I had a more extended and thoughtful post in mind for this massive match tomorrow between the eight and four-time Wimbledon champs Federer and Djokovic.
It’s late here, I’ve been at a soccer tournament all day, eating and drinking-in all of the fun of that kind of event, but the Wimbledon final tomorrow weighs on my mind like a lie or a revelatory truth.
The videos above of all four semi-finalists are simply brilliant.
Beginning with Djokovic, his class and confidence are sobering.
What a pleasure to have Bautista Agut in the final four for his tennis and his modesty.
Rafa is both humble in his loss and inspiring for his patience and generosity with the press. His description of why and how Roger beat him is a line of reasoning for HRFRT.
He’s always able to do the most difficult things easy . . . He’s able to move inside the court quicker than anyone . . . He puts pressure on his opponent all the time, with the ability to take the ball early — the most difficult thing to do.
Later in the interview he reinforces our take here with respect to beating Roger and the difficulty he had with his BH and, subsequently, his FH:
Not through the speed of the ball you will make him miss . . .To open the court against him . . . have to put him out of position.
Listen to the interview yourself. Great stuff from the Spaniard. Like Djokovic, Bautista and Federer, truly a class act.
Federer, likewise in his interview, a true gentleman. Nothing new here, folks, but a good exercise for the tennis fan if one is interested in the top of the game, the historical and competitive genius of the present game that helps explain this insane level of sport to which we’re witness, in abundance.
No need to go into the numbers here, but the dominance is hard to comprehend, really. It’s not the end of the sport, or something so absurd as that, but you can see where I came up with the HRFRT thesis.
Let’s get to this final tomorrow.
I did not say anything about the Djokovic v RBA SF. You have seen it, no?
Indeed, Novak had some difficulty, but like most of his “difficult” matches, especially Bo5, he has plenty of time to solve whatever riddle troubles his genius. As much as RBA had a real chance there, especially in the third set, to move this considerably to his advantage, rarely does the Serb allow such nuisance to overcome his schedule.
I won’t discount completely the difficulty he had at times against this particular Spaniard, but Novak, for the knowing viewership, still had the match under control.
RBA’s form in the first set made this even more of a reality. He was awful, going down 0-3 and barely showing his face there in the first set. Very nice and a bit predictable to see him gather himself, but this seemed a foregone conclusion before the match and even more so by the end of the first set.
None the less, the Serb played that sort of form that probably attracts as much criticism as it does applause. The man is free to talk to his demons, which includes the crowd at times. He fights through these difficulties, these lost games, sets, the loss of form that can plague one of the cleanest games in the business. He finds his way eventually.
Part of that interview above includes him pointing-out that he has faced Federer on Centre Court, knows what to expect. We know of what he speaks: 2014 and 2015.
Federer has certainly had his recent struggles against an ascendant Serb.
And this trend seems on the outset to continue tomorrow in the 2019 Wimbledon final, especially given the emotional high Federer just endured in beating Nadal in their SF match.
Here’s the turn in this post to the author’s final take as I wrap this and head to bed:
As dominant as the Serb has been in recent years, really has been the true #1 on tour over the last five years despite some monster dips in form (see: Djokollapse), he’s still behind.
What does that mean? You know exactly what that means. In fact, Novak says himself in that interview above that aside from the love of the game, the reason he’s playing is about certain accomplishments and he says, point blank, that the number of majors sits atop his to-do list.
He has been dominating the tour, folks, beating Nadal and Federer seemingly every chance he gets.
Yet he’s still trailing in said majors, in general consensus actually.
Look at Wimbledon, for instance. He has four titles compared to Roger’s eight. Of course, he trails Roger by five in overall majors, 20-15.
What this means is Novak has to win tomorrow. Not only will he probably win, but he has to. A loss to Federer here would badly wound this athlete and his fans’ hearty race to the top of the proverbial mountain.
This match is a tough call, honestly. On the one hand, not tough at all: Djokovic’s grass literacy and class (along with all of that other exceptional level of competitive brilliance) should be too much for Federer, especially in terms of Federer winning three sets.
I want to think that the last time that Roger beat Novak was in the RR of the 2015 WTF. I’m right (Novak ended-up beating Roger in the final of that tournament 63 64).
Novak beat him in the U.S. Open final in four sets a month before those WTF matches. And beat him pretty handily in the Wimbledon final in 2015, as well, in four sets.
