Roger Federer out-aced and out-played Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Novak Djokovic unravelled Bautista Agut in a four set victory and reached the Wimbledon final to defend his title.
The stage is set for an edge of the seat thriller between the Maestro and Djokovic.
After a grueling semi-final against Nadal, however, will Federer’s old bones manage to outlast Djokovic at the Wimbledon final?
Djokovic has a point to prove.
Djokovic, as pointed out by the outspoken Kyrgios, will do whatever it takes to be liked as much as Roger Federer. What can help his cause better than to beat Federer at the biggest stage in tennis? Beating Roger, in the WImbledon final, again will earn him the respect of the fans worldwide. He has been the neglected child of tennis and has a point to prove. Claiming Federer’s scalp, he believes, will show the world that he deserves as much, if not more, love and respect as Federer and Nadal.
Djokovic’s retrieving ability will be his best ally against Federer
Djokovic’s ability to change direction from the backhand wing and his return of serve match his legendary retrieving abilities. His backhand, however, can falter and the returns may miss there mark, but he can always rely on his rock-solid retrieving abilities. He can out-Nadal even Nadal at grinding and, when all else fails, rely unquestioningly on his ultimate strength – grinding and retrieving.
With all their athletic and shot-making abilities, both Nadal and Djokovic are retrievers and grinders to the core. Their exceptional retrieving abilities coupled with the slower courts and balls have helped them win multiple Wimbledon titles.
If Federer plays like he played against Nadal, then Djokovic’s only way out would be to frustrate Roger by putting more balls into play. Will he be able grind Federer into frustration and errors or, will Roger’s aggression prevent Djokovic from prolonging rallies?
Federer versus Djokovic
Federer is the master of the game and Novak the quintessential super-athlete. Djokovic has leveraged his athleticism to excel at tennis but lacks the natural shot-making flair and tennis-talent of Roger.
- Shot making: If Federer, as against Nadal, finds his “zen and calm” and relaxes into his own, then he can run away with the match. The spectators, in such a scenario, would be treated to a dazzling spectacle of shot-making.
- Retrieving: No one surpasses Novak at retrieving. Novak and Nadal are also exceptional at coming up with amazing stuff with their backs to the wall. If Novak settles into a retrieving frenzy then Federer will have to finish every point at least three times to win it once.
- Serve: If Roger serves as well as he did in the last two rounds then Novak will be hard pressed to save his own service games. Federer, however, has not served consistently well through any match, except in the one against Matteo Berrettini. One bad service game each set would be enough for Novak to gain the edge.
- Return of serve: Novak is the greatest aggressive returner of the serve and, therefore, is very effective in break-points. He is not as consistent with his returns as Federer but is fearless in attacking the serve. Federer must be exceptionally alert at 30-30 and in break-points.
- Walkabout virus: The walkabout virus infects Federer, at least once, when in the lead. The virus doesn’t discriminate and infects Federer at least once every match. Roger even went walkabout against Nadal in the second set, after taking the first in the tie break. His lapse in focus resulted in numerous mistimed hits and unforced errors. He, however, was sensible enough to regain composure and right the ship in the third. Novak is better at exploiting such lapses. He may not allow Federer to recover from the debilitating effects of the walkabout virus.
Will Federer’s old bones outlast Djokovic at the Wimbledon final?
Conclusion: Roger, except in the second, played exceptionally well against Nadal. If Roger can recreate the performance then he will enjoy an upper hand against Novak. Nadal was quite vocal about Roger’s performance in the after-match interview. “He is always able to do the most difficult things easily,” said Nadal. “He’s able to move inside the court quicker than anyone. He puts pressure on the opponent all the time because he has the ability to take the ball earlier than anybody else. That’s probably the most difficult thing to make happen and he is able to do it so well.”
Roger is better at serve, shot-making, creativity, forehand, and the net. He is also in as good a form as Novak. Federer’s return of serve is more consistent while Novak’s more aggressive, and Roger’s backhand, while not as consistent as Novak’s, is more versatile. Retrieving is the only aspect were Novak has an unmatched edge on Roger. The slower center court and balls favor retrievers and grinders, like Simona. Novak is even better than Simona at retrieving and grinding.
Novak, if he wins, will owe his win to – his only real advantage over Roger – retrieving and grinding. We, however, will settle for Roger over Novak in 5.