By Soladoye Samuel
The “Mecca” of tennis sport is ready for the crowning of its “KING” and this year, the men’s singles title remains in familiar hands.
Prior to the semi-final clashes, each between a man representing the “”PRESENT” and the other, a younger racquet dubbed the “FUTURE”, Miss S. Clarke would have been forgiven if she had attempted to invite Future to perform a version of The Offspring’s “The Future is Now” but it was far from necessary; THE FUTURE MUST WAIT.
The final of the men’s singles will be contested by two men who know what it feels like to be pronounced KING at the All England Club and sip some champagne from the trophy; it’s NOVAK DJOKOVIC against ROGER FEDERER.
This piece offers you an analysis on their different paths to the finals, stats relevant to their cause as well as a succinct statement in respect of the rivalry between these two greats among many other interesting details.
Wimbledon, the Championships, is the oldest tournament in the history of the tennis sport and remains the only grand slam played on the sport’s original surface; grass. The fast nature of the surface as well as the low bounce encourages aggressive attacking play and reduces, though recently to a little extent, the importance attached to the modern tennis’ need for a great level of efficiency from the baseline.
Note: R round, i.e.1R= 1st round, QF= quarter-finals. SF= semi-finals, F= final
ROUTE TO THE FINAL:
The Nole who is No. 2 on the ATP World rankings, thanks to the special seeding procedure at Wimbledon, came into the tournament seeded no. 1. The Serb saw off the challenges of Andrey Golubev, (1R; 6-0, 6-1, 6-4) Gilles Simon (3R; 6-4, 6-2, 6-4) and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (4R; 6-3, 6-4, 7-6)in straight sets.
He came through in four sets against Radek Stepanek (2R; 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6) and Grigor Dimitrov (SF; 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6) while he was stretched to five sets by Marin Cilic (QF; 6-1, 3-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2)
The Swiss ranked No. 4 in the world and seeded fourth is another beneficiary of the special seeding procedure which saw him seeded ahead of countryman and friend, Stan Wawrinka, who is currently ranked as No. 3 on the ATP World rankings.
The greatest champion at the All England Club overcame the challenges of Paolo Lorenzi (1R; 6-1, 6-1, 6-3), Gilles Muller (2R, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3), Santiago Giraldo (3R, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3), Tommy Robredo (4R, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4) as well as Milos Raonic (SF; 6-4, 6-4, 6-4) in straight sets. The sternest test thus far came in form of a four-set triumph over Stan Wawrinka (QF; 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4)
The imminent clash on Centre Court on Sunday is the 35th meeting between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the Swiss holds a slim advantage going into Sunday’s final. He leads 18-16. It is however closer if their match record at majors is put into consideration. The Swiss still leads though; 6-5. The two have met just once on grass and it came in form of a semi-final clash on Centre court in 2012 with Federer triumphing in four sets. Their record at Wimbledon therefore stands at 1-0 in favour of the Basel native.
The two have only faced each other in the final of just one grand slam event and this was at the US Open in 2007 which Roger Federer won in straight sets. However, it should be noted that that final marked Novak Djokovic’s first appearance in the final of a grand slam and it is manifestly clear that it’s a different Novak Djokovic. In 2014, the two have net on three occasions. On the 28th of February, Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic at the semi-finals in Dubai on his way to being the eventual champion. Vengeance came in sweeter fashion for Novak Djokovic as beat Federer to the crown at Indian Wells on the 16th of March. The duo met again at the Monte Carlo Masters in the semi-finals with Federer winning in three sets; Roger Federer leads 2-1.
Most pundits out there will tell you that Federer’s chance of winning another major is higher at SW19 than any other major and maybe the man himself knows it. He is regarded by many as the greatest player on grass and his haul of a record 14 grass-court titles says it all. Federer holds a 17-7 record in grand slam finals while the Serbian holds a 6-7 record in finals of majors.
Both men have had to wait for a while in the bid to add to their tally of grand slam titles. Since his triumph at the 2013 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic has contested in 5 majors without a win even though he made to the final of 3 of these 5 majors.
His opponent on Sunday has had to wait a lot longer though for this opportunity. Since his win at Wimbledon in 2012, not only has Federer failed to win a major, he has not made the final of a grand slam. This final presents the opportunity for Roger Federer to add to his tally of 17 grand slam titles. It is worthy to note that Rafael Nadal is close to Federer’s tally; the Spaniard is on 14.
The 32-year old Swiss is a 7-time champion at Wimbledon (2003-2007, 2009 & 2012) while Novak Djokovic was champion at this same event in 2011 where he dethroned Rafael Nadal who was the 2010 champion. Roger Federer has been to the final on eight occasions with his only loss coming in a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in 2008.
