Friday, July 10, 2015

Wimbledon Men’s and Women’s Final Preview

The Men’s and Women’s Finals are now set, after both Roger Federer and Djokovic won their semifinal matches in straight sets today. It will be the 40th time the two meet, with Federer holding a slender 20-19 record in the matchup, though they are 1-1 on grass and 6-6 in Grand Slams. In there two meetings at Wimbledon, Federer beat Djokovic in the semis in 2012 in four sets (before winning his last grand slam title by taking down Murray in the final) and Djokovic avenged that loss in five sets in the 2014 final. Federer will be going for a record 8th Wimbledon crown and 18th singles grand slam title and Djokovic will be seeking his third Wimbledon and ninth slam.

Federer made relatively quick work of Andy Murray 7-5, 7-5, 6-4, dominating his own serve (winning 84 percent of his first service points with 20 aces and not facing a single break point) and breaking Murray to win each of the three sets. Murray did put up a strong fight at times, particularly when he saved 6 match points at 4-5 in the second, but ultimately wilted under the pressure of a Federer that looks like the version of himself from 9 years ago, when he had one of the best years the tour has ever seen, winning 12 titles, making the final in 16 of the 17 tournaments he entered, winning three slams (only losing the French Open Final to Nadal) and compiling a 92-5 record overall. At 34 years of age, one could argue he actually looks as good as he ever has, moving around the court with the grace of a ballerina, placing balls at acute angles with ease, rocketing serves, forehands and backhands (he had almost 60 winners in three sets) and winning the majority of his points at the net.

Djokovic also won in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 against the suddenly resurgent Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who had lost 16 of his previous 17 matches against the Top 10 players in the world before beating Wawrinka in five tough sets in the Quarterfinals. He had a chance in the first set, but Djokovic righted the ship and never looked back from there, putting in his best serving performance of the fortnight so far. He will head into the final with Djokovic as a marginal favorite, given that he is #1 in the world and beat Federer last year in the Final, but the crowd will most likely be with the Swiss champion and history will probably be rooting for one more Grand Slam win for the guy many consider the greatest of all time. 

Looking at the Final’s matchup more closely, there is little to 
separate the two players at the moment. Federer continues to defy his age playing some of the best tennis of his career and Djokovic continues his overall dominance of the tour, though he has been less successful in recent Grand Slam finals, losing four of his last six, including the French Open last month (could we soon be calling him “Chokovic?”). He is 8 and 8 overall, while Federer is 17 and 8, with 6 of those losses coming to Nadal (who appears to have completely lost his confidence this year and looked abject losing here), one to Juan Martin del Potro and the final one to Djokovic last year. I think Federer has a good shot at pulling off the upset, but it will be imperative for him to win the first set and continue serving and returning as well as he has throughout this tournament. If he lets up at all, Djokovic could steamroll him, but I’ll be rooting for an epic five setter with Federer claiming that elusive 18th Grand Slam crown.
The women’s final is tomorrow and there Serena Williams will be the huge favorite. But before her coronation as the queen of grass yet again we should remember that her opponent, Garbine Muguruza, took her to three sets at this year’s Australian Open and beat her at the French Open last year. On the other hand, Serena leads the head to head 2-1, has won 20 Grand Slams to Muguruza’s zero and 67 career titles to her opponent’s solitary one. Williams has lost once all year (in 38 matches) and is going for her second “Serena Slam,” before trying to complete a true one at the U.S. Open, while Garbine is 27-12 with no titles in 2015. Muguruza does have the kind of game that can give Serena some trouble, able to hit hard first serves, return with pace and hit blistering groundstrokes and it should thus be an interesting final, though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see Serena hit lucky number 21.

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