Wimbledon 2014 Men’s Final : The War for God’s Good Green Earth

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As two supreme athletes and claimants of greatest of all time in their trade lock each other in battle for the 35th time in their career at SW19, its Shiji to apply General Tzu’s strategy.

I.            Laying Plans

The art of war in tennis is governed by many factors. Few of them are:

I.            Surface adaptability

II.            Accurate serve

III.            Scornful response to serve however mighty

IV.            Impenetrable forehand

V.            Aggressive backhand

VI.            Insurmountable ground strokes

VII.            Ground coverage

The two warriors have proved in the past that they are the masters in laying plans. The two master strategists who are enabling them have had their own share of battles in the past and Boris Becker has triumphed 25 out of the 35 times. On the Wimbledon grass surface the silky elegance of Stefan Edberg has triumphed 2-1 over Becker. Every plan will be, rest assured, in detail as the battle is expected to take the rivalry of both the warriors and their strategists to a whole new dimension. This is a dimension where tennis enthusiasts and fanatics admire the battle forgetting the ornery tribulations of their lives.

II.            Waging War

General Tzu says when you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. This is particularly true for one of the warriors who is 32 and is the oldest finalist in a Grand Slam since Agassi who was 35. At the All England Club he will be the oldest finalist since Ken Rosewall who was 39 in 1974. At 32, he is battle weary and if the victory is long in coming, his ardor will be damped. In this aspect General Tzu’s advice of “In war, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns” works well for the 32 year old but working against the advice could work in favor of the 27 year old.

III.            Attack By Stratagem

The general’s stratagem for the warriors: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” The laying of plans is very critical to the attack by stratagem. Since both the warriors know each other well but might be surprised by the multiple factors if not accounted in laying plans, a surreptitious attack from either could prove fatal for the other. In a Grand Slam final, both have battled only once in USO 2007 and it was a mismatch with the older warrior dismissing the younger with disdain. So, a Wimbledon final contest is a new terrain and the strategies are very critical.

IV.            Variation in tactics

“When in difficult country do not encamp. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In desperate position, you must fight.” The older warrior has already won on this surface 7 times while the younger has won it once. In the last 6 Grand Slam finals they have played, the older has won 4 while the younger warrior has won only 1. The variation of tactics is very critical. In the semifinals when Dimitrov was averaging 67% for > 3000rpm on backhand slices, it definitely troubled the tactics of the younger warrior. The older warrior is a master at such variation in tactics. This has to be dealt with attack by stratagem.

V.            The Nine Situations

The Art of War recognizes nine grounds. Out of them the relevant grounds for the SW19 battle are:

  1. Dispersive Ground: “When a warrior is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground”

The older warrior has a disposition that suits the grass surface and he is tied with Sampras for winning on this surface 7 times making this his dispersive ground.

  1. Facile Ground:” When he has penetrated in to hostile territory but to no great distance, it is facile ground.”

The younger warrior will need to be prepared to be in facile ground.

  1. Open Ground: ”Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is Open Ground.”

As the battle wears on, the dispersive ground is expected to become a facile ground and the metamorphosis would logically conclude at open ground. The warriors then would be even and the contest will be of highest quality.

Both the warriors, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are extraordinary athletes and have displayed the application of General Tzu’s techniques in the past. As we wait with bated breath for the first serve on SW19’s pristine grass, the battle pitch is reaching a crescendo. May the best warrior win!

Prediction: Roger Federer in 4 sets.

-Ranjit Eswaran [Ranjit Eswaran is the captain of the Tennis Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. You can contact him at our gmail address: sportzcosmos]






9 thoughts on “Wimbledon 2014 Men’s Final : The War for God’s Good Green Earth

  1. Wonderful write-up Ranjit….I believe it’s going to boil down to who can be more aggressive on the big points. Given the baseline is all dried up (though today forecast to be cooler should make it better), engaging in side to side rallies may not be feasible….

    Federer’s serve and that super backhand slice are his trump cards. Nole will have to serve like he did in the first set against Dimitrov and will not do the hara kiri he’s been comitting in big matches…. I’m thinking he might just make up for all his follies in the last 5 non-AO slam finals – [all of them, one can argue, he lost as much as his opponent won them]

    Calling Nole in 4….. should be a fun match between the 2 most complete players in this generation

    • @ Roger Laver – RELIEF and HAPPINESS!!! This very moment, that is all that comes to my mind and never was I more excited to feel that wonderful emotion of happiness. Had I been of the opposite gender, I wud have cried and had I been older, wud have had a heart attack.

      Nole needed this badly. So did his fans. Cannot describe to you how heart breakingly wretching it was to see him lose all those finals in the past 2 years. Everyone knows he cud have easily won a couple of them if not for his self destruction.

      A great great match by Fed and what he has achieved today is outstanding. Wud be surprised to see Rafa and Nole do this @ 32.

      Today Nole simply was more determined and his age helped him too. Had he not got this, he wud have been broken permanently. He still has his issues in the big moments, but still, this win shall help him immensely in the most crucial factor which differentiates Champions from the mortals – Belief.

      And Mr. Chandrashekar…you were saying something???

      • Congrats Red Claw….

        I knew Nole was going to bring it. Fed needed another gear after that 2nd break, but just couldn’t find it before Nole found it…

        Great match all in all and the hungrier bird got the worm 🙂

        Shekhar is a Nole fan too… he’s just showing him some tough love, coz Nole stunk up so many big matches since 2012 USO and nearly did it again today.

        Let’s hope this frees Nole up and he can play like 2011 Nole!

  2. jOker played the last game as if he won the tournament already. But once baby calmed his nerves and started to hit his superior forehand winners, jOker almost pissed his pants. If only baby had more maturity, he could have won the game, hands down. For jOker, the bad news is fed is not baby. Unless jOker is not over confident, fed all the way.

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