Meanwhile, it is Novak Djokovic’s third Wimbledon final; the third in four years. His record in the final at Wimbledon stands at 1-1. He contested last year’s final losing out to Andy Murray in straight sets. This final also represents the opportunity for the Serb to take one-step leap on the ATP World rankings as a win will see him leapfrog Rafael Nadal unto the No. 1 spot. Roger Federer, on the other hand, bidding for an unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title, has a 73-8 record at the All England Club. Novak Djokovic holds a match record of 44-8 at the event.
I am not superstitious but if you are, this might be an interesting fact for you. Gilles Muller, Federer’s 2nd round opponent might just be Roger Federer’s lucky charm. In every tournament that Roger Federer has faced the German, he has gone ahead to win the title. It happened in 2005 at Indian Wells, Bangkok in 2005 and the US Open in 2008. If it happened again, I might as well consider my viewpoint on superstition.
The table below represent the stats of the players thus far at this year’s event.
WHAT IS KEY FOR EACH PLAYER?
The nature of the surface necessitates the need for a player to have, not just a working serve, but an incredibly effective one to be crowned champion at the All England Club; this explains the recent struggle of Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon.
The two finalists must be aware of the need to make the most of their serves while biding their time to see what can be done on the opponent’s service game. From the table of stats above, it is evident that both players have done a good job with their serves in the tournament.
As a matter of fact, Roger Federer can be said to have delivered a serving master-class through the course of the tournament. It is yet to be seen though how Federer will cope against the player referred to by many as possessing the best returning prowess the sport has seen.
This ability of Djokovic as well as his backhand, his greatest weapon, will be key factors in the determination of Sunday’s final. Novak Djokovic will have to be cautious of Federer’s aggressive attacking tendencies seen to have been furthered strengthened by the input of Stefan Edberg.
The Serb will have to hit his shots wide and deeper towards the baseline to curtail Federer’s frequent adventure to the net. The aggressiveness hurt the Nole during their clash earlier in the year at Dubai and failure to deal with it on Sunday will do damage to Novak Djokovic’s chances.
As for Roger Federer, it is to be admitted that apart from the efficacy of his serves, he has done a great job with his return and has cut out a large chunk of the errors that characterised his play recently. As the stats show, he has been broken just once and has been engaged in a tie-break on just one occasion. He will need to keep this up as well as ensure that there is variety on his elegant one-handed backhand as opposed to going for just the slice. It is no secret that the longer a rally goes, the fewer the chances of Roger Federer winning that point. This was exploited to great effect by Stan Wawrinka in the 1st set of their quarter–final clash. It follows that Roger Federer needs to make Djokovic play according to his own terms; he needs to dictate the match and keep the points short.
It is worthy to note that the longer the match, the more likely it is for Novak Djokovic to emerge victorious. However, a positive for Federer is that he has spent less time on the courts than his opponent.
The mental state of the two players will be crucial as well. The fact that Federer is a 7-time winner at the All England club endears him to the crowd and this could work as an advantage as last year’s final shows that there is a high tendency for Novak Djokovic to get irritated when there is a hostile crowd. However, the Serb will be threading on familiar grounds as well and with the doggedness he has shown over the years mentally, he might as well be up for this mental battle.
WHAT THEY SAY
“This is where he has most success in his career, winning many titles. He’s been looking very good throughout the whole tournament, very dominant with his matches. I’m sure that he wants to win this title as much as I do. Most of the matches we played against each other went the distance, so I am going to be physically ready and fit to go the distance. But it’s a good chance for me to try to win against him on his favourite surface on his favourite court”
“I’m extremely happy to be in another final. We always play good matches against each other. We’ve played each other a lot in the past six months and it has gone back and forth a bit. Novak is a great champion; he’s used to these occasions. He’s won here before and knows how to get it done. It is really important for me to stay aggressive against him, and especially here at Wimbledon. Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. I hope it’s going to be a good match”
It’s a big final to look up to and based on the pedigree of the two finalists, it is difficult to stick out one’s neck as to who would eventually come out on top.
It’s not my call. IT’S YOURS!!!!!!!!!
PREDICT AND WIN!
Who would win the 2014 Wimbledon Men’s Single Final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and in how many sets?
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Your Phone Number of any of the above network providers should be part of the answer to enable us send the airtime to you.
Answer should be given on or before 2pm tomorrow the 6th of July, 2014.
IT’S OPEN ONLY TO NIGERIANS!!!!