Wimbledon 2012: Why the Federer-Murray Final Will Be the Best Match of the Year
There is no doubt that the 2012 Wimbledon men's final is a dream match, scripted in a way that can only please fans of both the sport and this particular tournament.
In recent years, Grand Slam finals have routinely featured the two-way dominance of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for the better part of the last year, the last four Grand Slam finals have featured both of these men in action.
You would have to go all the way back to the 2010 Australian Open Final—which happened to feature Federer and Murray—to find the last time neither Nadal nor Djokovic made it past the semis. The final, won by Federer, was also the last major tournament in which someone not named Novak or Rafa actually won.
Needless to say, even though Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have been called the Big Three of men's tennis, it really has only been a Big Two in recent years. It is for that reason that this final of the third- and fourth-ranked players in the world gives tennis fans excitement and, of course, two equally compelling stories to follow.
Let's start with Roger Federer, Wimbledon's Favorite Son.
For Federer, a 16-time major winner, it all began at the 2003 Wimbledon. This was the first Grand Slam he won and the beginning of the development of arguably the best player in tennis history.
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Since 2003, Federer has become a fixture at the Wimbledon Finals, appearing in seven in a row and winning six total, his only loss coming against Nadal in 2008.
An exceptional grass court player, Federer has been dominant on his favorite surface at his favorite tournament. With the 2012 Final, he will be making his eighth Wimbledon Final, the most of all-time.
For someone who was once ranked No. 1 in the world and once considered close to untouchable, this final has to mean something more for Federer.
If Roger wins, not only does he add to his record best 16 major titles, but he also reasserts himself into the conversation of the best tennis players in the world today.
For the past few years, Federer has faced criticism and questions regarding his age and ability to win more majors. His rivalry with Nadal has barely played out, and on a consistent basis he has found himself outside of a championship final because of losses to Djokovic in the semis.
If he wins against Murray, Federer will silence his critics and reclaim his No. 1 ranking.
Then there's Andy Murray, Wimbledon's Native Son.
Murray is no stranger to finals, as he has been in three of them, the first of which being the 2008 U.S. Open, where he faced off against Federer.
Unfortunately for Murray, success in these finals has never played out in his favor. In the three finals he appeared in, Murray, looking to become Great Britain's first major tournament winner since Fred Perry last won in 1936, has not even managed to take a set from his opponent.
For Murray, this final is about redemption and recognition. While the Big Three have reigned over the tennis world, Murray has sat just on the outside. His No. 4 ranking is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but his continued lack of success against the top names in the tennis world has people around the globe questioning his ability to win on the biggest stage.
It is for that reason, and the fact that Murray is championship-less, that tennis does not have a Big Four. Even though it is these four who often face each other in the semis, Murray has not, by many estimates, earned the right to be included with that company.
Murray has something to prove, and winning at Wimbledon will go a long way to him earning his senior status with the top three players in the world.
On top of that, Murray will have redemption for both himself and his country, which has seen a long period of championship futility.
Both players are currently at the top of their games, and both have gotten through tough opponents to make it to where they are. Both have separate reasons for why they want this title so much—reasons that make this Wimbledon a special one.
In pitting the Favorite Son against the Native Son, there is no doubt this dream final won't disappoint. It could even go down as one of the best in Wimbledon history.
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