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.