a Slam final the last five years is Stan Wawrinka (0-2 v Stan, 9-0 v everyone else). And in that “Everyone Else” groupin, Novak has wins over Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro, Kevin Anderson, two over Andy Murray and two over Federer.
That’s right, the last two times they met at Wimbledon, Djokovic beat Fed in four sets, winning the first set, dropping the second, then taking the last two to win the title. And I think we’ll see a similar pattern Sunday because Djokovic is just a tougher matchup for Roger on grass than Rafa is.
Djokovic’s return of serve, court positioning and speed is really going to neutralize Roger’s serve and attack game.
That said, Roger played really well against Rafa. And with the crowd now back to being fully on his side, if he can reproduce what he did against Nadal, he can absolutely pull the upset.
The problem is, I just don’t think Djokovic will allow it.
While Federer is chasing his own history, so too is Djokovic. Novak lost a chance in a bad match to Dominic Thiem at the French, and now he’s got to be focused on getting another Wimbledon and getting that much closer to Federer, and beating him in the process!
Novak’s No. 1, he’s won three of the last four Slams and he’s hasn’t lost to Federer in 4.5 years since the 2014 ATP Finals and in a Slam in 7 years. So…
The Pick: Djokovic in 4
And that will put an end to yet another Grand Slam.
While the women’s tour is doing away with Serena, Venus and Maria, the men’s tour is still fully and totally dominated by the Big 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. And it continues this week and it probably will this summer and at the US Open, and who knows how much longer…
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