Eleven years after what has regarded by many as the greatest tennis match in history, eight time champion Roger Federer got his sweet revenge on arch rival Rafael Nadal in an exciting match on Center court and now goes on to meet familiar foe Novak Djokovic for the 48th time in their career as they battle for the most coveted prize at Wimbledon on Sunday. The defending champion Novak Djokovic avenged his two losses this year at the hands of the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first semi-final on Friday.
It was the 40th career meeting between two players widely regarded as the greatest of all time as the two renewed their rivalry which includes three back to back finals from 2006 to 2008. Federer had won the first two as he equalled the great Bjorn Borg’s record of winning five consecutive titles (1976-80), while Nadal beat Federer in an epic final 9-7 in the decider in fading light in the year 2008 to claim one of his two titles, having won the second title in 2010.
The first set was always going to be crucial as in 31 of their 39 career meetings the player going on to claim the opening set would be victorious. Federer had only one break point opportunity in the first set but Nadal forced a tie-break in which he led with a mini break 3-2. Federer would then take the next five points to claim the tie-break 7-3. After missing two break point chances in the third game of the second set, Federer’s level dropped as the reigning French Open champion reeled of five games in a row to level the match.
Federer would stay calm and get the all important break of serve in the fourth game of the third set and then the third game of the fourth set as Nadal’s level dropped. In his typical fighting style, Nadal saved two match points each in both the ninth and tenth game of the decider which raised hopes of another comeback from the Spaniard. Federer was not denied on fifth match point as a Nadal backhand sailed long in a dramatic final game of the three hour and two minute contest. Federer served 14 aces to 11 from Nadal, saved six out of the eight break point chances he faced, converting on two out of the ten break points he secured on Nadal’s service.
Federer improves to 16-24 against Nadal and is now 3-1 against the Spaniard at Wimbledon. The 37 year old Swiss became the first player in the history of the game to win 100 matches at one grand slam when he beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Wednesday. He has now won six out of their last seven meetings; Nadal’s win came in the semi-final of the French Open at Roland Garros five weeks ago. Federer will contest his twelfth Wimbledon final on Sunday. He won the titles in 2003-07, 2009, 2012 and 2017, and finished runner up in 2008, 2014-15.
In the first match on Friday, the top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame a mid match slump in form but finished strong in his 6-2,4-6,6-3,6-2 win in two hours and forty eight minutes against the no. 23 seed Roberto Bautista Agut who was making his maiden appearance in a grand slam semi-final. The Spaniard had beaten Djokovic in their previous two meetings this year in Doha at the Qatar Open and at Miami Open by Itau in three hard fought sets.
Djokovic got off to the perfect start as he claimed the first set 6-2. Agut, who had dropped one set in five matches this year fought back gallantly and despite a temporary stoppage in play due to an unwell spectator held his nerve to claim the second set. Djokovic was quick to get the break in the third set and then broke serve twice in the fourth set. He had ten aces and now will play the Swiss in what would be their first meeting this year. It will be Djokovic’s sixth final at Wimbledon. The four time champion in 2011, 2014-15 and 2018 lost in the 2013 final to Andy Murray. For the record he 15-9 in grand slam finals, while Federer is 20-10. Djokovic leads Federer 25-22 in their career head to head.
Prediction :- Djokovic won two epic finals between the two in 2014 and 2015, while Federer won the 2012 semi-final between the pair enroute to his seventh title. Both players have dropped only two sets, Federer is tour leading 38-4 this year, while Djokovic is 34-6. This one like most of their contests is too close to call but with chances declining for Federer I expect the Swiss to come good one last time in the hallowed Center court and win in five (maybe four) tightly contested sets.
Meanwhile Simona Halep of Romania, whose previous win in a grand slam came at the Roland Garros last year produced dazzling tennis to outclass the seven time champion Serena Williams 6-2,6-2 on Center court on Saturday to capture her maiden Wimbledon title. Halep who had beaten Williams in only one of their ten career meetings broke serve twice in each set in the shortest Wimbledon final lasting only 56 minutes. Halep stunned the packed center court stadium as she raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set in just 11 minutes.
She then held her next two service games to clinch the first set 6-2. From 2-2 in the second set she reeled off the last four games and served out the match in style to win her second grand slam title. Serena, who was bidding to equal the record of 24 titles currently held by Margaret Smith-Court has now been beaten in her third consecutive final since coming back last year after the birth of her first child. Last year she lost to the German Angelique Kerber here at Wimbledon and then lost the U.S. Open final to Naomi Osaka of Japan.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]