That was a while ago, yet we still sense Novak’s recent dominance of Roger. His most recent victories over the Swiss concern last year’s Cincinnati final, where Novak secured his golden Masters (the only player to win all nine of the ATP Masters titles) and the final of the 2018 Paris Masters, outlasting Federer 76(6) 57 76(3).
An interesting (for me) omission from this storied rivalry is any match during 2017. This, of course, marks the rise of Fedičić, a steam-rolling version of Federer in terms of the improved attacking BH and a more stable business-end efficiency that highlighted Federer’s 2017 and early 2018 dominance, accounting for, among other titles, three major championships.
Djokovic dodged this demon. I recall a fairly timely Djokovic loss at 2017 IW to Kyrgios in R16 that prevented a meeting then between these two legends.
What’s my point?
Do we get, finally, this meeting tomorrow in a 2019 Wimbledon final?
Federer looks good, I have to say. Good enough to beat Djokovic in a five setter, in a context that brings-out the best in the Serb?
In that interview above, Federer actually pin-points the shot of Djokovic that sets him apart. It’s the shot wide to the ad court, Djoker’s BH.
Federer clearly says that this player’s ability to go wide there, leaping and reaching, plant his feet, and turn on that shot, transitioning from a seemingly desperate defense to a dangerous offense is utterly exceptional, purely Djokovician.
He and we know how tough Novak is and why he very much could beat Roger in three or four in tomorrow’s final.
We had, in our final say, a five setter in the Federer v Nadal match, and we, as we said, leaned Nadal in that scenario.
This one feels more like a four setter to me.
I want to reiterate that Novak winning in three doesn’t seem out-of-the-ordinary. He’s rested, hasn’t really been tested — we ought to acknowledge that he hasn’t even faced a top 20 player in this tournament, yet.
Plus Federer just had a very emotional and exhausting win over Nadal in the SF and has never beaten both Nadal and Djokovic (I’m told) en route to a major championship.
Furthermore (and to reiterate), Djokovic really has to win this. If you’re a Djoker-fangirl you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Having said all of that, I like a massive upset tomorrow. Just because (it won’t happen, mind you, because then my thesis HRFRT which as yet to hit the bookshelves would already promise massive sales, readership, a cultish following, celebrity bedlam for Mcshow, etc.). Seems to be happening.
I like the flow in Federer’s game right now and the statement the Swiss hopes to make on Centre Court tomorrow, a message all should hear and enjoy.
My prediction is as risky as is this tennis great’s game. Probably flawed in the end.
But I’m taking Federer in this one.
10 thoughts on “Wimbledon Final Preview”
Roger beat Novak on Centre Court in 4 sets in 2012 SF 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3. He went on to win that title against Murray also in 4 sets 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4. Though that was a long time ago.
Roger led in aces 25-10, had 3 DF less, had better 1st serve %, had better 1st and 2nd serve win%, had better net points won %, had better % on BPs, had better % on receiving points, had 40 nore winners and only 9 more errors, won 15 more points in total. There is no single statistic of importance that Fed wasn’t better at except the most important one, he didn’t win those few most important points in TBs
Good stuff. Indeed, the TBs (all three) were simply bad stretches for Federer
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This match in some unusual way cemented maybe 2 completely opposite though complementary things, Novak is the best player today but Federer is the GOAT (whatever that means). Unfortunately (maybe) this second thing is something that probably no one is going to remember from this match. This match was like some glorified Hall of Fame, Legends end of career statement from Roger and because of the result no one is going to remeber it in that way, sad…
The body of this match, add his run to this final, beating Nadal, etc., is complicated, rich, etc., but people and history tend to simplify, especially when we have the efficiency of numbers in this sport. You saw the numbers in terms of Federer’s SF and F appearances at SW19, astounding longevity and consistency, the we all know which numbers really count.
History will be very clear on that .
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It’s silly how if Fed won one of those 2 MPs this would be called one of his greatest performances in career (this match and this tournament altogether) but it won’t be now, sad..
Djokovic pulled it out but your gut feeling about Roger was dead on. Fed played some of the best tennis he has ever played, and his deeper, flatter OHBH in addition to the slice OHBH he has relied on his entire career gives Fed an offensive shot he has never had.
I’m a Djoker fan and am thrilled he won, but Fed’s play was truly impressive. He outplayed Djokovic on the whole. The difference was that Djokovic outplayed Federer on the handful of points that decided the match: in the tiebreaks, when Fed was serving with double championship point, and on the other break points Djokovic faced in the 5th set.
Djoker’s break of Fed’s serve down 3-4 in the 4th set was crucial; he still lost the set but he hadn’t even had a break point to that point in the match, much less converted one. Fed had been a machine on serve, and that break gave Djokovic the confidence that Fed could be broken even though Fed was playing out of his mind.
Good stuff, Matthew.
Nice that you can see and appreciate the other side of the net, too (though having your guy win does make that a little easier 😉
Federer was just the much lesser player in those crucial spots despite Djokovic seeming the lesser player point-to-point, through out much of the match.
About Djoko`s performance:
This was the worst play of a grand slam contender for at least the last 10 year. it was the same subpar level of tennis he showed vs Thiem (semifinal) at RG2019 and versus Batista Agut at Wimby 2019 (semifinal).
At the same time it is sport and sometimes not the best player wins a match. For e.g. Djoko did not deserve to beat Nadal on last year`s Wimby final although his performance was much stellar and the match closer. On the other side Djoko has suffered so much for years from rigged draws by tennis mafia on majors and master tournaments where he needed to play “finals” before the finals themselves. His 2-year slump was a result from rigged draws where he needed to meet fresh “dark horses” in almost top shape (coming back from a long recovery breaks) like Kyrgios and Del Potro in several tournaments in a row. he level was insane then but he was playing and winning every tournament on Earth and fatigue accumulated was just enough to loose versus such big hitters. Tennis mafia did not want a Serbian (eastern Europeans are considered 2nd hand immigrants in Western Europe doing all dirt jobs there) to be GOAT in such an aristocratic sport. Without the slump he would have already been the GOAT with the most majors. The people who benefited the most from the slum were Fed and Nadal. So to balance things out universe is providing us with the yesterday`s outcome.
Reasons for Djoko`s poor form at later stages at RG and Wimby 2019:
1. During 2010-2011 phenomenal seasons Djoko was using a so-called space-egg device which increased the number of his white blood cells (as if been at high altitude) and made him breathe better when playing at lower altitude tournaments. Later when this was stated an illegal advantage he switched to a gluten free diet. Until this moment there were times when he was matching if not outlasting/out powering Nadal, Del Potro and the likes. Then it came Pepe Imas with his interpretations of ancient Ayurvedic tips on diet. Ayurveda prescribes for anorexic and lean/skinny people like Djoko oily, warm food,, any meat ,diary, cooked grains. Unfortunately Pepep Imas` understanding (ancient ayurvedic diet tips are not well translated and understood by many western people) of a good diet was to cut all meat for Nole and much of diary. He even cut the chicken and fish from the menu. So Nole began looking less powerful the last few years. red meat is needed for longer muscle work and white is mostly for elasticity of body/weight control/loss. He cut his ties with spiritual guru Pepe Imas but some of his teachings/beliefs (diet) still affect his performance. No wander very few vegans try to climb Everest.No energy… Vegan menu is perfect for regular weight people that practice sport as a hobby. He must bring back red meat in his diet and this was advised by famous doctors as well.
You cannot always win the big points in finals while playing sloppy the whole match. Sooner or later luck and this skill alone will not be enough.
2. Whole stadium was against him while playing B. Agut at the semifinal and Fed at the final. Becker confirmed this has troubled him in the past.Did you noticed He did not perform his “after match ritual” of giving the public love from the sky (God) for the 1st time since no one was happy of the outcome…
About Fed`s performance
This match was similar to Fed vs Roddick at Wimby 2009 final. Roddick deserved the win better but melted under pressure multiple times , not just the 5th set and maybe destiny is paying back to someone else like Djoko what Fed took back then.
It is not the 1st time Fed wastes 2 match points vs Jokovic. There were 2 notorious semifinals at US Open years ago when many suspected that not the pressure was catching him but he was trying to avoid Nadal at the final and so protect his h2h in majors with him.
With yesterday`s performance Fed can be a contender for every event at least for few more years!
Good stuff, Elmar but the tennis mafia/rigged draw hypothesis is BS. If you argue the audience of Centre Court don’t want him to win (or NYC), fine. But this conspiracy against Novak theory is a joke considering he’s at the top of the sport. Appreciate his success. Why complain after he’s won. Ha ha.